Monday, June 13, 2011

Smartphones: Do They Make the World a Dumber Place?

Let me lead off with an example. Recently I paid an exorbitant amount of money to go to OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Stuff and Madness. Therein I discovered many children. They were all running amok, as children are wont to do. Temper this post with the realization that I was in another one of my mooditudes; in other words not feeling gregarious in any way. But I noticed, while standing amongst the chidingly patronizing exhibits on evolution and how it’s a fact (actually—not so; it’s never ever been proven but you wouldn’t know that to talk to some of these sheeple), that the children were running amok because the parents were…how do I say this…the parents were mobbing around the space with their faces glued to their smartphones. Like, OMG, you guys look really dumb. And your children—do you even care? Cuz I can’t tell. At all. It reminded me of those teenagers who think strapping a used coffee can to the exhaust of their front wheel drive hatchback makes it faster, or somehow better or cooler. Nope. It makes you look like an idiot, my friend.

Now, before this turns into a rant, let me explain myself. I have an iPhone. I do. But I exercise a great many opportunities to walk away from it. I don’t like to be mastered by things. I like my liberties. I fight for them. And I have to ask the question, “before you got your smartphone, how, oh how did you ever manage?” Well? Do you really need to be glued to Facebook all day? Really. How about that stock ticker: you need that? Oh, okay. Can I interest you in this brochure published by Gamblers Anonymous? And how in God’s name did any of us ever make it through the day without playing Fruit Ninja for five hours? Man. Those were tough times a couple of years ago. I can remember way back when cellphone displays were monochromatic. That was like dining on cat exhaust.

Look, people. I love technology. I use it. I just don’t like it when it uses me. And I really don’t like it when it uses people around me, because that affects my environment. Honestly, I can equate the fervor over the constant stream of media that floods us daily, hourly, to a giant cow. Except this one is constantly growing teats. There’s more than enough for anyone who wants to shove their way in there and suckle. The only fights that ever break out are when 2G teats are replaced by 3G teats and 3GS teats, and the occasional teat-contract-early-termination dispute. You can imagine some of the conversations had around the milk bag:

“I don’t like my teat anymore; it’s too slow.”
“Yeah dude, I just upgraded to a 4G teat that makes yours look like a friggin cottage cheese factory.”
“Are you saying my teat is so slow that it curdles?”
“Curdles, bro. Before you can even enjoy it.”
“I know, right?!

That’s messed up. But it’s to illustrate a point. We look like, well, cattle as we drone around our world, held in a headlock by our 3.5 inch diagonal screens. Pull your head out, America. Get off the teat. And wipe that smartphone crust off your face; it’s really gross.

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