A long time ago, when life seemed so much simpler and i didn’t have to worry about things like the price of butter and whether salted popcorn is fattening, i had a very different understanding about the workings of technology. It may have been pretty simplistic but it was a lot easier to understand than all those interesting coloured electrical component thingys that generally make up the gubbins of any electrical wizardry… how do i know what was inside those magical items? Simple – i seemed to spend an inordinate amount of my childhood taking them apart… and the reason for such wanton destruction was intimately tied up with my theories of technology – because i thought all electrical and mechanical machinery was operated by little tiny people, who lived inside the cases.
In my mind, these miniature beings lived out their liliputian-steampunk, Tron-esqe existence pulling levers, tapping dials, flicking switches and generally sorting out all the behind-the-scenes techie stuff that made things work. (Occasionally, i did wonder if they, in their turn, had mini-miniature beings, hidden away in their equipment too… but even i realised that was the direction in which madness lies and decided not to pursue that angle!). Now that i’m all grown-up, i realise of course that i was wrong – that must be the case since in all my years of dismantling things, i never once found a miniature person. Ah, the folly of youth… i now know that there’s a far simpler explanation for what makes things work, like computers, sandwich toasters and space-rockets… magic, of course!
Then – not so lot ago – it hit me… maybe i wasn’t completely wrong after all.
Here i sit in front of a big chunk of electro-technology – all flashing lights, glowing screens and buzzing, whizzing, beeping marvelousness. It plays music, shows pictures and moving images, keeps me entertained, challenges and intrigues me. It’s fun, it’s interesting and it makes me laugh – but, on the screen in front of me is no electrical magic, instead i see little people, walking and dancing and driving around, just like regular people.
It is these little people that make the magic happen – maybe it’s a little different to how i imagined it – they don’t operate mysterious dials and levers or haul away on ropes to animate the amazing things i see on my screen – even so, it is these little people that make it all happen. They play the music, they keep me enthralled and entertained and they create the interest and intrigue that draws me into their miniature – although unexpectedly expansive – colourful and captivating world.
What a world it is too! Far exceeding anything i ever imagined as a child; a place full of excitement and fun, where the little people can zip around on all manner of miniature transport, from pushbikes to spaceships, to get from place to place. Not only that, but they can travel almost instantaneously from one place to another or even fly through the skies and, when their day’s work is done, they return home to great cities floating in the air, or mushroom houses, next to streams of strawberry yoghurt.
i’m so glad that all those years ago i wasn’t wrong at all – maybe i never did find the little people hiding in the innards of transistor radios and similar such technology, but i’ve found them now, and i’m so glad i did! Isn’t it great when you discover that something you’ve always believed to be true – despite everything to the contrary, and despite the sneers of more knowledgeable spoilsports – turns out to be true?
There’s just one small thing that i never expected. In my wildest dreams i never even considered the most remarkable thing of all. You see, despite my utter conviction that the little people were real and that everything from windscreen wipers to television sets were utterly dependant upon them for that special spark of electrical life, i never, for one moment, ever thought that i would one day become one of them!
Can you teach me how to feel real?
Can you turn my power off?
And let the drum beat drop
Marina & The Diamonds – I Am Not A Robot