Media X: Christmas, Unplugged
The holiday also brought forth an old acquaintance, a former agency account executive who found Jesus and grew a long and unkempt beard, asking me to join him on LinkedIn. Also, heartwarming offers of home financing and credit-card upgrades that filled my AOL Mail with holiday spam.
How could I not get into the Christmas spirit with all this enhanced electronic cheer all around me? Well, I didn't.
Christmas is weird enough in Los Angeles, where it never snows, and a cold snap is when you have to wear the woolen thong to the beach. But merry-making in a digital culture amps up the creepitude to truly painful levels.
You can't touch Christmas in a digital world. You can travel anywhere in an instant but never feel the winter wind on your face. You can text your joy to the world without ever being in the presence of another flesh-and-blood person. You can go Christmas shopping without putting a single boot on the ground of a store or mall.
No, there's nothing wonderful about Christmas in a digital world. It all looks and sounds like it should make sense, but it's just not right. It's a CGI Christmas. A simulation of the real thing. Kind of like when Interpublic announces one of its semiannual media unit reorganizations.
This is the one time of the year when you don't want choice, or control. You want to be at home, dozing by the fireplace and dreaming of Playmates in Christmas caps and fishnet stockings.
At Christmas, you don't want to aggregate, install or integrate with a series of electronic ones and twos. You want to share the season, not via Digg or StumbleUpon, but face-to-face. You want to be with the other monkeys in your favorite tree, picking lice out of their fur and watching "Elf" on the plasma TV.
I was commanded to appear at the son's skinny girlfriend's apartment on Christmas morning for a birthday breakfast. (Yes, I was born on December 25th. I'm told the birth was not immaculate.) The weather outside was far from frightful. And the scrambled eggs and bacon smelled delightful.
We gathered 'round the synthetic pink Christmas tree, and opened presents. A foot massager. A back massager. Antivirus software. And something strange that glowed and went "ping!" when you came close to it. Then we listened to a Snoop Dogg holiday CD, which was the shiznet, put too much rum into the eggnog and fell asleep in a contented heap under the tree.
And you know what? I felt just a little bit of that old analog holiday spirit after all.