It's earlier (and later) than you think

There are days when you drag yourself out of bed, brush what's left of your teeth and your hair, throw that first crisp slap of cold water in your face, look straight into the mirror … and see Miley Cyrus staring back at you.

Miss Cyrus — the sometimes-clothed, frosted-blonde pop tart — wagged her formidable tongue at the naysayers recently by calling herself an “underdog” as she displayed her nekkiditity and proclaimed that “Society wants to shut me down.”

Miley, grrrl, we can relate.

One minute we're starkers gyrating next to the son of Mr. Seaver from “Growing Pains,” the next we're having an Eva Peron moment — asking the fans who made us millionaires not to cry for us despite the hardships we face.

Who hasn't been there, done that?

Could Miley — who once shared her avant garde preference for the romances of Nicholas Sparks over those of William Shakespeare — twerk her nose at mean, old Society and follow in Madonna's virgin-whore pawprints by hitting the boards as Eva Peron?

Nah, even with autotune, she hasn't got the voice — and in that part, that's what truly matters.

Society's wrecking balls of change are metronoming through the cultural landscape, knocking over one domino after another. Just this week, for instance, we learned that Society had shut down the Jonas Brothers, which I'm sure is a crushing blow to those who remember the Jonas Brothers.

(They still can be related, right? This isn't like The Flying Karamazov Brothers, who weren't named Karamazov and weren't brothers, although they did indeed fly.) Society apparently also has set its sights on shutting down the coming Zombie Apocalypse, as evidenced by the relatively sparse turnout for Ashland's annual gathering of the walking dead.

Hundreds of zombies in strolls past turned into tens this year. It's possible, of course, they were all just in mourning for and in anticipation of being joined by Lou Reed. Or perhaps the undead switched up this year and instead descended as a thousand points of light over the Jacksonville Cemetery.

More likely, though, our friendly, soulless, treadmill­stomping, dull-eyed, lamenting grunters just realized that their decaying, slightly animated corpses have become outnumbered by your average, everyday, put­upon citizen. Reality trumps fiction, even in Ashland — which last week took a long, strange trip back to the summer of 1995, as barren fall trees on the Plaza sprang to summery life without even a hint of irony as June Carter Cash joined those gathering to remember Jerry Garcia for the film version of a book recounting one woman's walk on the wild side from zombie to reborn human.

We've become quite adept at raising zombies. Common Sense Media, which monitors the use of all things that go beep in the night, notes that 38 percent of children younger than the age of 2 have used some variety of mobile device.

That's right … 2.

No wonder Miley feels old.

The same survey found that 72 percent of kids ages 8 and younger spend as much as 15 minutes at a time several times a day using a smartphone, tablet computer or whatever earplug-laden doohickey they're receiving music or alien transmissions from these days.

This would be alarming if it weren't so destined in a culture where Americans now spend an average of 13 hours and 48 minutes a day on digital equipment. Even with daylight savings in effect, that's a lot of time arguing with other posters on your forum about “The Mentalist” as to the true identity of Red John.

One sure way to keep people away from their high­tech toys would be to make them smell like cat urine, which some unfortunate owners of a certain laptop were dealing with recently. While that appears to have been the fault of an ill­conceived wrist-rest, others are taking the smell-o-tech concept to new heights.

Consider the Japanese company Scentee, which has developed a product that attaches to the headphone socket of your smartphone and releases a spray that will cover you with the odor of your choice.

Odors on order include curry, cinnamon roll, coconut, bacon, strawberry, corn soup, selected barbecued meat, baked potato … whoa there, just a gosh-darned minute … did they say BACON!?

I'd get that myself, but I don't have thumbs. Actually, what I don't have is a smartphone. Never have. That has nothing to do, mind you, with the potential dangers of cell-tower transmissions or governmental subliminal persuasion techniques (the chemtrails and vaccinations have doomed me to those already).

It's just my small, Cyrusian way of exerting free will against Society — like not smoking, or shying away from raw tomatoes or not liking Facebook.

I'm apparently ahead of the trend on that last one, by the way, making it the first trend that I was ahead of the curve on since wearing Earthshoes with brush corduroy leisure suits.

I know ... TMI.

Society, meanwhile, might be sending the first shot over the bow in its war to shut down Facebook, which has discovered that fewer and fewer teens are liking hanging out in that neighborhood since they discovered that corporate zombies, adults and ... worse ... parents are now using the social media giant at a growing rate.

Teens are fleeing Facebook (for sites such as Instagram and Vine — don't ask me) in an attempt to keep a step ahead of those who would follow them. It's as though Society was kickstarting a real-life version of a Harley on the Hudson puzzled landscape, and we're all just the latest guests in a room­escape game in the Henry Stauf mansion.

At the end of our virtual reality, though, we're still Society's children — the self­aware undead preachers of equality destined to drag­step behind Miley Cyrus as she rides her wrecking ball as though she were Slim Pickens at the end of “Dr. Strangelove.”

If this feels like we're at a cultural crossroads, it likely means we've been there for some time and we're just waking up to the timestamp. This extra hour isn't going to last long enough.

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com


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