March 7, 2019
I think it’s sad, you know.
And then there was one. A Blockbuster video rental store located in a suburb of Perth Australia announced that it will be closing its doors for good at the end of the month, according to local newspaper the Eastern Reporter. It was the last remaining Blockbuster on the continent. Once it ceases offering rentals at the end of March, there will only be one Blockbuster in the world remaining. The final store is located in Bend, Oregon.
Australia’s last Blockbuster, located in the small suburb of Morley, was operated by Lyn and John Borszeky. The owners put up signs indicating the store would shut down last Friday, which resulted in an outpouring of nostalgia-driven support. While they held out for as long as they could, the arrival of Netflix and other streaming services in the Australian market made this ending an inevitable one. Everything from movies to signs will be sold off from the store, with the going out of business sale set to start on March 8.
When I was a kid, going to Blockbuster video (or an equivalent video rental place) was a fun experience. You went outside of your house with your family to a place that was kind of fun and picked out a movie to watch at home. You would maybe get in a disagreement about which film to get, maybe take a vote. It was an entire little event. Maybe it was cold, and you had already decided which movie you wanted, and you’d go with one of your parents to the video rental while the other stayed home to wait for the pizza.
As a teenager at the turn of the millenium, the internet existed but it was still too slow to download high-quality video, and I spent time at a local 24 hour independent video (now DVD) rental place and would often have long conversations with members of the staff and other customers about movies and other stuff. One time I even met a girl there, and going back to her house on the pretext of watching the last copy of a movie she’d picked that out I agreed was probably great and also wanted to watch (even though I did not think that), we engaged in the act of sexual congress.
The fact that these experiences are now gone from life is a small thing, but it is representative of a larger thing – that technology specifically designed to bring convenience removes entire categories of human experience. The smart phone is removing even basic human conversation, as you can hardly find someone to sit and talk with who won’t be constantly checking their phone.
Personally, I won’t hang out with men who constantly check their phones when I’m talking to them (there are no women that don’t do it). But I know that for most people, this is actually destroying their relationships. And their ability to form meaningful relationships.
In a normal society, we would be having a discussion about the increasingly dehumanizing role that technology is playing in our lives.
Sadly, we do not live in a normal society.