I’ll grab a cold drink out the fridge. I’ll open a bottle of soda or beer and just as the cap makes that pop sound I think to myself, how totally ridiculous is it that I can have cold carbonated beverages on demand? I don’t think like this all the time, just once in a while. Usually I’m thinking about or how crazy it is that we all have the Internet, how we have all of this information and media at our disposal, how we don’t have to buy CDs anymore, how we don’t have to buy stamps. How we’re the first generation being this close to instant material gratification. I’ll be really thirsty and I’m just enjoying a nice ice cold Coke Classic, and I’ll stop and think about all of this, and it’s equally absurd to think about even all of the small stuff, like a bottle of Coke, that I have at my fingertips.
What did people drink a hundred years ago? Water? That’s it? Juice maybe? What goes into carbonating stuff? How did it become so commercially successful to add bubbles to everything? I know that if you make beer from scratch the bubbles are produced naturally. But soda? How did the first sodas get bubbly? And beer now isn’t even made from scratch, it’s made in these big vats and then they boil it to kill all the active yeast and then they add all of the CO2 artificially.
That’s really not important though. It’s just when you consider progress, and I’m considering it right now, I wind up thinking that we’re so special, that we’re this pioneer generation, the first ones to benefit from all of the stuff available now, the first this, the first that. But soda is a pretty recent invention. So is refrigeration. When Coke came out didn’t it cost like a nickel a bottle? I have no idea. My grandfather always used to talk about stuff that cost a nickel when he was a kid, so I just have all of these sepia colored imagined memories of the past where everything’s five cents, and people are still complaining about it being too expensive.
But imagine you’re living back in the day when Coke first came out, and it’s super cheap. Everyone must have felt like a king. Or a queen, you know, if you were a lady. But it must have felt great to walk into a drugstore and buy a bottle of Coke. And you could stand outside and find some empty milk crate or some box and you could put one leg up on that milk crate and you could rest your arm, the same arm that’s holding the bottle of Coke, you could rest it on your raised knee and take a big sip of ice cold Coke and think to yourself, Jesus, this has to be the pinnacle of human development. And that first year that Coke was available, like really available, to every single person, it must have been such a great year, everyone really appreciating every sip of ice cold carbonated soft drink.
But then Sprite probably came out and maybe it was still kind of exciting, but it definitely couldn’t have been as exciting. And then even though soda was available, there were plenty of other things that weren’t available, like penicillin, or modern dental care, and the buses were still segregated, and maybe you’d get drafted into a war and maybe you’d run out of nickels and you wouldn’t even be able to buy a Coke, you’d just be back to plain old water.
And when I think all of this is so great, all of our modern technology, am I truly loving it? Am I really appreciating everything that we have that generations past have not had? Or is it not about the actual innovations, but just about that feeling, that feeling of having what once did not exist. Like when I first got an iPhone, man, that was something special. After a couple of years, it’s still somewhat special, but at the same time, it’s just my cell phone. I don’t have that better, superior feeling. And I get so wrapped up in my life, my world, I forget about all the stuff that’s comparable today to no penicillin and inequality and I don’t want to list the specifics of all of the negative aspects of the modern age, because I wouldn’t really be making any new or significant insights, and it would all be such a bummer, such a negative letdown.
I just can’t imagine what it’s going to be like towards the end of my life, how different the world is going to look. And how am I going to feel about the Internet in the future? Will it still seem so cool in comparison with whatever technological marvels the future will surely bring? Or maybe society will collapse and I’ll be telling my grandkids about the Internet, how it was the best thing our species had ever created, but civilization collapsed and now there is no Internet, and nobody knows how to get it back because we’re all too busy raiding these boarded up grocery stores, trying to sneak in and carry out cases of Coke and Sprite and Fanta without getting caught, because the Coke factory closed down when society closed down, and nobody knows how to carbonate the Coke, and you save all of your soda for wintertime, when you bury it under the snow, because there aren’t anymore refrigerators, well, there still are, but no electricity to run them. Some people have generators, but nobody’s refining oil into gas, and maybe there is no more gas, and so the snow trick is the only way for the average person to enjoy an ice cold Coke, and I think that, if I had to live in the burnt out remains of what was once a great civilization, no Internet, no TV, I think that an ice cold Coke would do just the trick, it would be just what I need, to close my eyes for a second, rest one of my legs up on some chair or stool, and just let it all wash down, the bubbles, the cold, the taste more than anything else of who we are and what we once had.