Old Hairy Legs Rides Again

by Marie T. Sullivan

January 29, 2023

In our times, unseen forces apparently are working to render Americans comfortably complacent, open to manipulation, and downright stupid. How to achieve this end? In part, through the combination of powerful personal technology and voracious consumerism.

I am no ascetic. I like a nice, expensive, soft leather handbag handcrafted in Italy as much as the next girl. I own one, and feel special on the rare occasions I take it out—rare given the relatively dreary times in which we live. I stroke the leather as I load its beautifully upholstered innards with lipstick and tissue and a crisp twenty-dollar bill in a ritual known to women the world over as Changing Purses. My fine leather clutch is a thing of beauty.

Given Big Tech, however, consumerism is roaring out of control. Pandemic-induced staying at home has engendered ever more online buying, leaving us prey to dancing, targeted ads designed to make us want still more. And Amazon wants us to stay home, increasing our reliance on the products they purvey while they harvest our keystrokes.

Could it be a conspiracy? Surely the aforementioned unseen forces are at work to reduce us to the status of economic animals, couch consumers, less than human, mouths wide open like those trolling, bottom-feeding scavenger fish.

Too much time at home with devices dulls us, weakening our resistance to bad ideas, too, the next step in the plan of the Unseen Forces. Bored into consuming a good deal of inane content, we can be lured in to consuming harmful ideas as well as products.

Who’s behind it all? Big Tech alone? The federal government, seeking to control us?

In essence, it’s Satan. Old Hairy Legs, as he’s been called from the time of Milton. The Prince of Lies. The King of Subtlety.

What more subtle way of ruining a human soul than by slowly filling it with false desires that lead to emptiness? Or forcing it into home-based idleness that fosters marital tension, depression and even the delicious, diabolical triumph of an occasional suicide? Old temptations, powerful new e-tools.

Mention the devil at a cocktail party and you won’t be invited a second time. Not that I would do so, sophisticate that I am. But who has been to a real cocktail party lately? I look forward to the restoration of real, grownup parties with witty and intelligent conversation, and to wearing one of several crisp cocktail dresses that hang dormant in my closet. And carrying my Italian leather clutch.

Ah, adult conversation. A dinner party of six reasonably like-minded people is one of life’s joys. Such parties are at last resuming, post-pandemic. Maybe in 2023 the dreariness will subside. In the meantime one must refuse to become discouraged, discouragement being a well-known tool of the devil.

In the meantime, it’s helpful simply to recall that Old Hairy Legs is at work. It explains a lot.

Here’s another problem with our devilish addiction to devices: Too Much Bad News. Our news feeds deliver more than human beings can hold. Surely Satan enjoys saturating us with murders and mayhem.

A highly intelligent friend now in his grave, a secularist and man of the Left, once sat with me in a Chicago park as we watched a circle of young people silently consulting their phones, ignoring one another. Suddenly he commented, “You know, if I were the devil I would invent I-phones.” Coming from an atheist it was a remarkable observation.

Americans are distracted. A few years back in a televised interview, a reformed professional thief explained that a respectable street theft once required the talents of three collaborators: one to cause a distraction, one to commit the theft, and one to drive the getaway car. No longer is the distractor necessary, he reported. I-phones serve the purpose.

Readers of a certain age will recall the Young People’s Concerts Leonard Bernstein presented with the New York Philharmonic in the ‘sixties, well worth watching now. Bernstein is incomparable, but an added treat in viewing these broadcasts in our own time is to observe, as cameras pan the audience, a thousand well-scrubbed adolescents listening with obvious interest and not one of them has a device. Those grainy, black-and-white broadcasts delight the viewer even aside from the musical concepts so brilliantly presented by Bernstein. They remind us of a world before galloping vulgarity, much of it conveyed electronically.

But then, to paraphrase St. Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well.”

So cheer up, everyone. All of this is just Old Hairy Legs up to his old tricks, frolicking on his playground with his new tools, causing us to e-isolate and crave shiny goods we don’t need. It’s easy to forget about him, with all our distractions, and who was it who said that his greatest achievement was making modern man think he doesn’t exist at all?

