Wednesday, January 19, 2011
A Reality Show
A million and a half people are dropped onto the island of Manhattan and left to fend for themselves. The winner of this game is the man or woman who manages to maneuver, manipulate, and insinuate herself or himself and achieve total isolation. They from alliances, work out survival strategies, cooperate or compete, befriend or betray, cultivate or conspire, scavenge, scheme, steal, starve. It is survival of those who fit in. One by one, contestants are removed from the island. The tribe, in a mockery of democracy, votes, and whoever is the least liked at the moment, is cast out.
After a certain number of days or years a single member of this artificial tribe will remain. Only one is left behind.
Manhattan will be depopulated democratically, but the last Manhattanite will survive, not because he or she is the strongest or most excellent in any way, but because he or she was lucky or unlucky enough to adapt to the everchanging rules of the game.
I am the last member of my tribe. Everyone else went away many moons ago and now I am the only one to walk in the old ways.
I alone make the cappuccino and serve the blueberry scone. I am careful to keep the napkins stocked and the sugar packets, plastic spoons, and wooden stirrers also stocked, as they were in the old days. I alone write and publish the New York Times, and I alone sell it on the street, even though I sell it only to myself, and all the news is about me. Every day I play the tribal music playlist and I drink the coffee and eat the scone, just as I have always done and as it always was done in the old days by those of my tribe who are now gone.
One day soon I too will be gone and no one will be left to walk in the old ways.
And the cappuccino machine will be silent forever.