I love a good science fiction story. It’s not just the sheer imagination behind it, but how it’s used to comment on something about people. My favourite was always artificial intelligence and judging what makes a human being human. How we define and identify ourselves. So it’s with a little irony that I must admit that I am not the fastest when it comes to embracing he latest gadget or hardware, and that this small fact has become so much apart of my image. When people first had iPods, I was still carrying my walkman (I was the one hipster who still used it out of necessity rather than choice). I was still using a pay-as-you-go flip phone when everyone had moved onto the third generation of smartphones. I had only just gotten over dial-up internet when everyone else considered 3G a casual necessity in life. I loved science fiction but I knew painfully little about real current technology.
The delay in my technological expertise is partly due to the fact that I couldn’t afford the latest toy as it got released and partly because I hate throwing something away if it’s not broken. I like old things too; they have charm and character (and yes I am in my 20s thanks. I’m not going to start telling you about things ‘in my day’). My ignorance on current machinery became clear after one discussion about pc video gaming one evening.
“I have my ps2 but I kind of miss my total war games on my laptop” I lamented to everyone.
“You had to wipe them off your hard drive before you came to Japan?” Tee asked, focussed on his own laptop opposite me.
“What? No, I don’t think so. I mean I couldn’t bring the disks with me. Not enough room in my luggage”. Tee and Kara exchanged confused looks.
“But if you played it before, you already downloaded it onto your laptop right?”
“Er, I don’t know. Does that make a difference?”
Tee came over to my side of the table and searched for the game I mentioned. A double click later the game booted up and I stared open mouthed at my screen.
“How!? How did you do that?”
“Poncho, it’s on your hard drive”
“But there’s no disk!”
I opened the tray just to be sure and it was indeed empty. By far it was the best magic trick I’d seen all year. A combination of only-mac use at home and a childhood of console gaming had rendered me ignorant of this magical hard drive.
“It’s playing but there’s no disk inside! It’s as though the computer is reading the disk but it’s a phantom. I’m playing on some kind of ghost disk. What is this called, this ghost technology?”
Kara and Tee stared intently at me for signs of sarcasm which I regret to inform you all, were entirely absent. I was mesmerised. Let me take this moment to express just how amazing modern technology is; where the physical world is becoming less and less necessary in machines and hardware. When it became clear that my amazement was genuine (I couldn’t begin to imagine why it would take so long to convince them of my sincerity), my friends introduced me to a range of new devices that I was barely familiar with. Elodie showed me how the screen of her iPhone flipped automatically whenever she turned her phone (I tested it for over thirty minutes and it never failed. Not once!). Kara introduced me to Twitter, so that I could keep up with the news, celebrities and the horde of irrelevant information circulating on social media. Svetlana impressed upon me the importance of illegal downloads and hung her head when I explained I still bought cd’s. Tee went on to explain streaming tv shows and films, along with all the hazards it brings.
I still avoided streaming shows though, in spite of their assurances. It was tempting of course; can you imagine being able to watch tv without a tv!? To watch a film without the DVD? It was glorious! But it was all illegal and that ruined the splendour of it all. Ghost technology was wonderful but what if it could be used against me? That through it, the police would suddenly find a flashing red light in one of their control rooms that indicated someone was at that very moment streaming illegally. They might be able to track me down by my address and then what would I do when they knocked at my door? I didn’t want to be arrested just because I couldn’t wait for the next game of thrones season to come out on DVD! Elodie demanded to know one day where my reluctance was coming from after I explained that I was afraid of being arrested. In her frustration she mocked me for my caution.
“You won’t be arrested, for God’s sake. That’s the wonderful thing about ghost technology Poncho. You can’t find ghosts”
Well, that might well be true if you ignore all the horror films (can a thousand horror films all be wrong!?). But the thing about ghosts, even the technological ones, is that they do tend to haunt you.