The Telephone to “My Phone”

I am at Dr. Chung’s orthodontist at 1005 Clifton Ave, in New Jersey sitting on a sectional with a snotty 14 year old, about to have her Invisalign checked. She’s twiddling her thumbs across her iphone, gen z style as naturally as a cave man hunts. There is no such thing as the world around her. Her world lies behind a 3 x 6″ pane of glass. We’ve lived in the same house together for the last 8 months but we do not speak.  We are strangers. I do not compare to her insta followers, memes, gifs: I will never be one of them. No matter how hard I try. Though I am sitting next to her, she shares the most intimate relationship with the content behind the wall of glass.

The world at our fingertips is our world. It is what we click, what we write, what we follow, what we laugh to. It is the ultimate world because there is a unique one just for each of us. Therefore, of course it takes precedence over the real world. The real world is shared. Communal. We don’t make decisions about how it acts. We vote in government elections, but we are just one vote out of millions. As sharing becomes less like caring, the communal world slowly begins to suck in comparison with the fingertip world. The expression, “The world is at your fingertips” has become a fact: The world IS at our fingertips. But is it our world or my individual, self-curated one? More likely, it’s the latter. The real world, in fact, is further from our fingertips than it ever has been.

The more clicks and scrolls we hit on our screens, the less we know how to talk to our neighbor, how to enjoy silence, how to work and love without distraction. Distraction used to be Satan’s little helper. Instead, the big four (Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google) profit off our ability to become distracted. We think we can create our own world through our devices, a world that represents our interest, values, friends, and jokes. Instead the big four make it seem that we have control when they are in fact subtly but surely enhancing our ability to get distracted. As an ADD and ADHD diagnosed human, I perhaps am more observant than others about this phenomenon as I almost feel a magnetic pull to my phone constantly. Like all great technology, back in the day, phones were public devices. One phone belonged to a town. It was the town’s phone.

As a guilty but proud fan of the Hallmark Channel’s show, “When Calls The Heart” that takes place in the early 1900’s, I notice their technological transition as their prolific town, “Hope Valley” recently acquired two telephones: One in the general store and another in the sheriff’s office. Some of the town members are initially terrified of the strange device and would prefer to stick with telegrams. Others think it is an exiting new addition to the town. The telephone virgins hold up the device as if it’s a tumorous arachnid, a foreign entity, an unfamiliar being. Some think they need to scream into it, others whisper. Eventually most of the town agrees that the device is an enhancement to the community. Though this show is beyond the definition of cheesy (I mean really really beyond), it serves a point.

Watching the community’s discomfort with a new device makes me grin. I can only think of hunched over millennials (I am a millenial and am not trying to discriminate), glued to their devices, moving their fingers across the screen like a brilliant pianist, flicking, swishing, scrolling, and clicking.

The telephone became the phone. The phone became my phone. The words change as the technology spreads. Our posture caves in, accommodating to the glass beings we hold.  Dialect, business, social etiquette, thinking evolves: Everything essentially changes. What I’m trying to do is give you, the reader a glimpse at my thoughts as you begin reading my journal. I will essentially be writing everything and anything that interests me. Hope you will take a chance, read this post, and think things over. In a world where companies have direct access to our unique worlds we create, thought cannot be underestimated.  

#writing #ethicsoftech #phoneaddiction #genz #existential #wcth

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