I trudge past several million dollars worth of 3DTVs, looking for a good place to take a shit. The toilets are all filthy. CES attendees are overwhlemingly men. Men are filthy, especially when they've been drinking too much coffee and eating Vegas buffets.
So I duck into the ladies' room. It is empty and pristine. For the first time since I arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I find some quiet.
I hide in the bathroom for about 20 minutes, playing Carcasonne and not thinking. I need this — I was up until 4.30 in the morning, playing poker and blackjack and drinking beer with Giz US and Gizmodo Australia.
I DM Mike Tyson on Twitter, hoping to get him to come look at some gadgets with me, but he's in Spain shooting a commercial. I just want everyone to look at some gadgets with me.
Then it's time for a meeting, so I scuttle out through a maze of ocular and aural assaults, past booth after booth of headset-wearing pitchmen doing their best Billy Mays. Deep in the middle of the din, I meet yet another PR person whom I'll never see again in my life, and settle in for a demo of another product I already know I'm not going to write about.
People keep coughing on me. I try to listen politely, all the while wondering if I have the flu. I got my flu shot on December 29. I can't help but wonder if it has activated yet. They tell you that it takes 14 days for antibodies to become effective, but that can vary from person to person. I take the press release and wander away past walls and walls of blinking, humming electronics.
I try to remember all the products I've talked about that I won't even bother to cover — and that nobody's going to buy. There were some Bluetooth speakers. Or maybe they were Wi-Fi. But there was definitely a helmet cam. And a waterproof phone. And a tablet and an ultrabook and an OLED TV. There was ennui upon ennui upon ennui set in this amazing temple to technology.
I imagine tuning all the television sets to hardcore gay porn, just to see the spectacle of it all. I fantasise that I am the only one here, in a post-apocalyptic trade show. Alone among these elaborate booths. Free to scamper up on top of them. Free to grab what I want and actually play with it, like a child. I want to see it all catch fire. I want to pour gasoline in the ducts and light a long fuse, and watch from the street as it burns and burns and burns. My guess is that the flames would quite beautiful, coloured by chemical washes and treated glass. My hangover is killing me.
An executive in a really nice suit from an up-and-coming display company tells me they plan to ship a half a million units this year. I try to figure out how much that is in kilograms of rare earth metals, but I can't. Wolfram Alpha turns out to be pretty useless for this kind of thing. The CEO is available for interviews.
There is a hole in my heart dug deep by advertising and envy and a desire to see a thing that is new and different and beautiful. A place within me that is empty, and that I want to fill it up. The hole makes me think electronics can help. And of course, they can.
They make the world easier and more enjoyable. They boost productivity and provide entertainment and information and sometimes even status. At least for a while. At least until they are obsolete. At least until they are garbage.
Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity; gilt in Gorilla Glass and cadmium. And in them we find entertainment in lieu of happiness, and exchanges in lieu of actual connections.
And, oh, I am guilty. I am guilty. I am guilty.
I feel that way too. More than most, probably. I'm forever wanting something new. Something I've never seen before, that no one else has. Something that will be both an extension and expression of my person. Something that will take me away from the world I actually live in and let me immerse myself in another. Something that will let me see more details, take better pictures, do more at once, work smarter, run faster, live longer.
Maybe I've even made you feel that way too.
A sad cavalcade of fat men with roll-aboard luggage rushes past, looking at their phones as they walk, blocking my way.
The TV Art Frame from Art Motion Technology will cover your flat panel television like a window frame. "The window illusion is an actual piece of canvas artwork from the palate of Artist David Christopher Miller" and is available in sizes from 37 inches to 65 inches in various colours and styles. I do not care, and I do not care, and I do not care.