A Virtual Mind

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Floetry Fridays with Nicole 

Shel Silverstein’s “Jimmy Jet and his TV Set” is a childhood classic of mine, published in the poetry anthology named “Where the Sidewalk Ends” back in 1974. This poetry book is geared towards children and that is translated on paper with the simplified language and fantasy themes seen throughout the book. However, this poem holds a meaning that is even more relevant in today’s time in comparison to when it was published. We live in a modernized world, completely dependent on advanced technology to the point of being imprisoned in our own minds. This poem is a comical take on the average person’s obsessions with inanimate objects, rather than the tangible reality around them.

Jimmy, is a representation of someone who is not self-sufficient, but instead relies on his television set to entertain and stimulate his mind. This rings true for many today, especially the youth in a world where infinite amounts of technology can be made available with the click of a button. The ways of communication are becoming increasingly reliant on a text message through a screen, or a comment on a social media site, rather than personal interactions. Jimmy’s world is in his television screen, and as the days grow longer he starts to lose himself and takes on the identity of his TV set. His family, indifferent to this transformation further implies how detached people have become in regards to everyday life. Jimmy is no longer a person, but a TV set and yet now his family are just spectators who question nothing about such an unrealistic and otherworldly occurrence. That this is what people have become as a whole human race; robots and zombies who are completely unable to disassociate themselves fully with this technologically growing world.

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” was published forty-three years ago. This was many years before widely dependent objects such as cell phones, laptops and DVDs existed. The 1970s was a time where if someone wanted to visit someone, they would have to make a house call or go over to visit them. A time where people would go to the movies to see a film and not binge-watch entire seasons of shows on Netflix within a week span. Therefore, this message is an extremely scary one, considering how there was no access to the things of today’s age. Silverstein was on to something about the oppression of technology, and how although much good can come from it, that it must be monitored and not allowed to control every aspect of our lives.  His clever way to address this in a childlike manner was a plea to parents and the youth to take a stand, and not become their own version of Jimmy Jet with whatever their technological poison is. That we should all be the ones watching the world through OUR eyes, not from the eyes of a screen.

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