What to do? Resist. Do real things, like playing ball, playing the piano, throwing intimate dinner parties. Better still, laugh out loud at him. They say the old sot hates nothing more.


An Ohio native, Marie T. (Terry) Sullivan has lived in Chicagoland for all of her adult life. She has a degree in music, with flute as her principal instrument, but turned to singing in small vocal ensembles after college. In more recent years she took another musical turn, to singing jazz. By day she works for a Chicago nonprofit.

For two years she served as culture editor for the now defunct Chicago Daily Observer.

Comments 32

  1. I loved the article and plan to quote a line from it on “social” media. I’ll paraphrase it a tad to point it toward social media instead of the cell phone mentioned by your atheist companion. Thanks for pinch hitting for John while he recovers.

  2. Happy Sunday John. I pray that you well and have healed we need you. I have recommended you to so many people. You are the only truthful writer on the scene right now. Please I am so sad at the stupidity of the Voters. Young people that I know in the City ask me whom to Vote for Mayor and they do not seem to want any of the Candidates. Chicago is starting to look like old Detroit, stores closed, crime on the Streets and no Police or strong Mayor to stop all this nonsense. Over 1 Million people have walked into our Country, we do not know who they are and where they are going. Democrats wanted them here for their Vote so they never have to run for office again. I know young women that work for domestic help and was told they already have a green card, free money and get this. FREE HEALTH CARE. That floored me. I remember that was the reason Obama care was designed for. We work 7 days a week pay our taxes and the Socialist Government we created is giving away our money while the American Citizens go hungry, get robbed, and raped, by thugs. We have allowed the minority Citizens to run our Country and our lives, and they are making us feel so guilty that we have allowed this stupidity. Please it is time for us to speak up, we are not RACISTS the people accusing us are. Please help the people by writing and exposing the Evil among us. Our children are brainwashed, the schools are all about what the Unions want to teach, our Universities are doomed, and our people are so scared they are hiding. Someone help and please let’s find someone that can change this awful way of life we are experiencing and I pray for our young. AMERICA NEEDS HELP AND NEEDS IT NOW. Stop with the brainwashing, the thugs, mutilations of young people, and etc. AMERICA IS BANKRUPT PEOPLE. Did you know that? Do you care?

  3. I concur with this perceptive take. Pre-pandemic I was in an elevator in downtown Chicago at a university full of college students. There was NO conversation. I felt sad for them. I no longer go to movie theaters because of the phones and talking. I used to love the Siskel Film Center but the oldsters at the Friday matinee (my cohort) wouldn’t stop behaving as though they were in their living rooms, loud talking and iPhones.

    1. So true.
      You can buy a sign that reads:
      “WE DO NOT HAVE WI-FI….Talk to each other and pretend it’s 1995”
      This sign should be hung in every bar and restaurant.

  4. George Carlin was speaking out on the demise of America before his death. Otis been twenty years and it has only gotten worse. He spoke about fat, lazy, dumb Americans walking around the mall paying 18 percent to buy stuff they don’t need while stuffing their faces with unhealthy food.

    He said the “owners” of the nation wanted to keep the populace just smart enough to run the machines and do the necessary paperwork, but too dumb to realize they’re being screwed over.

    Netflix had Don’t Look Up recently. There was an Asteroid hurtling towards Earth and president Meryl Streep had a chance to save the planet, but was overruled by her high tech donor who had unlimited access to the Oval Office.

    We are not far from that as we fight wars over the needs and wants of the oligarchy already, and peddle a faulty vaccine that likely does more harm than good, at lesast for younger healthy people.

  5. Yay! Another comrade in arms against the wacky culture in which we live. You are right on about distraction, pessimism, and a loss of adulting. I’m lucky to have a few close friends to travel or dine with; and we talk books, music, and our lives. Conversations can be deep or light. All that matters is the connection to other human beings on this journey of life.

