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The Perfect Shut Up Toy for Adults

„Comforter / Schnuller“ by Jacqueline Godany under CC BY-SA 2.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons

(There is a German version of this article over here.)

I just learned about the perfect machine to turn 300 adults into a perfectly silent and nearly frozen flock of sheep in a jiffy.

Let’s start with an educational expression I learned from Katrin Hille: the Shut Up Toy.

It refers to a device that you give to children to make them quiet and motionless. In educational discourses this is mostly about an app or a video on your smartphone or tablet. This of course is not totally new. It was already here in the pre-digital age when television (or videos) could tranquilize not only children for a large share of their waking hours. (And, as Clay Shirky might add, to waste a huge amount of our cognitive surplus.) You might even go back to a pacifier which literally is a Shut Up Toy. Smartphone and tablet are the perfection of the pacifier as a shut ip toy.

Das InFlight Entertainment System als Shut Up Toy für Erwachsene
In-flight entertainment system, wich is the perfect shut up toy for adults

As I’m writing this text I’m sitting in a small seat well 35000 feet above the atlantic waves. I’m sharing maybe 200 sq. m. with 300 people. For eight hours we are cooped up in a Boeing 777-300ER and we better get along well. It would be best if all of us would just shut up for eight hours and don’t move to much. For this purpose the airline  built the perfect machine: The In-flight entertainment system on long distance flights, which is the perfect shut up toy for adults.

Hundreds of movies, dozens of games and (for the pseudo-intellectuals among us) some readings and podcasts. This machine literally turns 300 adults into a quiet and frozen flock of sheep.

We like this condition. It works for me as well. I evenbrought my own Shut Up Toys: a laptop, a smartphone, and my earphones. To ensure they will last for eight hours the airline offers me an AC-socket, a USB-port and maybe a bit of WiFi.

Four more hours to go. I’m going to meditate on  how this idea of a Shut Up Toy system can be transfered from a 200 sq. m. airplane to a whole society. Or I might watch this new movie .

tl;dr: The in-flight entertainment system on a long distance flight is the perfect shut up toy for adults. This machine literally turns 300 adults into a tranquilized and frozen flock of sheep.

(There is a German version of this article over here.)

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