Termination: Merrily Down the Stream

Merrily Down the Stream.


19 February 2016

Text:/ Graeme Hague

There’s been an extraordinary alignment of the geek planets. A coming-together of technology and invention that’s threatening to ruin our way of life, forever. We’re talking the destruction of modern society here. Nothing to do with tsunamis, earthquakes or meteors, by the way. No, nothing quite so benign as that. 

It’s all about the internet, live streaming, smart phones and tablets — and bloody cricket. Have you noticed how many people are constantly monitoring cricket on their phone? No one wants to talk to anyone, because they’re too busy listening and watching the latest 50 Over Big Bash Test Match. Sometimes it’s like nobody is interested in doing anything anymore. There’s a game on somewhere with overwhelming consequences hinging on the result. And it has to be watched live. By everyone.

There is a history. Years ago cricket tragics used Doctor Who-like impressive, miniaturised technology called ‘AM Pocket Radios’ that could be tuned into the ABC. These were a true invention of evil more powerful than any Death Star. Mind you, often it required facing west or putting one foot on a milk crate to pick up a strong signal. Owners of this devilish equipment also used an ‘earphone’ (note the singular). Many readers of this fine tome may be surprised to learn that the bud-style of headphone has been around longer than Richie Benaud’s haircut, except it was (gasp, horror) in mono. You only got one to jam in your lug’ole, betrayed by a thin, white cable that explained the vacant look on the listener’s face — they’re not paying a scrap of attention to you, the cricket’s on the radio.

These days no one bothers to hide that they’re cricket junkies. People continually swipe and tap at their phones, watching replays and checking the scores, examining graphs that pin-point the bounce of every googly, the ballistic arc of every boundary. Frequent fist-pumping and shouts of ‘Woot!’ in public can be alarming, if you’re not aware of what’s going on.

The real problem is that cricket’s just the beginning. We’re being brain-washed into watching almost everything live on our mobile devices. Not just sport, although goodness knows there’s enough of that to fry your eyeballs already. You won’t even be able to make those lame excuses for not attending the wedding of friends you don’t really like, or the christening of a baby you reckon is butt-ugly, because it’ll be streamed over Facebook (or something) and you’ll be expected to watch. Tracking software will ensure you’ve logged it. Web cameras will spy on your every move. Being a live video feed, you won’t even be able to photoshop the baby into anything reasonable-looking.


Nobody seems to care that the increase in live streaming could bankrupt our economy. If you think that, during the last century, nipping outside to the loading dock for a quick fag cost us millions in productivity, imagine how many work hours are stolen by people having a quick peek at a five-day cricket test on their phone? What do you reckon the Olympics this year is going to do? We might as well pull the plug on the stock market now.

The weird thing is that people are usually very defensive about the amount of time they spend watching their smartphones. Accuse them of being glued to the screen and they’re outraged. Tell them they’re Facebook addicts and you’ll be firmly Unliked, Unfriended and permanently Blocked. Few people are prepared to admit just how much time they spend online.

What might help is the virtual equivalent of that coloured dye they use to dissuade people from peeing in your swimming pool. Maybe if someone sneaks a look at the cricket score at, let’s say, an inappropriate moment — such as when their first child is being born — a kind of embarrassing alarm goes off. Maybe a bad smell. 

Okay, that’s not going to work. But at least I’m trying.


A solution to this 4G perversion of our society might be to provide a more exciting alternative to watching stuff on smart phones. We could create some kind of global transmission network and put screens all over the towns and cities. Hell, we could even put a big screen in every house, in a special room where the whole family can gather together and watch the same thing at the same time. There can be hundreds of channels filled with thousands of programs. And each one can have regular information thingies about the latest products and where to buy them — a valuable resource for the community.

Who’d want to stream stuff on a tiny screen when you’ve got such an awesomely impressive network like that to watch instead?

I’ve even got a name for it already. Tele… something. Telepictures?

Televisual. That’ll do. Not as trendy as ‘internet’, but I’m sure it’ll catch on. And if it doesn’t, we’ll start broadcasting cricket 24/7. It can’t fail then.


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