Actors seen exhibiting an art project in which they spent 15 hours a day in glass boxes, symbolic of the caged reality of the modern human condition. Inside the cage is actor, Clifford Joshua Young. Looking on are, Sthoko Shange, Bongi Zondi and Londeka Msomi Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Actors seen exhibiting an art project in which they spent 15 hours a day in glass boxes, symbolic of the caged reality of the modern human condition. Inside the cage is actor, Clifford Joshua Young. Looking on are, Sthoko Shange, Bongi Zondi and Londeka Msomi Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Life seemed more real before we went virtual

By David Biggs Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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At the end of each day my laptop computer flashes a message to me telling me how much time I’ve spent in front of that little screen during that day.

And every day I’m mildly shocked by the information. Could I really have spent more than four hours staring at that plastic screen?

That’s almost a quarter of my entire waking day! And the gloomy thought that crosses my mind is that, after all that lost time, I am no cleverer, happier, healthier or richer than I was when I crept out of bed early this morning to cringe before another day.

Some numbers might have changed during the day — more people were found to have Covid-19 today than yesterday.

More taxi drivers were killed in Cape Town today than yesterday, we experienced different temperature to those we felt yesterday and several politicians announced that they were “ concerned”. (Being concerned seems to be the politicians’ main function these days.)

Apart from these minor adjustments, I seem to have gained very little from my hours of screen time.

Of course, there were the advertisements too, and I could probably have chosen any of six funeral policies or taken out any of four easy loans, even if I was blacklisted (I’m not).

In this electronic age we rely on electric circuitry for almost everything we do, from chatting to our families to paying our bills and taxes and keeping track of our health.

I often wonder whether our quality of life is any better than it was before the world went electronic. We paid bills by writing cheques. We communicated by posting letters. We paid for that communication by buying stamps to stick on our letters. We kept track of our health by the way our bodies felt – not by some numbers on a tiny screen.

Somehow life seemed a little more real before we went digital and “virtual”. And, importantly, we could navigate our way along the bumpy road of life without having to remember a dozen different passwords.

Passwords are like the secret handshakes of cult societies. I preferred it when we trusted each other to be who we claimed to be. A signature used to be proof enough.

Last Laugh

A policeman was lurking in the parking lot of a popular pub, hoping to make an arrest.

Eventually, after most of the cars had left, one man staggered out, tripped over his feet, tried his keys in two other cars before finding his own, then slumped behind the wheel and started the car.

Immediately the cop pounced and gave the man a breathalizer test. The result showed no alcohol at all had been consumed.

“That’s impossible,” said the puzzled cop. “Why were you acting so sloppily?”

“Oh, I’m tonight’s designated drunk,” said the man.

* "Tavern of the Seas" is a column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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