I was thinking recently, it’s a good thing that some of our more renowned historical figures weren’t around in modern times. I suspect these folks wouldn’t be quite so revered today if they were making their mark in the 21st century.
Think about it. Patrick Henry made quite a stir with his whole “give me liberty or give me death!” rally cry to the Virginia Convention in 1775, possibly swaying the outcome of the Revolutionary War in the process. Those delegates might not have been so impassioned had he shown up wearing a Homer Simpson t-shirt and a pair of Crocs rather than the powdered wig and flowing robe common in that era. It’s hard to take a guy wearing perforated, brightly colored rubber shoes seriously. Likewise, would George Washington have been elected President had he wintered through Valley Forge in a Goretex microfleece jacket with polyfill-lined sleeves, a detachable hood and zippered pockets? I don’t know. That look hardly screams “leader” to me.
Would anybody remember the midnight ride of Paul Revere had it taken place in a Smart Car, with a detour through the Taco Bell drive-through for a late night Gordita? (Hey, even patriots get hungry!). Come to think of it, the ride wouldn’t even have been necessary. Paul could’ve gotten the word out easier via a simple Twitter update. “The British are coming!” #1_if_by_land.
Benjamin Franklin would surely never have flown a kite in a thunderstorm, as a simple Google search would have alerted him to the danger of such an act…and Doppler radar would have shown him any approaching storm cells, anyway. Other tragedies might have been averted, as well. The Donner Party would never have taken the Hastings Cutoff and fallen behind schedule, because the emigrants would have had at least one GPS unit guiding them step-by-step over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
It pains me to think how different some of our classic works of literature would read. Take William Shakespeare, for instance. What if The Bard had been a typical teenager in 2010? Not only would he have traded in the quill for a laptop, but his plays and sonnets would be written in a different language entirely, to appeal to today’s text-happy generation. Can you imagine what Hamlet would look like?
2 B or not 2 B: that is the ?
Whether itz nobler n the mind 2 suffer the slings & arrows of outrageous fortune,
or 2 take arms against a C of troubles + by opposing end them?
Let’s suppose Edgar Allan Poe also came of age in the era of smart phones and emoticons. One of his most famous poems might start out like this:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`OMG,’ I muttered, `WTF is that tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more. 😦 ‘
Words aren’t the only things that would change; entire plots would differ quite a bit from the originals. William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies, for example, would still center around a group of British schoolboys marooned on a deserted island…but while there, they would be subjected to “immunity challenges” and every week, would vote one of their “tribe members” off the island. The pig on a stick? That’s called dinner. In Moby Dick, Captain Ahab would still be obsessed with chasing the great white whale, but instead of a first mate named Starbuck, he’d be drinking lattes from Starbucks whenever he reached port. And ol’ Humbert Humbert wouldn’t even have reached first base with Lolita because the Feds would have nabbed his perverted ass after finding photos of underage girls on his hard drive.
As much fun as it is to rewrite history, I’m glad all these guys lived when they did. Maybe someday our 22nd-century counterparts will look back on our culture and add jetpacks to the Twilight saga.
That would be a real travesty, huh, Team Edward?