Perilous Promenade

4. Jan. 2018

Ken Poyner's "Perilous Promenade"
Ken Poyner's "Perilous Promenade"
We were not ready. All of us have been aware for time unyielding that they were growing more numerous, spreading cloud-like in our midst. Each of us has had to gingerly steer around one as he or she stood perilous unaware of the human foot tracking going parted past. Who has not been jostled as one sped inconsolably towards a locational goal? Who has not been stopped in predicted progress while two of them in the middle of the planned pathway stand gamboling with each other in unlacquered, rambling conversation.

Yes. Mall Zombies. We thought we had more time to design a defense, to craft a response, to dream an insidious offense. But they are everywhere now.

They step out of stores, move three feet into the shuffling pedestrian traffic, stop, and begin looking about as if for victims. Or as if they had never seen this nation and were trying to fix their unfamiliarity. They shuffle in design like a ping-pong ball in a tornado of paddles. Or they stop for no reason, emulating a traffic cone. How many of us have been bedeviled by a mother who has parked her perambulator long-ways across the walkway, push out from her at arm’s length, her smart phone in one hand, its pernicious glow ghosting her face?

I have come to believe that the key to their rapid expansion is, in fact, those smart phones. Chattering we thought at first only gibberish, commonplaces, pass-times and cotton candy for the mind, they seem ubiquitous in the hands of Mall Zombies. Could it be that they are sharing strategy, arranging ever more annoying encounters, bringing the zombie army on-line? How do these Mall Zombies find the choke points in traffic flow? They seem to arrive in twos and threes in places where the traffic plane narrows, where maintenance equipment temporarily closes off alternative egress. They sometimes appear in waves – one wandering aimlessly twelve feet behind where another reels aimlessly, twelve feet behind a smart phone mother with carriage and children spread out along side her, executing a classic picket fence maneuver.

Could it be the smart phones? Behind that glassy veneer of Mall Zombie expressionlessness, perhaps there is a sensitivity to certain codes or sequences, embedded collegiate symbols, hieroglyphics that direct to points of clutter, areas of limited traffic flow, minefields of seemingly random obstacles. Could it be?

Do not judge too quickly. You may look at one of these bumbling Mall Zombies and think, oh no, those smart phones are used just for endless repetition, for achieving that wondrously deep state of utter befuddlement, unconcern, thoughtlessness that so disfigures and defines the Mall Zombie. Do not think that because we are not attuned to the possibly runic, possibly alchemical hidden message in those smart phones it means they are not there. Those tribal messages are not meant for us and when we by accident see them, we do not absorb the direction, we merely shake our heads in disbelief that anyone could devote their time to such blinding background noise. But we are not part of the clan. We are not of the hive.

If we do not take care, all movement at the mall will come to a stop. You will only be able to enter stores if they have an outside ingress – and, even there, you will have to beware of Mall Zombies stopped just inside or outside the doorway, mouth hanging perilously disjointed, eyes a-glaze and each uncommunicating eyeball independently pointed precariously at a small, insensitively glowing screen. 

A screen, I suspect, that more than sucking brains from victims, creating an intellectual doldrum that leads the holder to be a willing impediment to civil locomotion, is actually providing instruction, marshalling the robot army. The Mall Zombies are not ignoring you, not simply foregoing courtesy in public deportment – no, they are being used by some deeper digital purpose, confounding and harassing the rest of us. And this may be only the trial run.

TheDigitalArtist - Creative Commons -
The Hacktivist - The Digital Artist -

Ken Poyner's "Perilous Promenade" is outside looking into the daily lives of smartphone users. The Mall Zombies are not a fictional work. They are real! They are many of us who have something more important at hand instead of the journey that was meant to be taken.

This Mall Zombie is treacherously at the stoplight too! He or she is so confident that they can juggle it all that they will punch the gas peddle when the light turns green. Carelessly entering the intersection where another Mall Zombie runs the red. Collision and control.

And if you're reading this on your smartphone. Put it down now and look around.

See More of Ken Poyner's work at:

© Ken Poyner / OgFOMK ArTS -- 2018 All Rights Reserved. - "Perilous Promenade"

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