I am stuck in a conundrum. However much I adore texting, I am equally perturbed by iphone/smart phone abuse. Yes I have a crappy Blackberry. But rarely will you see me in a group of friends searching for BB apps and cruising facebook (updating facebook is another story- but mobile uploads take 30 seconds tops).
I hope that the iphone Nation is a period of adjustment, like when a new drug floods the street. Everyone overdoes it, abusing the drug, overdosing and eventually readjusting their daily intake until to functional levels. We could be in that initial phase of uninhibited consumption, where mobile google is to 20 somethings as Adderall is to 5 year old boys and desperate housewives.
While watching tv for the first time in months, I witnessed an alarming commercial that didn’t seem to phase my friends. A man is bragging about the new and improved “everywhere” wireless service on his netbook or Droid or whatever (irrelevant). A series of appealing scenarios unfold to convince that this new technology will improve your quality of life. Said man is shown in a campsite surrounded by woods, nature, and friends. As five or six buddies sit around a campfire, what activity dominates their interaction- smores? Whiskey? Tales of their daily hunt while roasting fresh halibut? No. The men sit in silence, heads bowed, shoulders tense, completely engaged in their smart phones. They are oblivious of their temporary liberation from the cubicle and from the city, but by god they are connected to the global nervous system.
Next scene: Same man (now alone) boasts his newly possible dining options via breakthrough mobile technology. Sitting in a restaurant with white tablecloths and smiling waiters, he is served a generous plate of gourmet cuisine. He grins with pleasure and, head bowed, attends to online business through his handheld device. Assumably, he ditched his dinner date so as not to offend him/her by his excessive phone addiction. Man’s best friend has been replaced by a needy, high maintenance, loud, cold piece of technology with a 2 year shelf life. Looks like Nano Babies were training us for this colossal transition back in 1998 through some twisted orientation of small, mobile, computer beepy “toys” with fuzzy, cute, lovable life companions THAT LOVE BACK.
A friend back home recently went through a dramatic breakup. His texting, calling, and facebook messaging for consolation was tiring, but we indulged him (being the good friends we are). When he flew up to The City for a mini weekend vacay, us friends were eager for a lil heart to heart time (or enough whiskey to make him shut up and have some fun). Five of us old buds set out to cook a nice dinner at home, drinks flowing and burners burnin. We started telling stories and laughing it up when we noticed that Mr. Weekend Visitor was nowhere to be found. When we finally discovered him on the patio (smoking and texting) we dragged him back to the couch. The gravity field of his iphone was so strong that food, drink and friends could not compete: his head immediately bowed in submission to the iphone apps awaiting discovery at his fingertips. We teased the disengaged buddy, but he didn’t even hear.
By the end of the night, two more of the dinner party got sucked into Visitor’s trap. The three sat together on the couch, heads to their screens, mumbling once in awhile about the new apps they were stumbling upon. I was left alone with the only remaining non-iphone owner in the room, laughing and chatting and enjoying the beer induced break from real life. We dubbed ourselves FAT: Friends Against Technology. The truth is we love technology- this particular friend and I spend the majority of our waking lives on a MacBook Pro. But in that exact moment, we were indeed FAT.
The three amigos simultaneously downloaded “Bump,” an app where trading contact info is easy as touching two iphones together. Boom! Wazaam! This is a physics-defying transfer of information that could change the future (for good or for evil, impressive and scurrry). ANYWAYS us FAT kids looked on in horror/amazement as the iphoners raised their devices in a toast of informational exchange. An innocent and fun gesture, right? But in a flash of premonition, I saw the Bump taking the place of traditional Cheers. I foresaw old friends passing each other in the street and throwing up a Bump in the place of warm hugs. Visions of suited businessmen exchanging Bumps instead of handshakes. Horrors of Spanish friends giving “dos Bumps” where there was once “dos besos.” Bump is the new 21st Century hug, just as those cuddly little Nano Babies forewarned.
Conundrum. I heart texting, facebook, mobile uploads, twitter, blogging, and my dear external hard drive always within reach (mobile google). Am I afraid of the iphone Nation? Not really. Do I poke fun by constantly taking pics of group texting sessions (with my camera phone)? Yes. But please, for the love of god, take a moment to think about the electronic leash and to consider the ideals of FAT. And don’t forget to text me later about dinner.