Victor and Rick
Subˑverˑsion / səb-ˈvər-zhən noun : the act of subverting : the state of being subverted; especially : a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or political system by persons working secretly from within. (from Merriam-Webster, thank you very much).
It’s Latin for “to turn from below.” Golly, I like that. I live in the Below. I’m one of those worker drones in the Great Below! One of the crowd, one of the numbers in my society. And I ain’t happy. I like to think that I’m in control of my own destiny, you know? But, like the song says, it ain’t necessarily so. Not with our rather insidious way of life.
Today I become a subversive. (I’d like to say “Subversive,” with a capital “S,” but somehow that doesn’t seem… um… subversive.)
Ah, the areas in which I could work, quietly undermining systems and policies that keep me thoughtless, docile, pliable. Mind you, I never want to be a Victor Laszlo (leader of the underground in the movie Casablanca. Great film. You should watch it sometime). I only want to change my little world in my own little ways.
Ditch the smartphone.
This shall be my first act. Do you know, fair reader, how much time I spend on my smartphone? Checking e-mail, googling odd ideas, watching funny dogs on youtube, listening to Brahms chamber music on iTunes, seeking stained glass patterns on Pinterest? Golly. And let’s not even think about Facebook, my personal, time-sucking nemesis.
I have become one of those people seduced by the glory of a hand-held computer. And it seems to track me and my supposed interests, too. And it gets stuff wrong. (Today, while googling “trade smartphone for flip phone” I kept getting ads for bras. I have never searched for bras on any device. What???)
I pay a high price for having this instant accessibility in my pocket. Not only money (makes my old phone land-line phone service seem like peanuts) but, villianously, it takes my attention. I think of some interesting topic to research, and I become one of those bad-posture folk walking through a parking lot, oblivious to traffic, while I wait for the little wheel to stop spinning and my coveted information to appear. I see a video posted by a former student with her darling child, and I watch ten more videos, none of which are remotely related. I become tethered to this little device, seeking for it to entertain me, inform me, serve me. But I think I’m actually serving it.
So I now have a dumbphone. (Not my term… the nice lady at the phone store named it for me. And I like it.) It takes me forever to send a text. It says there is internet possibility, but that ain’t happening, y’all. It shall remain for calls and texts only. And the camera. It has one, but really. Why do I want a camera wherever I go? I have a perfectly fine digital camera. If I think I’m going to be taking pictures, it’s time to lug that danged thing along.
Those Who Track Stuff won’t have 24/7 access to my smartphone! Gone are the advertisements that pop up whenever I google “pop tarts.” Guess the army of trackers will just have to wait until I’m at my computer.
True, it will make communicating a little more burdensome. I’ll have to adopt the get-up-early-and-do-my-email-correspondence habit. You know? Like those people who used to take a part of each day and write notes and letters to people? It can be done with Mr Computer, too. And I don’t have to stop what I’m doing and respond to an e-mail just because I have a super-powerful computer in my pocket. And how about meeting people for coffee? Or doing a phone call? Old-school for sure.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. We ALL should eat well. A balanced diet. Foods good for us. And I agree. But how, pray tell, can sitting down to a home-cooked meal using whole ingredients and organic stuff be subversive?
Might be just my conspiracy theories, but hang on.
Americans eat crap. Processed stuff. GMO stuff. Golly, that’s the way I was raised. I have fond memories of running to the corner store with my spare change to buy … wait for it … a package of Suzy Q’s and a soda. Wrapped in cellophane, little cardboard base to keep them from getting smooshed, they were chocolate cakes filled with some vaguely intriguing white sweet stuff. Shelf life was measured in decades. And what could have been better than when mom found hot dogs on clearance at the local market? Did they even DO expiration dates back then? Even today I wonder why some hot dogs are so… pink. Heavens. And the potato chips. The candy bars. The sodas. Something tells me that there’s enough stuff in my body to keep me preserved for a hundred years past my eventual demise.
And let’s not even talk about fast food. Cheaper than real food, so poor people like me can afford it, washed down with sugary, bubbly drinks. And French fries. Holy buckets.
What’s the result? Obesity. Poor health. Doctor visits. Expensive prescriptions. Surgeries to keep us alive. Health insurance that only covers the bare minimum tests required and denies the tests that could really reveal important trends (that’s my personal experience, right there).
I wonder who benefits from all this? Certainly not the consumer. Certainly not me.
I wonder if, by eating clean foods, preparing my own meals, exercising, growing food in my garden, if I can stop being part of the Big American Health Care Machine? And I wonder if, thereby, I can keep money out of drug company and healthcare organization pockets? Hmm. Now we’re getting somewhere.
I live on a quarter-acre lot. I’m replacing my lawn with raised garden beds. (Know what the number one crop raised in the United States is? Grass. For lawns. More on that later.) Current garden bed count: thirteen. My wife grows stuff there. Collards, tomatoes, broccoli, sugar peas, Swiss chard, several varieties of beans, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, squash, did I say tomatoes, basil, lavender, assorted herbs, and much more. And she cans food the old-fashioned way, in little jars, so we can eat throughout the winter. Home-grown food, without the “benefit” of chemicals. And my fruit trees (twenty-four of them at last count) are just beginning to bud. I may get apples and pears this year, and I’ll have peaches if I can convince the squirrels that peaches are bad for them and their children.
None of my money goes to fast food. No money goes to processed food. Less time is spent worrying about health and listening to kick-back-receiving doctors who want to prescribe questionable drugs.
Next step is to find locally sourced eggs, cheese, and meat. Stuff I can track and be certain I’m not ingesting chemicals and hormones that will play chicken with my health.
Seems somehow un-American, huh.
“Faulty research in the 1960’s leads to USDA dietary guidelines restricting fat while downplaying sugar.”
“Bowling Green and Sweden have sustained recent terrorist attacks.”
“Singing the blues to your hound dog invites depression and lethargy. For the dog.”
Sorry, Nemo. I never guessed.
It is so, so easy to hear something from a trusted friend, read something on a trusted website, or hear something on the news, and parrot it. Repeat it verbatim. Golly, it sounds convincing, maybe it’s right. And why would I want to go through the difficult process of verifying such information?
Funny. Seems like our schools are doing just that, right? Providing facts and figures, and expecting students to spit them back. (I think I’m qualified to say that, ‘cause I taught middle school for a while, and I believe that inspiring critical thinking in our students, though valued by teachers generally, takes a back seat to preparing facts to be regurgitated for the state tests. What kind of minds are we developing here? Information retrieval systems?)
Information is at our very fingertips. Why, I’ve looked up several things while writing this. (Did you know we use the term “Luddite” improperly? So I’m a Neo-Luddite! More on that later.)
How dare you, intelligent reader, how dare you hear something and just spit it back as truth. Verify it, please. Like my college professor used to say: “Just because one idiot writes something and another idiot prints it don’t make it true!”
Check. Double-check. Form your opinion. Then, and only then, open your mouth and speak.
I fear we, products of our education, are used to taking facts and spitting them up. Please, verify. Challenge. Question. Never, never, never be satisfied with the status quo. And don’t just choose sources that echo your thoughts! Find an alternate point of view to challenge you.
So there we are. Smartphone is gone, and it’s replaced with a technological dodo. I’m eating well, exercising, and becoming healthy. And I’ll be taking my news in several formats.
In the eternal words of Victor Laszlo, “Welcome back to the fight.”