Welcome to the much delayed and admittedly slimmed down eleventh issue of The Post American. The tardiness of this issue has taught us a lot about the subject of this volume: idle hands. The lighter page count is an attempt to appeal to those of our readers who may prefer to occupy their idle hours with more titillating forms of games and vice. So here's to you.
We live in an age of endless diversions. Every fleeting moment can be filled up with the constant pointing, clicking, and sliding of flashing shapes on tiny screens in our hands, whether on a cross-town subway commute or the brief interlude between the elevator and the office door. It's been decades since the classic pastime of solitaire was transformed into the eye-numbing digital version, and the mastery of leisure has come a long way. The Internet age now offers every type of useless entertainment one can imagine; with little effort and a lot of browsing you might even discover more than your own idle mind could have ever conjured. Maybe more than you can handle. And it's all available right now, even for free, though sometimes this requires giving in to the added vice of illegal downloading.
Life in Seoul, like in much of Asia, tends to shine a spotlight on this world of games and vice. Most neighborhoods offer Internet cafes, noribangs, various other multi-rooms, game cafes, dog and cat cafes, and that’s without scratching the surface to look for the more lurid gambling dens or worse. It's also getting more common to encounter people walking around in cosplay attire, perhaps a spill-over from Japan, which hints at the all-consuming nature of the modern interest in diversions. “You are what you're into,” is the social ethos of our times. And no matter what you’re into, modern culture has exploited technology as a means to connect you to it twenty-four-seven-three-sixty-five. Social media groups have enabled a subculture explosion. From sub-reddits to meet-up sites, you can explore and express your vice of choice any time of the day, either alone, in small groups, or at major festivals in cities around the world.
This trend of course fascinates us here at The Post American, and perhaps even ensnares us from time to time. But mostly we stand on the sidelines, wondering where all of this is heading. As television sets become 3D and gaming becomes a virtual experience, one can't help but think of the title to Neil Postman's 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Will we be laughing and cheering ourselves into oblivion? Will we be merely spectators to our own demise? History has presented us with numerous examples of frivolous generations perhaps equally obsessed with light fare and entertainments. Just considering the twentieth century, the roaring twenties, with it’s flappers and ubiquitous ballyhoo, preceded the harsh depression of the thirties. Will this generation also finally succumb to the more serious economic, environmental, and social issues that it has thus far laughed off satirically along with John Stewart at The Daily Show? It’s worth noting that the modern age of diversion has overlapped an economic recession and a global war. It’s as if the experiences of the twenties, thirties, and forties of the previous century have been reoccurring for us simultaneously. Perhaps that will rob us of the perspective gained by our forebears who experienced each sequentially, and thus fully.
We turn now to The Post American # 11--Idle Hands. In this issue we offer a classic by Guy de Mauppassant wherein a bored housewife seeks excitement and vice in Paris—where else? We also explore the seedy underworld of Magic the Gathering as well as the downside of the global sports obsession. Let the games begin!