MySpace…far from the final frontier. On the contrary, these are the voyages of the Facebook generation. Their continuing admissions: to text strange new words; to Tweet nude pics and discover new methods of self-glorification. To take social media where Star Trek: The Next Generation has already gone before!
Unless you were a fan as a kid or have been catching up via Netflix Watch Instantly, you might not be aware that Star Trek: The Next Generation pretty much predicted a vast majority of our current techno-luxuries, long before they entered and affected our lives. Whether immediately answering the universe’s most perplexing questions or contacting associates on a whim, the crew of this USS Enterprise somehow laid out modern life of the early 21st century, and pretty closely at that. If only we hadn’t been focusing so hard on wondering why and how a robot like Lt. Commander Data’s could grow crow’s feet, we might have noticed the following foresights:
Asking the Computer a Question = Doing a Google Search
Throughout the series, Commander Riker, Lt. Worf and crew relied on the computer for lightning-fast answers to complex questions. “Computer: how far is Vulcan from Romulus?” “Computer: who invented warp drive?” “Computer: what is our exact location?” While, these dorky ass questions are ones we’d never ask aloud (outside of humdrum workplace conversation), they’re not altogether different from how we rely on a single search engine to solve our problems. “Google: how long does a soft-boiled egg take?” “Google: what are the symptoms of herpes?” “Google: what’s a commonly asked question of the computer in Star Trek: The Next Generation?”
Therapy with Deanna Troi = A Craigslist Intimate Encounter
Rest assured, at the start of any Deanna Troi-centric episode, you know it’s bound to result in one of two ways: either her whore of a loudmouth mom would show up and make the ultra-effeminate Captain Picard feel insecure about his own sexuality. Or, Troi was going be possessed by some sort of space spirit and thus and would turn into a huge slut, ready to bang each and every crewman who came to her quarters. Really, her role on the ship is akin to that of a Craigslist Intimate Encounter, in that she was really just out to get laid. I mean, if she wasn’t actually trying to snare any nerd willing to look her way, why would she traipse about in her pajamas 24/7?
Deactivating the Holodeck = Deleting Cookies & Erasing Browser History
Starfleet must employ an entire staff with the express purpose of sanitizing the holodeck. After all, the holodeck of the 24th century is basically your bookmarked queue of porn in the 21st. Sure, it might not be the genuine article and paints an unrealistic view of what sex really is. But if it looks and feels real, there isn’t a man alive, fictional or non, who would ever complain. Unfortunately, herein lies the problem: multiple episodes revolve around the holodeck’s safety mechanisms malfunctioning, clearly resulting in dangerously lonely gents like Geordi La Forge constantly being treated in Sickbay for Space AIDS, galactic clap and other dangerous alien-to-alien STDs.
Scanning with a Tricorder = Using Apps on a Mobile Device
Every time I use an app on my iPhone for something crafty, I feel like Dr. Crusher, sans the boobs, ginger hair and intense fear of intimacy, of course. From identifying strange life forms auto-tuning their way through what they call a “song” to using WebMD to self-diagnose what is likely a much larger problem, holding a modern mobile device is like grasping a future that Tasha Yar was never lucky enough to live (note: if such a reference loses you, get with the program, login to Netflix, put ST: TNG in your queue and watch “Skin of Evil”). So long as Starfleet was smart enough not to sign a long-term, exclusivity contract with AT&T however, their tricorders are still slightly more advanced.
Debating the Prime Directive = Arguing on Message Boards
The Prime Directive in Star Trek is kind of like the First Amendment: everyone argues in its favor until the argument becomes emotional and subjective, at which point bickering begins, feelings are hurt and everyone ends up dumber than when the argument began. This rigmarole is no different than getting into a flame war with some “genius” who also thought that signing up for a message board seemed like an effective use of time. Sure, you might start off debating with logic in a Data-like factual fashion, but sooner than later, you’ll be a frumpled Dr. Polaski look-alike, so withered and worn from the stupidity of it all that you disappear from the board after a single season…er, post.
Receiving a Visit from Q = Putting Up with Porn Bots
Nobody ever expects Q to show up on a set schedule; he just pops in the second he chooses who to mess with at that point in time. Regardless of how engaging Q might initially come across as, it quickly becomes apparent that he’s got a motive and his sweet-talk is nothing but a trick. And, on cue (no pun intended), he makes his offer, traditionally to a bridge-wide rolling of the eyes. This should sound familiar to those who have dealt with porn bots via Skype; it’s not so much excruciating as much as it’s just annoying. The only difference is that you can have fun screwing with porn bots (again, no pun intended), while Q might banish you to the other side of the universe.
Engaging with the Ferengi = Falling for Email Scams
Who still falls for the “dear sir: I come to you under grave circumstances” email? I’ll tell you who: the same dimwits who willingly do business with the Ferengi, i.e. Star Trek’s interpretation of Nigerian princes, UK Lotto sweepstakes and other phishing frauds of the modern world. Ferengis, much like phishers, use poorly-crafted ploys to exploit greedy “victims” via some kind of get-rich-quick scheme. They’re nothing but swindlers, an idea recognized by all but the most naive creatures in the Star Trek universe. If only the same could be said for the people of planet Earth, who instead seem adamant about supplying content for Dateline to build multiple segments around.
Fighting with the Borg = Combatting Pop-Up Ads
No matter how often you disable pop-ups on your PC or Macbook, programmers have already adapted to your defenses. Much like the Borg, they will assimilate you to their cause, whether that be purchasing computer security software or alerting you to the brand new iPad or iPod Touch you may have won. Try and fight all you want, but these pop-ups have engrained themselves into the very fabric of life online, as old as the Internet and evolving daily. Your Wesley Crusher-like innocence might lead you to believe that by merely clicking the window closed, you’ll rid yourself of the issue. But one pop-up leads to another, which leads to another. “Resistance is futile.”
Living as an Assimilated Borg = Taking Memes to the Extreme
Once you’ve stopped trying to beat the pop-up barrage, you can finally become one with the masses. Not even Jean-Luc Picard could fight off assimilation—what makes you think you’re capable? You probably don’t even realize how much you’ve already assimilated, but the proof is in the social media pudding: do the misquoted words of Martin Luther King Jr. you re-posted on Twitter the day Osama Bin Laden was killed sound familiar? How about that Warren Buffet “tax the rich” story you and all your friends all shared across Facebook? Every thought, idea and statement you stand for is but that of the masses, so deal with it and share this article too, won’t you? “We are the Borg.”
Elijah Bates is a contributing writer for CBS Local
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