LOOK AT ME! Smart phone stoners & the pitch to save them
I really want to get one of those new smart phones. They’re so cool – all tiny, shiny and spankingly hip – you just know you’ve been left behind culturally if you haven’t yet joined in the fun. And really, what could be wrong about being able to get email on the run, text easily with the family and friends or finally being able to buy movie tickets on the way to the theater? It’s all good. And don’t forget that smart phone ownership also means no more looking stupid when someone uses a word or makes an allusion you don’t understand: Google it on the spot and let Wikipedia save you from your own intellectual shortcomings by guiding you through a Dennis Miller riff that would otherwise leave you ignorant and confused. Plus, don’t get me started on all that previously wasted time now made useful – line-ups at the store, jam-ups in traffic, or even just the all-too-familiar parental idle seen on the soccer/hockey/jai alai practice pitch – all made mercifully productive in a way only the moddest of techs could plausibly allow.
And yet still I hedge. I just can’t do it. I won’t do it, out of fear, I fear. A fear that I too will turn irrevocably inward only to become yet another smart-phoned stoner, eternally mesmerized by the glowing plastic in the palm of my hand. It’s bad enough out there already thanks to hands-free cell phones and those annoying headsets. That we have enabled millions of shamelessly self-important Chatty Cathy’s to stride down the street sharing what should be private conversations with everyone else is a literal crime against humanity. And yet, this new societal infraction is somehow worse, as fleshy heads that once faced the future instead bow continually, not in deference or respect, but in total submission to an electronic master that more than likely contains their eternal soul.
That might sound a tad alarmist at first but after watching a new ad on TV it’s been confirmed as such to me. The spot, entitled “Really” begins with the most common of images: a man holding his coffee as he scans through his smart phone. It goes to a woman, deep in text, as stunningly beautiful floating lanterns illuminate the night sky – while their dazzling wonder goes completely unnoticed by her. People on streets, on bikes, on beaches – all consumed by the tech in their hand. It gets worse. Someone showering. Someone jogging. Someone giving a massage . The massaged looks up in dumbfounded awe and asks: “Really?” Then we speed up and the stupidity intensifies. Coffee drips unattended, seesaws suspend in mid-air, sex-available wives stand untouched, concerts, roller coasters and even sharks - all ignored in favor of the gleaming handheld that supposedly offers more, culminating in the most ewww inducing moment of the entire piece when buddy drops, and retrieves, his handset from the urinal. “Really?” The spot then up-shifts to a fever pitch as a multitude of horrors are unleashed – inadvertent crashing, sitting, falling – and then worse - Brides walk the aisle, surgeons in surgery, dad’s playing catch – all distracted until the ignored seem to shout as one: Really?! Really?! And dad – dear old put-upon dad - gets absolutely brained by his angry son. The solution to the madness? Oh puddles. Not another phone?
Apparently Microsoft is going to save us from said inattention disorder with a new Windows phone they claim is designed to get folks in and out fast, and back to life. We’ll see I’m sure. But forgive me if I remain slightly skeptical of the promise being made. Maybe it’ll work, maybe not – but for my money it was the ad itself that actually possessed the real truth in all of this. Fact: we are missing out on life because we are not engaged in it as it happens. We need to stop planning for later or rehashing what already happened and start living life like living actually mattered, ‘cause y’know - it does.
Everybody recalls the supposedly numerous, and clearly unsophisticated tribes of natives and whatnot of long ago that supposedly feared getting their pictures taking due to a belief that so doing would literally rob them of their souls. Taken today, instead of being wrong or ignorant maybe they were just a little ahead of their time. It wasn’t the cameras they should have been worried about - it was these damn smart phones. So, all things considered, I think I’ll be waiting a wee bit longer before I finally pop on one. Really.