See, my phone died. Likely part of the whole scheme. Planned obsolescence and such. I’ve had the thing for three years. No updates. Memory space was running out. It was a recipe for self-destruction. Designed lovely to coincide with the new release of the pointlessly updated new version, made by nimble little fingers somewhere in a sweat shop in Asia.
So, I’ve been without. Because the truth is, it is not needed. Not having my own personal computer/telephone in my pocket all the time does not change that everyone else around me does. I still can communicate. I can borrow a phone. Or I just have to sit down at my desk, which thus far has proven to be much more intimate.
Perhaps, I’ll even write a letter later. I think, I will.
But while all that is fine and dandy for the temporary, I do face a decision that to most seems paramount to life function. My grandfather would have called us all soft, or stupid or something of the sort for such behavior. He would, of course, be right. But he died before the world became endless scrolling through endless posting that no one really gives a damn about. He always had to look someone in the eyes to speak to them. Especially if you had something that they might not like to hear. And he only ever ‘looked things up’ in books.
And though we do behave as though we were junkies, I am not sure if it is the device to be blamed. Speaking for myself, I know it is my own bad habit forming that leads to the issue. The phone is just a thing. Even now, it sits next to me on my desk, as I write. Dead as a doornail. Though even saying ‘dead’ personifies it to a point of somehow shifting responsibility towards it. Thinking that it died on me. That it left me.
I knew the product would do this. I knew when it did, I would be facing a choice. And that choice rides upon the habits I want to sculpt regarding mental health going forward.
I know, it seems silly. But I invite you to look upon yourself. If you’re reading this right now, I’d bet it’s on your phone. I can guarantee that you are not holding paper printed word. Though it is one of those lofty dreams I have. To write something to be published. Something tangible.
Yet here I go on about these devices, and yet what I am doing currently depends of such methods. Though, if you’re reading this, you may not struggle with the tech addiction of others. This isn’t a video of puppies or police activity. The type is not fancy, or eye catching, or featuring a sing-along. It is just the ramble of someone whom you may or may not know, drumming up words about whatever happened to be on his mind.
If you are on one of those portable computer-phones, I invite you to reflect. What is it that we are all always looking for within these screens? Because many of us spend all day looking. Scrolling through the portrayal of social life by friends and acquaintances. Liking. Commenting. Or choosing some sort of unrecognized appreciation or admiration. Even dating goes through such means. Cold and calculated. Swiping through people’s five photo and paragraph representation of their self within seconds. Dozens, tossed away without having the slightest clue what any of them may truly be like. And though my attempt within that field was short lived and fruitless, I can say by the words of those who have used longer, the results are often disappointing. If it is romance you’re looking for. It evidently can work well for vague coitus. Or so I’ve been told.
And I can only wonder whether we are missing out on our own lives this way.
There is a vague nagging at my soul as I worry whether I have missed an opportunity in the time I have been without my precious cell phone. That someone attempted contact that I have now missed. Something that would have been profound and life changing, now gone because I was without the glow in my pocket. That I could be missing something in life because my communication is limited.
But that is dwarfed by the urge to look up and around. There is all of this world, for all its grandness and madness, happening relentlessly around. Even those who are bent over their screens are still happening. Whether they realize it or not. And the impact could be massive. A marriage falling apart because of intimacy reduction managed someway through something on the internet. To the kid dead in the street because a driver had to send a meme.
Call it value disorder. Call it whatever you’d like. It is.
For it is not the phone, or the cloud, or social media that make my memories. If anything, they distort and twist emotions in an oversaturating method. It is the people. The flesh and guts. It is the sunlight going in a certain way, with a certain sound or silence. A moment caught is not fabricated to you. It is there and you just so happen to have the perspective and attention to notice it. And then it goes. And when it does, it is gone.
But those profound moments are real. I’ve had them. I have them still. And I may have few left in me yet.
It is when you witness another human for the first time and wonder whether this person will mean anything from here on out. Then watching as what unfolds does, and suddenly the wonder becomes tangible. The stranger is now someone you know. And then you wonder where it is this may go. And suddenly it rises in importance and thought consumption and what was life before all of this?
And where we are robbed the most by all this world wide memory sharing, is when those moments go. That the past is the past and the present is without that which we try and reflect upon. And the wonder whether it shall be again get bastardized by looking back upon typed words or clicking through thousands of images until you mix this madness with the genuine recollection of a moment.
Apply it anywhere. Friendship. Family relations. Schooling. Romance, if you’re a junkie like me.
I got into an argument once. Well, I’ve been in thousands of those, but this is a specific instance which applies.
The end of my formal schooling, or towards it. About to be college graduates, set to change the world from hence forth. Or so they sold us in the program.
In a class headed by the most profound of the many profound teachers I have had. It was mad and free-form and I have been told that teacher no longer teaches at that institution. Further proof of his brilliance, in my opinion. They always get rid of the great ones.
And in all this madness, my young man’s rage was incited by the discussion of whether you could love your phone. Some dipshit in the class had said they loved their phone. The professor, Dave, in what I imagine was a ploy to get a rise out of my vocal cords, asks if he meant to say that word. To use the word love for a cell phone.
He insisted that he intended such. As he could, and did love his phone.
A tirade that turned most of the class seemingly against me, and set silence in all the rest, went on for a good long while, stirred to glorious mass by the devil’s advocacy of Professor Dave.
I insisted that love is such a vastly complex emotion that it could not possibly be held towards such an object, and certainly never with it. It wasn’t even really tangible to claim actual love with a pet, I claimed. People date each other who are not truly in love, and yet you say you can love a cell phone? You cheat the word and insult all types of passion, sir. You cannot love a phone, and it cannot love you.
Or something like that.
I recall that day because I was looking out the window before it all happened. Wondering where it was my life was to go. I had no plan, other than unspecific glory. I had no job lined up. Nowhere to go but back home with a degree that wouldn’t matter all that much. Lying bastards.
It was spring, which shall always remind me of love, romantic or otherwise. A high time for biophilia. It was the mid-afternoon, the best time for daydreaming. I had a few chapters of a novel done, a short but strong collegiate theater career under my belt and the attention of a beautiful young woman.
Yet I ached, I remember. I felt a sigh coming and instead I rambled on about phones, to a room full of people, half of them looking at their phones.
What did it prove? Other than a test of my loudness and Professor Dave’s understanding for both who I was at the time and who it is that I may be on my way to becoming, I cannot say for sure.
Everyone who was in that room still uses a phone, I’d reckon. Myself included. And I am no innocent party in the abuse of such technologies. If I do get myself another phone with such capabilities, will I just go back to the destructive ways? It seems silly to even think about, yet it is anything but.
I will just have to find out.
But I will write a letter today. Because I do not know when the next chance for something like that will be. If ever. Never again, quite like this.