July 12, 2013

Is the east coast more autistic?

I'm visiting home for a little while, and trying to keep my eyes peeled for regional differences, now that I've spent enough time out in the mountain west to get a feel for them. "Home" is suburban Maryland, near DC.

Rather than list a whole bunch of subtler differences, how about a real vivid one that I just saw? A youngish girl riding around our neighborhood on a bike with a halter-top and leggings. At first I thought, "Now there's a blast from the past..."

That is, until our paths came closer and I saw all those damned devices -- sunglasses on a cloudy and somewhat rainy day, gigantic headphones, and her head snapped down to look at some screen that she was holding / diddling with one hand while she attempted to steer the bike with the other.

Now I've seen texting while walking and driving plenty of times before, but I've never seen someone whose brain is so plugged-in that they can't even enjoy a nice bike ride around the neighborhood. There are way more bike riders out west, too, and hardly any here. Yet, like the only one I run into is too busy offloading her brain onto a device to have any fun.

And she was not riding her bike to go to work, run errands, etc. So no chance that she felt compelled to connect to her device in order to multitask under pressing time constraints. And anyway, all that stuff about girls being "busy" is bullshit. Busy "accomplishing nothing," to use another phrase du jour. She appeared to be riding her bike around the streets purely for leisure, yet unaware that she'd ruined any hope of enjoyment by putting herself on a digital treadmill.

The east coast is definitely more anti-social, disrespectful, and generally retarded. But is it also more autistic, more device-dependent in their choice of how to keep others out? I bet you'd see more girls texting while dancing in clubs here than out west, or even texting while coupling.

Time to join the party out beyond the plains, if you haven't already. It's not an oasis or anything, but it beats the hell out of the rotten eastern half of the country.

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