Dear Francis

By Abigail Carroll - Winooski, Vermont, USA - 21 November 2014



Dear Francis,


I wish to introduce you to an idol unknown in your time. Behold

the screen. Believe it or not, Francis, this idol speaks. Depending

on the channel or page, you can hear precisely what you want it

to say. All you do is tap a pad or pass your finger across its

face -- a kind of caress. Here's what other wonders it performs:

stops time -- hours can pass in a clock's single tick -- turns night

into day, and even (sort of) thinks. That is, if you need some help

with a task -- how to pick a lock, whether or not to break up -- all

you have to do is ask. And if goods are what you need -- some

watermelon seeds, your favorite soap, parts for your car -- type in

a code, give it a day or two, and poof -- they magically appear.

About this idol: it's pretty smart. If you want to learn about the

past -- find out what Cleopatra wore or how long it took to cross

the sea in 1492 -- it will teach you without charge. It's its own kind

of school. (Type in your name and let's see what it tells us about

you.) Now I know you will laugh at the thought, but with this idol's

assist, you can actually inhabit two places at once. In truth, it's kind

of cool, traveling the globe without leaving your room. Check out

the protests in Tibet, the butterflies in Belize, what can be ordered

in any random French cafe. It should be noted: this idol has a very large

eye, always monitoring the weather, not to mention the sheep

grazing a particular Scottish pasture or the state of the leaning tower

of Pisa. It even watches over your tomb, (though on that front, there

is not much activity to report. It appears that the faithful have just

finished mass). Did I mention it anesthetizes pain? In a few minutes

it can make you numb. And if what you need is just a good laugh,

fear not, it also knows that trick. Here's the clincher: you don't have

to like it to worship the thing. It steals your devotion with hardly

your knowing, holds you in its clutches like a hungry white-tailed

hawk. If you try to escape its grasp, good luck.


A reluctant idol worshipper