What is now hours upon hours spent flipping through the compartmentalized lives of hundreds of folks. Hunched over a pocket-sized glow. Whatever they choose to share. And whatever I choose to witness. Less than a moment spent on each. No longer knowing what it is that hope compels me to try and find. Looking for something. Finding nothing, as life goes walking by. Get likes. Give likes. An economy of attention, passively vicious in its theft of our humanity. Hoping to see something. Hoping to be seen.
And most will not spend more than a moment on this. If that. Tossed in the fray with all the rest. And on the surface, this is nowhere near as tantalizing as the competition. Chaos and cat videos. Kids fighting in school, people filming themselves in their cars, ranting about how they know how to fix everything. Real news. Fake news. Conspiracies. Scantily clad young women, filtered to hide blemishes and imperfections. Hate and false love.
Like I said, chaos.
Maybe a dozen of you might read this. Less, likely. And certainly, this shan’t go viral. It lives in the vague, grey land between adorable and grotesque. Ignored. With a marketing value that would be generously called minimal.
And what else would be expected?
Poems and micro-tales and ramblings pale in comparison to a squirrel on little water skis being pulled by a little boat.
But despite how it might seem from the opening, this shall not be a long-winded complaint. Nor a damnation of the world that lives around us. Because if you haven’t caught on yet, the complainers of the species are not the ones who bring about solutions. And they are not the ones that history recalls.
And besides, though used in such ways, our technological connectivity is not evil. It is only powerful. It is only us that creates the pettiness and darkness from it.
So, what can we do?
Well, as a man far from infallibility, I can only suggest. And it may be an easy fix, if participation is high. And this quickest way to start is the simplest.
Turn it off.
Just like that.
And as simple as that is, it can be damn near impossible. As the society in which we live, now operates on the trends of social media. From the school board to the White House. A lot now, from the White House.
I find myself in the trap far too often. Checking my phone and checking my phone and checking my phone. Some of the time, anticipating something particular but mostly, just in the spirit of mindless habit.
Yet the doom and gloom you oft hear prophesized is not as profound as might be thought. How can I say so? To start, I am a fool and fool’s hold hope. Because I believe that love can beat hate. Because an image of a beautiful woman is never as powerful as being in the presence in one. At least for me. For you cannot touch an image. You cannot taste or smell it. It does not feel, and therefore, you cannot feel it. And even an image likely only brings about a reminder of something that was once experienced. Memory influenced by it, not created from it.
Still, it is a battle and it not one that can ever be won alone. We need each other and we need the reality of each other, not the fabrication. Because you cannot love your phone, as it cannot love you.
And though you should refrain from being addicted, you should not damn it all either. You can conversate in some form or another, with anyone anywhere in the world. I know for myself, having stayed in contact with some that I have not seen in years. And you can share grand things with each other. Thoughts, photos and sounds, all in an instant. To be conjured when needed. As needed.
But my bias is clear. And my bitterness equally so. As I remain romantically isolated, I watch those around me swipe through face after face, with a small chance of giving a shot to meeting someone. It’s something I am incapable of being part of. And do not think that I did not try. A majority of my generation operates in such a way. But it is never fulfilling in the way of old. I cannot trust a doctored picture and an overthought explanation of personality.
Me, I need the physical. I need to hear a breath. A heartbeat. A pulse. I need the scents and sensations. I need tangibility, or nothing. And currently, nothing it is.
And I do not think I am alone in that. It is one of those things that is so quintessentially human. To feel the touch. To share a breath. To laugh with, instead of at. A smile spurred by a look.
We are not digital beings. We are physical. We exist in the world of three dimensions, sailing through time. And that’s something we should never lose, if it can be helped.
I’ll do my part. I hope you can do yours.