by Dale Paule
Just like that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” there is a growing segment of our current generation who feel compelled to voice opposition to whatever the standing norms of society are. They can’t seem to accept anything that isn’t first thought of and practiced by them, and they just can’t resist letting the rest of the world hear all about it.
There was a time when these “oracles” went to the town’s public park and climbed on an apple box to shout their dissatisfaction with whatever happened to upset them on any given day, and keep it up until a crowd of curious park dwellers would take a break from feeding the pigeons and gather around the oracle to either boo or cheer the message. The pigeons offered no opinion one way or the other.
But it wasn’t long until towns stopped using valuable real estate for parks, and the next group of upcoming oracles had to devise another way to voice their displeasure and demands.
So, without a park to impart their speech, they came up with an even better plan; one which only required a handy public wall and a dollar can of spray paint. (The cost of free speech was getting expensive.)
Now, instead of giving long-winded speeches in some park, railing against society’s sins, they were delivered simply by spraying the message of accusation and condemnation across the walls in bright, bold colors; it only took a couple of minutes to do the job, and the message could be seen day or night, giving the oracle more free time to search for new subjects to grieve.
Then time (as it has a habit of doing) marched on, and it wasn’t long until fresh walls were also becoming scarce. That’s when opportunity rang the oracle’s doorbell once again.
Computer technology was advancing rapidly during this coming of the new guard; it had evolved from huge, clunky desktop units to much smaller, portable units called laptops.
To the new oracles, this was space-age, cutting edge stuff, and it didn’t take long to figure out how to adapt this new technology to their cause; whether in suit and tie from an office, or in pajamas from the comfort of a bed, their message could be spread at their convenience.
Now, they could tap out their fiery speeches and philosophy on a portable keyboard, then hit a single key, and zoooom! The message would be sent instantly and invisibly to thousands of laptop followers across the country; even the world. Soon, the airways of the “internet” hummed with millions of messages, crossing borders and continents, demanding to be heard. They now included a standard warning: “Or Else!”
Ironically, like that old saying about things changing but staying the same, it looks like we’ve come full-circle.
Coffee shops called “Starbucks” have become the parks of another era, and they’re filled with a brand new breed of high-tech oracles.
Instead of standing on an apple box, lecturing crowds on the current faults and failures of society, they sit quietly by themselves, tap, tap, tapping out the word, all while sipping a three-dollar cup of coffee.
I guess the price of a cup of coffee isn’t one of those things that stayed the same.
Oh, well. Chalk it off to the high cost of “free speech!”