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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • CHRISTOPHERSON COLUMN: Soon, maybe we won't be walking upright

  • People, you can debate Darwin's Origin of Species all you want and argue just how much animals and humans have evolved over the eons and exactly how long it's taken for life on this planet to arrive at the state it's currently in. But it's tough to argue that things like Snapchat threaten to undo all those genetic advances made over millions and billions of years in far more rapid fashion
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  •     With our living room recliner reclined as far as it could go, the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on the TV in front of me, the remote control resting on the left arm of the chair, a cat lying on the right arm of the chair, a bottle of beer sitting on a coaster on the little table nearby, my smart phone resting on my lap one recent evening vibrated and made a dinging noise.
        I picked it up, unlocked it to reveal my home screen, and scrolled down with my finger to see what had triggered the little vibrating beep. Had someone posted something relating to me on Facebook? Had someone texted me? Had I simply received a work-related email? Or was someone inviting to me to play some idiotic online game?
        None of the above, as it turns out. I had received a "Snapchat" from my wife seated on the couch nearby.
        She was already giggling. I opened Snapchat, saw what she'd sent, chuckled, and searched my mind for a Snapchat reply I could send her that would feature a lower-brow attempt at humor than what she'd sent me.
        The 16-year-old cat perched on my chair arm? As is the case with many cats, her breath isn’t the best. She's a sweet girl, but if she knew how long her feline halitosis has been a running joke in our house, she'd probably bolt out the door the next time I grabbed the mail and try her luck in the wild.
        So I took a Snapchat photo of the elderly cat and, using the Snapchat function that allows a user to forego typing on your smartphone keyboard in favor of actually scribbling with your finger on top of the photo, I wrote something particularly crude about the poor cat's breath, and sent the message.
        Seconds later, my wife groaned, but couldn't help but laugh. A minute or so later, my phone vibrated and dinged again, and it was my wife's Snapchat reply to my Snapchat. It was witty, and a little gross.
        So then it was back on me to up the dumbed-down, disgusting ante. Feeling time slipping away from me and grasping without success to come up with something hilariously awful yet stupid to send to her, I resorted to snapping a photo of the ten toes at the end of my two feet.
        A few hours earlier, you see, while enjoying a nice afternoon in the back porch, it was revealed that my wife and sons each possess 10 flexible toes than can be bent a fair amount backward and a fair amount forward with simply a couple nerve impulses sent from the brain. But my toes? It's like they have concrete coursing through them. My attempts to bend them forward were met by disbelief accompanied by accusations that I wasn't really trying. When I insisted that I could not get my toes to bend forward any further, my family's disbelief transformed into laughter and even a tiny dose of ridicule.
    Page 2 of 2 -     So, naturally, seconds after snapping the photo of my toes, I scrolled with my finger over the top of my stiff foot digits on my phone screen and scribbled, "Stiffy toes!"
        People, you can debate Darwin's Origin of Species all you want and argue just how much animals and humans have evolved over the eons and exactly how long it's taken for life on this planet to arrive at the state it's currently in. But it's tough to argue that things like Snapchat threaten to undo all those genetic advances made over millions and billions of years in far more rapid fashion. Snapchat is nothing but a de-evolution test to see how quickly we can reduce ourselves to grunting, monosyllabic-at-best primates who idle the time away plucking bugs from each other’s fur.
        Don't believe me? Barely 15 minutes after downloading Snapchat to our smart phones – our oldest son half-jokingly encouraged us to do so, probably figuring we’d never do it – my wife and I had disconnected almost entirely from reality and focused instead on how dumb we could be, via Snapchat. And all I could come up with was an old cat who needs her teeth cleaned, and my rigid toes.
        
    If you've never heard of Snapchat, ask your kid. Or, since your kid will probably tell you that Snapchat is so-oooo last week and that “Vine” is the latest thing, Google Snapchat and read about how some people think it's all innocent fun, and how others think Snapchat is just the latest threat to our youth's innocence to come down the digital information highway.
        You know how everyone is so concerned about nude photos and other inappropriate content being published on the Internet and nearly impossible to remove before it goes "viral" and spreads like wildfire? Well, the supposed beauty of Snapchat is that the photo and message you send remains on the screen for your Snapchat pal to see for only three to 10 seconds. Then, poof, it’s gone.
        Supposed beauty? Or simply an invitation to temptation? After exhausting my two Snapchat topics – our cat and my toes – already I was thinking of Snapchatting my wife an inappropriate photo of me. We were alone, after all.
        Then, a beacon of light in the infinite, remedial cyber-darkness: A text message. I was being invited to golf, an invitation I accepted. That was almost two weeks ago, and I haven’t Snapchatted since.
        But I have apologized to our old cat.

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