By Scott Brown 12.22.08
Another Great Depression! Hardly are those words out when vast images straight out of Walker Evans trouble my sight: Hoboes! Okies! Hoovervilles! Women who resemble Harry Dean Stanton! It's all so very... 75 years ago. Our go-to icons of abject, debilitating American poverty are so nostalgic, so sentimental, so analog. Our recurrent national nightmare deserves an upgrade. Let's face it: Flat broke and rattling a mug full of pencils, we'll still be the same wiki-addicted, diversion-craving exhibitionists we are now. Of course, I'm no futurist. Just a hysteria-prone pessimist. But I don't want to live through another Great Depression. I want to experience the Awesome Depression: classic destitution with a whole new interface. I believe the Children of the Petabyte are perfectly capable of reviving classic Depression-era pastimes—train-hopping, bread-lining—while making them uniquely our own. So climb aboard as I, your neo-hobo guide, unfold a day in the life of the future unfortunate.
It's a typical morning in 2011: I start my day by bumming a few joules off a pal's bicycle generator to power up my BlackBerry and surf over to FoodTube, where starving viewers like myself salivate over clips of the "carbo-rati" noshing on hoarded snacks. (I try not to read the comments: "omg she is such a ho for eating that Combo!" "shup azz! u go girl! eat dat Combo!") One stray click and I'm rickrolled, prankishly diverted to the now-familiar footage of Rick Astley being devoured by a pack of London cannibals.