Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”
My initial reaction to Bradbury’s “The Veldt” was that I was completely unprepared for how disturbing it is. The emphasis on the lions is incredibly unsettling throughout the story, for good reason I might add, but the implications of the technology even more horrifying. Lions are allowed to be scary simply because they are big and powerful and could kill me without batting an eye, but I think their ability to stalk their prey and stare with their cold eyes is a key factor in making this story so terrifying. (I must say that Geoff Johnson’s illustrations really help sell the fear-inducing stalky vibes.) But as stalking is part of a lion’s life, we as a society have kind of absorbed it into ours too with our dependence on technology and desire for ease.
The whole time I was reading Bradbury’s words, I just kept thinking about Amazon, echo shows and dots, and Alexa. Of course, Alexa’s presence in our homes is not nearly as extreme as the technological dependence of the Hadleys’ house, but our relationship with Alexa, or any other technology like Amazon’s, is far too close to Bradbury’s fictional world, and use of stalking, for comfort.
My family recently jumped on the Alexa train during the pandemic so that we can communicate and keep an eye on my grandmothers. While sometimes it is comforting to know that we can reach my family easier, it also sends my brain into a downward spiral when I think too hard about how the machinery is always listening, and that the technology is way smarter than any of us have a grasp on. My generation jokes all the time about FBI agents in our phones and that the internet knows everything about it, but underneath that nonchalant comedy is some real nightmare fuel. We really are being stalked y’all!! I mean it’s not as scary as it could be because we are all at least somewhat aware that we are being monitored by our technology, but still! “The Veldt” really has me questioning my phone and Alexa right now, but this is the life we’re living in! Stay safe and aware out there folks, and tell your FBI agents and Alexas that we are watching them too.