Once, I carried all my thoughts in my head. Now they live on a flash drive or in a cloud. I am a turtle, I contain terabytes. Do not confuse me with the armadillo, which still requires human touch.
Scientists say that our culture has become one of information on demand. This means our brains are shrinking their neural pathways. Once, we tried to first blurt out the name of that actor, you know the one, he was in that thing. Maybe he’d appear on the drive home, maybe in the shower. Now, we ask Siri. Our neurons wither on the vine.
Nobody can play Oregon Trail off a flash drive. But we used to load the floppy disk into the slot, fed it during study halls. We named children for cute boys. We set the pace: grueling. Rations: meager. The wagons rolled west. We shot buffalo. We forded the river. We died of snakebite. Whatever boy survived was the one we would marry. It was fourth grade. Mine was always Brian Wilson.
“The Oregon Trail is a computer game and first released in 1985 for the Apple II….In the game, the player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon‘s Willamette Valley via a covered wagon in 1848.” (Source: Wikipedia)
CHRISTINA OLSON is the author of Terminal Human Velocity (Stillhouse Press, 2017). Her chapbook The Last Mastodon won the Rattle 2019 Chapbook Contest. Other work appears in The Atlantic, The Normal School, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction. She is an associate professor at Georgia Southern University and tweets about coneys and mastodons as @olsonquest.