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2004-09-27 - 4:47 p.m.

Standing by the toilet in the office bathroom, I was somewhat surprised to hear a raised voice just behind me at the urinals. The men’s bathroom is a quiet place, reserved for reflection and defecation. It demands the decorum normally found at High Tea, and thus it is utterly improper to hear a voice at a decibel level above the common “Yo.”

The gentleman behind me was, thankfully, not cursing at his member, or groaning through a particularly painful movement, but rather trying to communicate with the business contact rambling on the other side of his Nextel. Hanging onto his gear with one hand, and clenching the phone with the other, he projected his projections with flare over the information superhighway, all while flooding our plumbing byways.

As disturbing as this might be, I cannot judge. I’ve held entire conversations on the toilet, with girlfriends, my parents, or whoever might call while the gears of my intestinal system were in motion. During four hour catch up session a quick trip to the bathroom makes sense, and no one need be the wiser so long as you flush at the last moment on your way out. If you’re up for number two, the difficulty goes up a notch, trying to time and disguise your grunts in the pockets of conversation coming from your partner. Still, with a little skill and expertise, you can fling all the bodily waste you want around the room without even a hint fluttering through to the other phone.

Somewhere, someone is trying to perfect a system of detecting and then recreating smells over a digital format: Smell-o-vision. I hope the above description deters them slightly.

But in this century it seems inevitable that our communications will become increasingly multimedia. With cell-phones rigged with cameras now capable of taking video, an all-video network isn’t all that far off. Before the decade is out, I’m sure I’ll see someone standing on the corner, pointing his phone at the sign of a bar, screaming.

“This is where were at!”

There’s already a bar in the city that plunks down a camera at each table and allows you to peak in on anyone in the place. If this wasn’t disturbing enough, a little joystick controls the angle of the camera. Problem is everyone in the place has the same joystick, so you’ll often find yourself fighting it out with some other reveler for the best angle. Clicking around the channels the battle that seemed to be going on most often was that between attractive women, trying to show off their smile and immaculately prepared make-up, and the heathenistic men trying to angle the shot down their cleavage.

I’ve already let myself go, and bought a cell phone, so know I must make way for this coming change as well. The controlled anonymity of cell phone use:

“Margaret…[making static noises]…I’m going through a tunnel…I can’t…[static noises]…hear you that well…”

Will be replaced with:

“You really wear your jeans to bed? That’s just nasty.”

Soon enough there will be enough cameras rigged to turn the entire country into one giant reality show. The horror of this is immeasurable, and yet I’m already part of the problem.

Sitting in the computer store, looking over the web cams, I thought about being able to check in with my sisters, my nephews, my friends back in the Midwest or the South, and being able to do so for free over my DSL lines, with video and sound!! The geek in me overpowered the social cynic, and I trundled home with a little cam to slap onto my Mac.

It’s never worked. I have yet to find one person in any circle of my life with a web cam. The closest I came, was getting the microphone to work. On the other end my friend could hear my voice, but without the necessary hardware, couldn’t return the favor. She typed her messages back. It felt as if I was talking to a ghost, or possibly someone in the Matrix.

This is probably for the best, as I stand proudly as the least photogenic man alive. The camera has been used primarily for taking pictures of my friend’s tattoos, and mine, as well as a series of fairly silly pictures, when we returned drunk. Should there have been video of said evening, I’m sure I would have lost some friends, and probably slapped with a lawsuit concerning indecency. I did find one shot that got taken by accident that looked okay. Not so much that it was good enough on it’s own, but during said drunken rage, I went all Photoshop on it, so I could remove any and all signs of me. I managed to translate a drunken candid, into a melodramatic black and white depiction of a brooding introspective man.

I’ve thought about putting the picture up, if only to attach a face to the ramblings. There’ve been more than a few times I’ve tried to picture the person who slapped together the words I’ve been reading.

Then I thought back to the man at the urinal, talking on the phone.

If only I could get a picture of him…that would be worth putting up.

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