Electrically Powered Suicide This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 27, 2010
The toaster burns every third piece of toast made in it, the coffeepot’s delay brew setting is erratic at best, and the hairdryer enjoys spitting pieces of molten metal at me from time to time. The washing machine vomits water all over the laundry room, the dryer starts to smoke, and the fire alarms chirp randomly in the middle of the night, even with fresh batteries. Toyota cars throw themselves off the road. Faulty electric wires burn down buildings. And computer systems crash with frightening regularity.

Why is technology always trying to commit suicide? Everything from my flashlight to my computer is in a constant search for that one little thing to end it all; a piece of lint in a vital part, a virus, or that one exposed wire touching another that causes the entire to thing to combust. What is so terrible about being an inanimate, electrically-power object that makes them feel the constant need to stop existing, to start the journey to the heavenly landfill in the sky?

This is a very scary fact of life, considering we are basically nothing more than a slightly complex pink-and-gray, squishy toaster oven. What slightly miswired piece of circuitry will cause us-- a series of electrical pulses and organic breaker boxes-- to look for the metaphoric piece of lint that will mean our doom? Whether our body’s “suicide” is actually in the form of a gun to the head or in the form of cancer cells invading out blood, our bones, our internal organs, the result is the same. Death.

Could it, in fact, be the electrical and magnetic fields that our appliances are radiating that causes the chemical imbalance that will trigger our suicide? Could it be the magnetic field that causes my headphones to stick to my refrigerator, my cell phone to make my speakers crackle and yelp, or even the waves in the air from my television, my radio? Could the same thing be driving humans and electrically-power appliances to end their lives?

I think it’s time to seriously re-examine our collective lifestyle. Forget chlorine in our water and toxic chemical spills, forget factories belching chemicals into the air, forget doctor-prescribed chemicals changing the way our brains work or foods so full of chemicals they can survive forty years on a shelf. Our main concern should be the long term effects of our favorite totems of modern society: TV, MP3’s, cell phones, computers, even harmless seeming appliances like microwaves.

So what'll it be today, sir? The usual; a cell phone with a side of death?

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