The Rise and Fall of Skater Punks

one more thought for tonight. another of Mike Langberg’s predictions was that soon anyone who wanted to get in touch with us would be able to at any time and in any place, thanks to GPS tracking and global wireless communications. without being too Orwellian about it, this may not be all we’re hoping it to be.

tonight i was doing some illegal skateboarding in parking garages on Stanford’s campus. myself and a friend cruised all over the streets and parking structures, doing things that were quite dangerous and very illegal. we were called out on it a couple times, but with no major repercussions, since the authorities had no idea who we were, but did know we could get away at any instant if we desired.

now, if my friend and i were “wired” into a system that could track us and communicate with us at all times, we almost certainly would have a few violations to pay and court dates to appear at right now. it’s the erosion of illegality, which sounds like a pretty good thing–until you’re the one who’s caught.

the problem with enforcing laws is that you have to make the right laws in the first place. obviously, with the governments we’ve had recently, that is more of a challenge than perhaps it should be. then, you have to hire people who can clearly distinguish right from wrong, serious from harmless, and who are entirely unaffected by pride, guilt, or egotism. another problem to be sure. until that point, you’d better be very careful indeed about what you are enforcing.

already i lament the loss of the days when you could just take off on a road trip, sleep in your car, swipe a little food or materials when you were hard up, without fear that everyone knew who you were and had nothing better to do than punish you for it. reading “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, i wish that i had been around just 60 years earlier to experience those times.

alas, here we are–and a good time it is. but with more privilege comes more responsibility. we’ll have to be very careful and very smart about the things we do to ourselves in the next few years. let’s not give our machines control over us, but rather keep them as our assistants.