Twisted Logic

July 25, 2010
Coldplay is my favorite band of all time. Well, it makes the top three. I could list twenty reasons to support my claim—yes, Chris Martin’s tortured artist charm may be an influencing factor—but it basically comes down to I like their songs. I’d be lying though if I said I listen to all of the lyrics and deeply analyze what they imply. Sometimes a song has a unique rhythm, and that’s enough for me. But every now and then, a line or phrase will catch me, even if I’ve heard it a thousand times before, and the song takes a whole new shape in my mind. Suddenly, “Strawberry Swing” brings to mind more than a Pepto Bismal playground for cartoon characters; suddenly, it’s about making today the perfect day.

One of these moments occurred recently, in the shower no less. I admit, “Twisted Logic” is one of the more neglected tracks on my “Coldplay!” playlist, but when it came on mid-shampoo it caught my attention. Not only did it catch my attention, it got me thinking. Imagine that.
Chris’s deep voice crooned the lines:

Created, then drilled and invaded
If somebody made it
Someone will mess it up

And I realized that this is a theme that has emerged a lot lately in my education and even in my recent semester spent in San Francisco. At what point does progress end and destruction begin?
Coming from Orange County, CA (I refuse to call it “The OC”), to say that environmental awareness has not been a focus of my upbringing would be an understatement. There, it’s still a small miracle if a family recycles properly. Needless to say, a “compost bin” is in no one’s vocabulary, let alone their kitchens. Among other things, the lifestyle this severely suburban area sells you is NEW! and PRETTY!. That building looks like it could use a fresh coat of paint—so, just tear it down and build something bigger and better. I exaggerate, kind of. But it seems that generations before us were always looking for a way to make life easier, while we are guilty of property transience.
The chorus says it all:
You’ll go backwards, but then
You’ll go forwards again
You’ll go backwards, but then
You’ll go

Modern communication helps us stay in touch from far away, but it can make us lose touch with the close by. City lights are vibrant and luminous, yet they strip away the natural beauty of the stars. Technology allows for products to be made quicker and at a lower price for the manufacturer and the consumer, but at the cost of the factory workers who have become modern-day slaves. Neil Postman will tell you that technology “giveth and it taketh away.” We take one step forward and two steps back. It’s a cliché for a reason.

In the second stanza, Coldplay submits an interesting commentary on the future:
Hundreds of years in the future
There could be computers
Looking for life on Earth

The lyrics suggest that the way we are going, we are likely to self-destruct. Granted, they also sound like there are robots who will take over the world, or some über-smart alien race too afraid to risk contamination to visit the earth themselves, will send their computers to check for signs of inhabitation for them. I may be no robotics engineer, but I am hard-pressed to accept this vision. However, I do believe that we, as a human race, and especially Western cultures, are doing some irreparable damage for which future generations will have to face the consequences. We scrape and scar the skin of the earth in hundreds of ways everyday. Only now are we starting to notice those wounds and putting Band-Aids on them to stop the bleeding. But most of what we do is not enough.
The next few lines pose the question of responsibility:
You are not wrong to
Ask, “Who does this belong to?”
It belongs to all of us
We’ve all heard them. The shocking facts about the millions of ways we violate the environment. “If just 25% of U.S. families used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we would save over 2.5 billion bags a year.” “Americans use 50 million tons of paper annually -- consuming more than 850 million trees.” “One ton of carbon dioxide that is released in the air can be prevented by replacing every 75 watt light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.” We gawk and we gasp, we say This is absurd!—and then we leave the kitchen light on as we leave for work.
My Communication Studies classes have been telling me that I am part of an impatient generation. My peers and I were born into the electronic age, where new technology has made it possible to get what we want when we want it, and for this reason we feel entitled. This mentality has led to the slew of unnecessary “necessities” that are apparently killing the earth. Not to mention the astronomical increase in electricity usage, which is creating an energy crisis in its wake. However, as these lyrics affirm, the world does belong to all of us. If we continue to do next to nothing, what kind of world would are we leaving our grandchildren, and their grandchildren?
A key question to ask we purchase or park our cars is Am I a part of the cure/Or am I a part of the disease? But that’s another Coldplay song for another time.

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