Or maybe I am one of the above. Or both.
Apple always told us that life was easier with an iPhone…
…and it’s not that far off from the truth.
Indeed, life is easier when instead of having to acknowledge people on the streets or in the stores, all it takes is good acting and luck.
Oh, is that a new text message?
No, but who will know?
Better go check it and avoid eye contact with that seventh grade teacher who may or may not remember you.
So you pull out your phone and stare at your home screen for a while, swiping back and forth between your pages.
Perhaps I should change my wallpaper…
But that’s only if luck is on your side and you remembered to bring your phone, or else your only other two solutions are to hide in an aisle or risk being recognized, or worse, spoken to.
That’s where your troubles begin. What would you and that seventh grade teacher, much less a stranger, talk about? The weather? Why, you could just check that on The Weather Channel app, and no one really cares about whether the weather is nice or not. Your lives since you last saw each other? Their family? No…that could lead to an excessive amount of face-to-face conversation and awkward silences. Other things that normal people talk about? Do I have to “speak human?”
No, it’s best to employ the invisibilities powers your phone gives you. (If you can’t see them, they can’t see you either, right?) Then, you can continue living behind the walls of technology and maintaining an indifferent yet haughty facade that masks your deliberate attempts at avoiding your fellow human beings.
Plus, expressing your deepest feelings has become so much simpler: all it takes is a semi-colon and the right side of a parenthesis. We’ve come a long way, I’d say, from Hawthorne-style sentences that spend a chapter describing a tree; download a few hundred stickers and emoticons, and you’ve got every emotion and feeling Hawthorne tried to describe on your keyboard.
Progress, we call it. Progress—an advancement toward a higher stage, in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level. But what’s really more superior? The ability to aimlessly tap at a black screen to avoid making eye contact with people, or the ability to laugh and talk your way out of an awkward situation? The ability to remain faceless behind a machine or the ability to show your face?
I admit, I’m guilty of all of the above. And it didn’t even register how often I used my own phone for all the wrong reasons–until the day that I accidentally left my own phone on my counter. But you realize that there’s something quite pathetic when you walk for two miles on the streets and no one sees you because they’re looking down. Or, they see you but pretend that there’s more importance in checking for text messages and Instagram notifications than saying “Hi.”
What does the “increased communications” that technology always brags about even mean when the closest people around you don’t acknowledge you? Sure, we’ve sent more text messages last year than ever before, but perhaps we could trade just a few of those messages for actual human interaction. You know, just to reaffirm that I’m not actually invisible (or too short for people to see) and that we’re still humans, because even Siri can send text messages and emails.
Yes, Apple’s iPhone certainly is not lying when it tells us that it’ll do everything to make our lives easier…
…that is, a life of social isolation.
Oh, and it’s also pretty good at making phone calls. If you’re into that kind of thing, though, because who ever uses their phone to make phone calls?
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of technology & social media — I’m using it a little bit too much, but I think it’s done wonders (except maybe for the claim that the Twitter platform may or may not have helped Trump win the election). Still, maybe let’s just put down our phones for a second to remember what it’s like to be human again.
*Original post published by yours truly back when she was a lil’ baby for the high school newspaper.