The human touch

Matt Morgan
May 27, 2014
In an age of technology, repetition, and automation, the human soul still burns brighter than any LED.
 
It may seem like one of those obvious things to hear or say, "We need humans." Well, duh, right? We just presume they'll be there. Similar to when we breathe or digest food. It just happens. We just expect to have people around us to talk to, be entertained by, or receive a service. Something so copious that exists all around us always seems to fall into the background as boorish or normal.
 
I want to take you on a tour of just what humanity can do to retake otherwise artificial or mundane concepts. We are going to delve into culture and come up with treasures, gleaming points of light, that will hopefully flicker before your eyes and provide you comfort and warmth in what may seem to be an otherwise cold, distant world of artifice and proxy.
 
Video Games
Video games can often remove us from normal life by giving us something else to explore or do. Electric dots and polygons move before us as music blips and chirps in our ears. Pre-scripted characters act out what they're told and despite the claim to be a "sandbox" game, we are still limited in the grand scope of what we can do. If you would like to appreciate an injection of humanity into them, try giving these videos a shot:
 
 
Brentalfloss has a long history of taking the themes of various games and applying lyrics to them that don't officially exist. Sometimes the lyrics provide a great synopsis of the game itself, or others, a fan's perspective of the game. In the video provided, he takes characters out of the classic RPG "Final Fantasy" and has them sing about their hopes and dreams. This is something that isn't always explored when video game characters are just a vehicle for game mechanics. Parent's: some of brentalfloss's songs outside this one do have adult language or suggestive lines to them, however he does have "PG" versions of his songs, too.
 
 
Smooth McGroove is a one-man (and cat) a capella group. He takes the digital bleeps and wub-wubs of gaming music and mixes each part himself singing separately into a combined track. Against the background of the game to which he is referring, this jolly, bearded man does an excellent job of humanizing a synthetic experience. As a bonus, you can challenge yourself to find his cat that appears in various frames where he isn't otherwise singing a part. His channel is family friendly to the best of my experience.
 
Electronic Music
While humans do compose the music (sometimes? mostly?), in many respects the sounds and songs of this genre are uniquely mechanical. However, similar to what Smooth McGroove above does, check out how this group takes artificial noise and puts a human face and experience to it:
 
This a capella group does a fantastic job of combining their voices through song and beatboxing to provide an amazing amount of creativity to their performances. While they are not your grandfather's barbershop quartet (or quintet as it were), this group does a fantastic job reaching out to today's culture.
 
While this group embraces and uses the digital rhythms of electronic music, it is their dance style that brings a human experience to it. Human in basic form and even in the concepts their dance displays, it is a refreshing reminder that their routine takes actual blood and not batteries to pump legs and arms in the dark. A similar group is called Team iLuminate who actually got third place in the sixth season of "America's Got Talent". That show, itself, is a wonderful reminder of just what we are capable of doing as a species and acts as a great source of inspiration.
 
Flash Mobs
When you go to the mall you wouldn't expect to have a bunch of strangers to suddenly burst out into song and dance like you were in a musical, would you? How much do we actually think about others when we shop? Often it is the other people in the store that are there getting in your way, talking too loudly on the phone, or kids up to mischief, right? Enter the flash mob:
 
Seemingly pulling random shoppers out of the crowd to dance is a recurring theme for this popular YouTube user. He has made some very interesting flash mobs that offer a respite from the soul-crushing drudgery of commerce to get us to enjoy a moment out of our day at the efforts of he and others. He also has some other amusing videos, some of which can have suggestive dialog, parents. But otherwise these are fun to watch.
 
Maybe not all flash mobs are actually mobs, but here's another example of someone who crashes a scene with his saxophone to amuse those who are there. Not always to success...or the pleasure of those in the area. But even a random surprise of something out of the norm can give us a story to bring home and share with others. Either alone or with a group, flash mob at your own risk or authorization!
 
Retelling Tales
As time rolls on sometimes the lessons of the past fall to the wayside. Old ways of teaching morals or even providing entertainment can become outdated. The new replaces the old, the new becomes the old, and the process repeats. History is lost as the books that chronicle become dusty or irrelevant in a digital age. While these things are works of mankind, they can somehow lose their relevancy and human charm. Intents are lost, purposes obfuscated by the mists of cultural change. So it is up to we humans to keep our lessons and entertainment relevant for our future generations.
 
We revisit this contributor again as he retells the tales of some of Disney's famous cartoons from the villains' points of view set to the music and routine of the number "Cell Block Tango" from the musical "Chicago." It takes old stories and cartoons from our past and gives them a unique twist with faces recognizable to many modern kids and adults.
 
While this rap battle is fairly tame, as a caution to parents, others do have some language or references in it that you would want to watch first for appropriateness or ability to provide context. This channel is fascinating for pitting two figures from history against each other in a back and forth rap contest to see who "wins" according to the audience. In the span of about two minutes a surprising amount of references to the figures are included in the lyrics and backgrounds of their dancing. While these may not end up in your local classroom, it took great effort on the creators' parts to bring such topics into modern culture.
 
Hopefully your spirit has been rekindled and imagination stoked. Humanity is important to itself in ways that can often be lost to the hum of our individual lives and society at large. Don't be afraid to instill your own humanity in something that doesn't seem to have it. In addition to it contributing to our culture and diversity, this is the core value to entrepreneurship. It is YOU who will do what needs done in order to provide the goods and services others need, want, and desire. It is YOU who will do the tough jobs and make the hard decisions. It is YOU who will make the sacrifices.
 
It will then be you who gets to share a page of human history, and hopefully for the betterment of all.

 

Comments

Contango

Off-topic.

FYI:

"The Myth of the Climate Change '97%'"

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http://online.wsj.com/news/artic...

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What's the flying squirrel's name?

As I recall, I've only seen one in my life in the wild.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

It's perhaps a bit generic but I refer to him as "Hero" and he's the unofficial mascot of the store. There's some symbolism and other behind-the-scenes stuff laced into him, but on the surface he's fun and approachable by all ages and genders.

EDIT: I forgot he is also known as "Squee" as that is often the noise he invokes (primarily in the girls) as it is one of joy and excitement. So he's a.k.a. "Squee the Squeerrel".

Stop It

If he had a fighter pilot's headgear on you could call him Rocky.

Rocky wasn't fond of Boris nor Natasha and I even think he felt he had to babysit Bullwinkle.

That was a long time ago, though. ;)

Think, Cold War, 1960's.