Back in the good old days of youth and as a reward for good behavior, my parents would typically get me the latest Nerf ball to throw around the house. My favorite being a futuristic football with a glow in the dark effect. You had to be there to see it hurl across the living room! Masterful. It wasn’t until their valuables were broken that they needed to divert my attention elsewhere and quickly, but they didn’t know where? I didn’t either, heh.
Gradually I would explore new interests, such as video games! My mom slid me a Street Fighter cartridge courtesy of Super Nintendo, after I handed her an A+ on my hideously rendered art project. Besides the cool looking green thing (later known as Blanka), battling a guy in a karate costume on the front cover (Ryu), I didn’t understand why she was handing me this weird plastic square. That was until I saw the console, an even larger plastic square, nestled under my television. I tucked in the cartridge, it lit up up on the Tv and suddenly I wasn’t just Frank anymore. I was Bruce Lee. This was a life changing event, one that would pervert my consciousness from the Nerf world….forever.
900 playing hours had quickly passed, and I was hooked into this virtual reality of comic violence and Tiger Uppercuts (courtesy of Sagat). I really didn’t spend time doing much else, so It was only natural to explore other gaming titles. I would play and play and this kept my parents at peace. I wasn’t a bad kid by any means, but I was husky. Picture this short, overweight blimp knocking things over and raiding the refrigerator every 4.2 minutes. It was annoying I’m sure and although they wouldn’t ever tell me such a thing, Nintendo kept the food expenditures down.
Eventually and unfortunately, my insatiable appetite for the Nintendo had died, lasting a solid 4 year lifespan. I guess you could call it a maturing process of sorts… or a graduation from the basics. At this point, a Sony Playstation was duly needed. It was a cooler, high tech rectangular plastic that enhanced the gaming experience even further (although looking back, graphics were quite horrible on it). Among my other fat geek friends, it generated some serious street cred. Exit Bruce Lee. Enter Fat Joe.
Again, the maturing process was in effect but here’s a little more background info. My father was a high-end video producer in his day, retiring a few short years ago. Fred Marcus Studios, a private digital firm, was located in Manhattan. It was there he would unharness his visual talents. At home however, he would quietly chill behind a door that read, ” the magic happens here”. Now, I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, I’m paranormal in some way but we’ll talk about that another time. Hopefully never unless you’re offering me a publishing deal. But what lied behind that door was his own professional studio suite, filled with all sorts of Tv monitors and computer technology I didn’t understand.
On these computer monitors he would edit using Adobe and put together every clients dream – a personalized video of their engagement filled with cinematic effects. There was another monitor off to the side that caught my attention the most, later known as a GATEWAY 2000. “Dad, do you care if I play with this?”. “YEA YEA..NO, whatever, I need to finish this, go!”, said Dad. That day, Dad made a mistake. As Neil Postman would likely label me, I was en route to becoming an information junkie.
The best part about this machine, It had AOL!!! Using a dial-up modem, it connected me to the mysterious information superhighway (only 12 hours later). Although I didn’t look up anything more than video game cheat codes and porn links, I would attempt to enhance my typing skills and keep a private journal using a word processor. A long story short, the journal ultimately became public and I was grounded for a lengthy period of time. Fast forward some more years and the esoteric mystery machine had evolved into a more affordable, mass-marketed piece of tech and was stationed in the homes of everyone I knew. My fat geek friends had much to socialize about!
Throughout middle school, high school and yes…college, I would use this machine to virtually fulfill everything. And like evolution, It changed like I changed. Once a relatively chunky and heavy piece of meat now a slimmer and neatly dressed slab. From homework to pirating music, from Pornhub to Facebook, shopping to selling on eBay- it simplifies the legal and illegal. However, It only took about twenty-five years for me to realize how dependent I’ve become on it and how much I genuinely…. hate it. Ironically, its true. With all the capabilities and advancements that has stemmed from the development of the personal computer, we’ve collectively become overwhelmed with distractions from reality. Our once familiar sense of social interaction has changed since viral socialization became a standard. The outdoors are seldom explored or appreciated when twitter is urging you to stare at it (enter iPhone). This goes for not all but many of us. We tend to immerse ourselves fully in the digital world rather than what’s physically around us. Now, combine multiple examples of that fact with the ever-growing invasion of privacy from corporations, governments and spying eyes alike (which I can’t stand either by the way!), and the awesome internet that held a special place in the heart of the husky young boy, has clogged its artery walls. Damn it….I knew it would all catch up eventually.