    Great column!

  6. I’ll give you credit, I’ve read a hundred versions of the ‘kids and these dam iPhones!’ column by writers who raised before their introduction, but this is the first one that blamed satan! I vividly recall playing ball in the street, then never playing ball in the street because my best buddy got a Nintendo for Christmas and another buddy got a Betamax, and had the internet existed there would have been columns like this one written by boomer parents complaint about ‘kids and that damn Nintendo!’ Instead of focusing on imaginary conversations that aren’t taking place (reality-they are, silently across screens..) try focusing on the miracle of owning a pocket sized computer that can access information , music and even monitor your health. If Satan truly exists (he doesn’t..) then I believe he’s working as a grievance merchant at Fox News, monitoring popular culture for anything he can accuse of being ‘woke…’

  7. There are the upsides and downsides. The new face-in-the-phone generation has my kids being closer to their cousins and friends making geographic distance a non variable.
    And while this technology may be a sorry direction for our country it appears to be becoming a tool for the citizens of countries that would harm us, to hasten the demise of those countries.
    Stay tuned and remember that a lot of us thought the country would not survive the ’70s.

  8. Great column! Nice to know there are still adults in the room. A while back I was at O’Hare waiting for a flight and I noticed a bunch of millennials lined up against the wall staring at their phones and I casually thought ” ..they’re spending time with their New God…”. A couple of years ago, where I now reside a woman unfortunately drove her car into a flooded creek and drowned. She spent the last few minutes of her life furiously texting people for help. She thought that her new God would save her rather than using her actual power of reasoning and critical thinking to save herself. Her New God failed her in her most critical moment of need. Critical thinking and maybe a skill like how to read a road map are things no longer being taught to our children in schools. Dependence on technology has replaced critical thought and independent thinking. It is much easier to indoctrinate your children this way when you’ve succeeded in creating a New God for them to worship. If you were to try to discipline your child by taking a cell phone privilege away, much as your parents might have restricted your television watching when you were a child, you would now probably be faced with threats of violence or actual suicide. The New God dictates its absolute worship. We live in very, very strange times for sure. Thankfully it seems that people are starting to see through the dirt and falsehoods created by television, print and social media so maybe there’s still hope. People are starting to turn the garbage off. Maybe there’s hope after all. Maybe.

  9. Excellent article.
    The practice of “changing purses” is alive and well in our household.
    I don’t disagree with anything said in the article.
    Social gatherings pretty much went the way of social distancing.
    I get the distinct feeling that Old Hairy Legs thought we were having too much fun; too much joy in our lives.
    Regardless, B Bub must be over-joyed that we have become a “glass half-empty” society.
    No longer filled with optimism and vigor, we go about our business, wearing a face diaper when required and waiting for the next variant or executive order to drop.
    Recently, I found myself pondering if I was feeling the effects from the COVID booster shots or simply feeling the effects of the COVID pandemic in general. I concluded the latter.
    It has changed us all; except for the kids. Kids find a way to be kids, even with a phone permanently affixed to their hands and their eyes glued to the screen. Thumbs are in ready mode for the next tweet.
    Having been a kid once, I will not be overly critical. But, let me ask: how many of today’s kids would lie on their backs in a field, look up at the heavens and wonder about the many “what ifs” of their existence? My guess is that they would simply Google it.
    Cocktail parties and online shopping sound like polar opposites to me. In fact; I can’t reconcile their use in the same sentence.
    Cocktail parties emote visions of ascots, long cigarette holders, a piano playing softly and martinis.
    Online shopping? I just ordered a golf warm up club and club covers yesterday from Amazon.
    We have adapted to a world that will never be the same again in a way that leaves us frustrated and apathetic.
    I wish it were as simple as changing purses.

  10. A very appropriate article on a Sunday. The Lord’s Day. Many people believe in God or a higher spiritual being. But people scoff when you bring the the Devil and say there is not such thing. The Devil is at strong work these days.

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