It’s a quiet Tuesday afternoon and I sit at my computer thinking of the cell phone that I have purposely left in the kitchen and my internal dialogue goes something like this: “Was it a good idea to leave it on the table? Maybe I should go get it, what if I need to look up something?” Never mind that I’m sitting at a computer where the world practically lives at my fingertips anyway…no, somehow the phone seems important, necessary even. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was having a slight case of separation anxiety.
The situation sounds absurd, but it is actually not far removed from the reality that millions of folks (present company included) currently experience; an unnatural connection to their smart phones, those wily, ubiquitous devices that have succeeded in winning us over one text at a time. You may laugh, but it’s true. One has only to look around to notice the aforesaid glued in our hands while our heads bend down to take in byte after byte of entertainment or distraction, such as the case may be.
Take the gym for example. I remember when people went to work out unhampered by the technology that now eats up all our attention. They were there, well, to work out. Nowadays when I scan the horizon, as far as my eye can see, I notice smart phones populating book holders on treadmills, stationary bikes and the like, while their respective owners exercise glued to the screens, taking in content with rapt attention and appearing more interested in virtual reality than in breaking a sweat. It’s sad to see people pause their routines just to take in something on their phones. I want to shake them and shout, “You’re here to work out, so work out!”
Or how about Bart (the Bay Area rapid transit system, for those of you unfamiliar), that grand repository of the human soup? Nowhere else can one gage so accurately the trends and zeitgeist currently inhabiting society than in those telling cars. In riding, I’ve witnessed the disturbing sight of practically every person poring over their phones in one way or another. Passengers stand up in the thick of commute time with practically no room to breath, heads down staring at the device in their hands, eerily silent and disturbingly still like so many penitent churchgoers. In all fairness, tuning out is allowed after a long day at work or life, but we’ve gotten way too comfortable at downright ignoring the action and potential danger around us in order to check a Facebook status, or scroll through our pictures.
We are in love with our phones. They have become our friends, our councilors and even our lovers (yes, there are even, ahem, attachments for them) We tote them with us everywhere we go. They live stuffed in our pockets, our bras, our hands and we seldom, if ever, leave home without them and this, usually, because we forget. In fact, how often do we find ourselves panicking because we’ve misplaced or God forbid, left them at the house? We are so taken and enraptured with these insidious, palm-sized devices, we’ve even let them cut into our conversations and sense of community. More times than I care to admit, I’ve offered my family and friends grunts and the occasional “Mm hmm” just to keep the chat up while I tended to something fantastically important on Insta or googled the weather and I know I’m not alone. And we don’t even question this phenomenon, it has simply become…a way of life.
Without getting too far into it, I believe the fascination with our phones points to something more sinister, something on more of a grand scale, that it’s not as innocent and harmless as what it appears to be. On the consumers part, there exists the honest to goodness fascination with and dependence upon our devices, the sincere desire to shop, view, pass the time, meet up (online dating) and whatever other use may pull our chain. One the other, it sure seems as though there is some twisted plot to get and keep us hooked to these little pieces of technology. Think about it. We have become so addicted that most of us don’t even question or challenge their preponderant spot in our lives anymore (we should set a place for them at the table!). I wonder, if there was a meltdown and we couldn’t use the web, what would we do? Panic comes to mind—precisely the reaction that who or whatever is gaging this grand experiment would prey upon.
I sincerely hope that as people, we would know when enough is enough of this invasive technological whatnot but given the current state of affairs, it looks like that’s not the case, officer. I don’t know what the future holds as far as the next big reveal but I do know who holds the future and thank God for that.