#3. Asshole-Canceling Headphones
Headphones are how you tell the rest of the world that you're done listening to its bullshit. They've helped more people through commutes than Ford. Plugging in and closing our eyes is the closest we've come to jacking into the Matrix. But given what we know about most famous musicians, you'd think they were injecting assholes into our skulls, not screening them out.
"Yes, I want all these guys thrumming inside me."
But even without music, they can help all humanity, and will win the Nobel Prize for Women Who Don't Want to Put Up With This Shit the second that becomes a thing. Their emergency mode doesn't require any power, or even a musical device. Simply placing buds in your ears gives you an easy way to ignore all but the greatest of assholes, and to identify those greatest of assholes when they continue trying to take your attention, even though you're clearly listening to something that will improve your life more than them, be it music or an educational podcast.
"... and when they say 'Give me a smile!' strike the base of their chin with the rising flat of your hand,
crashing their stupid teeth together ..."
Unplugged headphones are how you MacGyver an anti-human force field with 40 cents of plastic and wire, and they work for anyone of any gender. And if you're thinking "But what if I want to talk to someone wearing headphones?" just remember that their eyes are still working. They know you're there. And if they decide to keep wearing the headphones, that is the answer to anything you could have said.
The kinkiest thing on your phone isn't that guy wearing only a rope on Tinder, but the spellchecker, coyly insisting that it's never heard of these dirty words you've been teaching her. "Ah do declare," giggles the BelleChecker, "Ah've never heard of such a thing. Would you like to enter 'anal'?" And then you finger anal. And that's on purpose. Someone was hired to go through the entire English language and remove every dirty word in it, just so you could teach them to that giggling little Electrolita you put in your pants pocket.
And now you know why it heats up so much.
I learned this the last time I got a phone. Smartphone makers think we either verb ducks for fun or want to teach our phones to swear. But verbing ducks is by far the filthier option.
"You're not my type, at the taxonomic class level."
This affected innocence is an attempt to avoid blame for poisoning the minds of children, despite the fact that, since dictionaries first existed, the first thing any child has done is look up the dirtiest words they can think of. And of course the dictionary will tell them, because it's a resource, not a censor. No child is going to decide against swearing when their smartphone puts a wiggly red line under the word "fuck."
You can't hand a child Internet access and then insist they don't see swear words. It's like handing a child a box of infinite genitals and hoping they won't look at any. Note: That is also what you're doing when you give them Internet access.
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He's already bored with things I didn't even suspect at his age.
(Thanks to J. Vanessa Gritton for giving Belle her accent.)
#1. Game Self-Improvement
Every video game now comes with a pause for reflection, which works a lot better when Dragonborn does it than when my parish priest used to. Every time you start a modern game, it now demands the chance to check for updates, leaving you sitting waiting while your own entertainment device decides if it has anything better to do than play with you.
"Man, I hate Existential Crisis Simulator 4."
That's a pretty heavy existential implication for a video game. We grew up staring into the screen, but now that there's a global information network, even the video games take a moment to see if they couldn't maybe improve themselves instead of playing with you. That's the sort of thing that would make you question what you're doing with your life.
But like all important questions about yourself, the only good answer is "HELLS YES!" Like all meditation, this enforced introspection isn't directly about improving yourself, only focusing on and truly living in the present moment, so that when the computer finishes phoning home and asks, "Are you sure you just want to screw around instead of getting anything done?" you're fully prepared to answer, "You're damn right! Woohoo!"
Improvise more elements of modern life with 5 Secret Criminal Uses for Stuff They Sell in Gas Stations and 9 Regular Objects Turned into Insane Prison Weapons.