critique in the age of whatever

I went to a groovy coffee shop the other day. Prayer flags. A wall dedicated to poor children, smiling toothily (or not) in photos, serving as an advertising prop to sell accessories in which the gimmick is assuring the consumer that the merchandizer will shift some of the ready, or an inkind equivalent, to the kids. Smiley clean moral people behind the counter. So there I am, and suddenly I feel an advent of that futile senile anger that I am sure I will spend years expressing. I become, in a word, more Walter Sobjackish – so after ordering a latte and a drip, I point to a camera high on the wall behind the cashier, under which there is a smiley face and the words, smile, you’re on camera, and I ask her whether she felt the slogan was a way of making us feel actually happy about losing our basic freedom not to be surveilled or watched. These words came out of my mouth, I am sure, in good order, nary a messup in syntax, but the woman’s face (she was probably nineteen) showed utter incomprehension. Then her companion, of about the same age, decided it was just that I didn’t understand the sign, and told me that it was like we could all pretend to be movie stars. I however thought that this didn’t quite grapple with my off the cuff critique, and so pointed out that it is by such delusions that we lose our basic freedoms. And then, not wanting to be a total jerk (the spirit of senile anger leaving my shoulder, I guess), I conceded that there was nothing we could do about it, so what the hay. I got my latte and the drip, and the woman then resolutely turned to the next customer, hoping that he, at least, was not a jerk.