People in our community might be too dazed from the overabundance of sun, beer, and funnel cakes at last weekend’s Artist Alley festivities to notice, but October is apparently a very important month in our state now. Much-esteemed Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will be signing an official proclamation this morning, designating October as “Zombie Preparedness Month.”

Recognizing zombies is an appropriate gesture for a governor got into office because of so many mindless and dead-eyed voters. It’s nice that that Brownback took time away from his busy schedule to make such an important public declaration. Any speech he makes on this topic will surely remind the portion of the public who pays attention to zombies why the most evil character on that “Walking Dead” show was nicknamed “the Governor.” Attending a few Brownback campaign appearances really made me relate to the lead characters on that program.

This designation is officially being made as a way to promote emergency preparedness in the state, as he released a statement that suggested that citizens who prepare for a zombie attack will be prepared for anything. He is advocating that people prepare a disaster kit and develop a well-practiced emergency plan.

Brownback is right that the secret to surviving a catastrophe is to properly prepare for it, which is the only way some of us got through his reelection.

During “Zombie Preparedness Month,” emergency management staff and other public agencies in the state will provide information and zombie-preparedness challenges on social media. That seems like a fun idea, unless there’s a real emergency in this state. Kansas emergency employees shouldn’t be ignoring that type of thing in order to compose more zombie-themed Tweets.   

There are enough people acting like zombies these days that devoting a month to the topic seems like overkill. Technology and the Internet can often seem like a nasty virus that takes over people’s brains. Groans can be heard from those who shuffle through the aisles of Wal-Mart after a Netflix binge, or try to get through the workday so they can log back onto their Facebooks and their Twitters. It seems like this happens to all of us these days; it’s a “zombie” virus that seemingly can’t be avoided.

Birthdays and holidays are celebrated almost exclusively through social media. That is how we tell most people “Get well,” “Thank you,” or send condolences. Romantic relationships aren’t official anymore, until they’re serious enough to inspire a social media status change.

There’s no need to cook anymore, with online food delivery. No one is spending a day wandering through book and record stores, with literature and music so widely available at the touch our fingers. Spending a fun day getting lost on random highways or dirt roads seems a foreign concept to those of us who navigate exclusively through GPS-driven phone apps.

Political debates and social protests are now settled online, instead of through any actual social interaction. Not even criminals have to leave the house anymore to steal things or make threats against people.

Even though I am envious that kids today have much cooler technological toys than I ever did, I feel bad for these kids who seem to spend most of their lives indoors with their faces glued to flat screens.

It’s hard to imagine that an actual zombie apocalypse would have a greater negative impact on our daily lives than technology has. We have willingly let it rob us of any independent spirit or individual will. We’ve created a society where few of us have actual conversations with people we know anymore. Apparently, the apocalypse that we have all been preparing for is us.

Maybe this is what the governor could address in his public proclamations instead of wasting our time with a silly “Zombie Preparedness Month.” Perhaps, he could suggest that we spend a certain amount of time per day without our faces stuck to our devices. Maybe, he could remind us that it’s okay to drive without a disembodied voice telling us when to turn. Perhaps, he could explain that it’s healthy for kids go outside, breathe actual oxygen, and look at what nature created instead of spending all day looking at what Steve Jobs created. Our state might be better served if people realized their mothers would rather hear “I love you” in person and feel an actual embrace than get an obligatory Mother’s Day text message or Facebook comment.

I am not suggesting that we totally give up all technology. I am just saying that maybe we should put down our devices and actually talk and listen to each other every once in a while, before we all acquire the basic communication skills of the average zombie.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, or invitations to highly important statewide “Zombie Preparedness Month” events to brian@chanute.com

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