While I Was Gone, The World Changed

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Commentator Andrei Codrescu returns from a long vacation to find that the world has jumped ahead as if many years have passed in two months' time.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Commentator Andrei Codrescu went away for an extended holiday. He's back now, amazed at how much and how quickly the world has changed.

ANDREI CODRESCU: These days if you take a vacation you're likely to come back to another planet. Rip van Winkle's 20 years is about 10 seconds now.

While you were gone, something called the Tea Party drank all the Kool-Aid in America. Somebody wrote in the New York Times that the Tea Partiers are the new beatniks.

A car that drives itself was seen all over San Francisco. President Obama went from Messiah to Stalin. Health care went from utopia to who the hell cares. The bankrupt economy is heading for Wall Street records. The banks went from drowning in debt to drowning in cash. The foreclosed got their sentences commuted.

The iPhone was demoted by Android, from God to just another deity. The Nobel Prize for literature finally went to someone who writes great books. Not answering an email in 10 minutes used to mean you're dead, but now 10 seconds is enough. After 10 minutes, they've already filed away your obituary.

The only thing that stayed the same while I was in the woods listening for extinct animals was television. Television stayed the same. The bad guys stayed bad, and the good guys got just a little badder, not enough, anyway, to make them unrecognizable. The TV starlets changed their faces, but their vices remained constant, reassuring.

Before I went into the woods to listen to new insects born of global warming, I thought that unplugging my face from Facebook might send me into rehab, where all the utopians are, but nothing happened. That was reassuring, too.

The social media got more social, and more people found people who agree with them. That, too, was reassuring. What wasn't so reassuring was what they were agreeing about.

While I was away watching spiders weave webs, my clothes went out of style. They never were in style, so that too makes me feel that it's okay to be back. I feel like a poor European coming back from the beach after a whole month of socialist vacation, and I was only gone a week.

BLOCK: Andrei Codrescu is author of the book, "Poetry Lesson."

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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