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App’d Till You Snap?

Me, Myself, and i(Phone)

“Don’t you dare talk back to me like that!
“When I tell you no more calls, I mean it!”
“Dammit – you misspelled my whole message!”
“Shhh – not now, I’m sleeping!”

All of the above have I uttered … to my mobile device.

Worse still, sometimes in public.

God forbid they hall me off for losing a grip, lol. But then perhaps we’re all a little lost increasingly. Maybe we’ll wind up so far astray that only Google Maps or a GPS can find us. Is this what Humanity will wind up becoming – a tightly wound iBeing with its iPhone, trying to both tune in yet tune out? 

Sometimes my phone can be a little smart-ass, but I love it like my (inner) child.

So let’s get metaphysical and talk tech; as in between the lines … as in that “still life” which rests in our purses, pockets, or palms like a perfectly behaved inanimate object. Maybe the phone is turned off. But we’re still turned on, relentlessly thinking about it, fixing it, protecting it, being aggravated by it … and even putting it to beddy-bye like an actual infant. 

Maybe you have kids. Maybe you’re childless. But with or without, one thing is sure: we are all breathing the same toxic air filled with waves of bandwidth that run invisibly through our vains (no, I did not misspell the word “veins” – because we are increasingly ruled by vanity toys that tell us how wonderfully connected or not we are / aren’t / should be). What occurs between the touch pads of the world and our fingers is a mystifying, intimate, and singularly unique relationship that carries the power of even presidents to cross its threshold of sanity at times.  

And what does all this have to do with me, and parental skills? Plenty. I may have no  actual, visible children but I am still responsible for the child within me and how “we” engage with others and Self … how “we” interact with Technology – especially given its ease, its seductive distractions, and its demands on our time and curiosity. Disciplinary skills are more challenged and needed than ever.

These gadgets are powerfully wired but not necessarily inspired when you consider how they can leave our psyche tired (and wired). 

Behind our backs with our mobile device windows black, Tech is still and ever trying to get our attention … to teach us … to woo us … or wow us by nearly overpowering our manmade intelligence with its uncanny ability to anticipate our needs – exaggerating them or offering them up like a smorgasbord of info and apps we never knew we needed. Our phones are mystical creations born of our ingenuity, and now performing like hand-held Rorschach tests about how we’ll choose to interact with others … and Self.

My phone is a little mischief maker in the hands of an adorable other one (my inner kid). And when the twain did meet I wound up taking a back seat. I love my gadget. I love my inner kid. But house rules now prevail when I’m (consciously) around. I may house the outer one in expensive leatherette accessories and clean it regularly until its facade is spotless-shiny.  And as I care for the outer one I’m mindful of caring for the inner one and their impact on me when they interact – sometimes demanding my attention at all hours in all manners; with a beep, a flashing light, a buzz or vibration. A million ways does gadget try to raise my intelligence while also raising my anxiety levels about how to maintain control.

At first my phone was like a newborn; a beautifully looking wee one which required constant attention as my learning curve to understand its complexity and enormity devoured me. When the lustre wore off and reality sunk in (that it was not alive, even though it was very much activated, lol), my phone entered the “terrible twos”. It became brazen, with 10,000 insistent things to inform me about – most of which weren’t important but which I had to first decipher and then veto accordingly. Soon thereafter I traded it in for a new one, hoping to simplify its care by upgrading its quality. 

I might just as well have hired a babysitter for my phone. A phone sitter.

I’m now on my 7th child – whoops phone – having had one too many embarrassing outbursts in public and deciding to become more protective of me than it. This led to a private pow-wow in which “we” reinvented a healthier relationship by discussing the terms of use; like when and how much to respond to calls and chats … and at what price forsaking quiet time with Self was being undermined.  

Having now reached an understanding I’ve regained the wheel, steering my sanity back on track by appropriating specific “off duty” hours when each of us rests. Phone recharges, and so do I. I work on a global television event  that relies on media and the use of tech to connect us all. So I can’t live in an isolation tank or antiquity and refuse Technology. 

But I can retain the rights to my life instead of giving it away to the little ringer.

The other day I got into a dispute with a friend I was meeting for a quick cafe, before she caught a flight. I hadn’t seen her in ages and we were both excited. When she arrived I was ready for a bear hug but she was hellbent on sending me the photo she’d just taken of herself in front of a statue we were sure to pass later on. I told her to forget the photoshoot for now. Here we are, live-and-in-person. Nothin’ doin’. Her fingers pounded on that touchpad, intent on sending me the photo even if it meant risking our lifelong friendship and missing her flight. 

The phone is a thing – a thing of beauty – invented by living beings who gave further life to Life by connecting humans to humans … and yet ironically disconnecting them from their human nature. The phone can wait. For you.

Let’s put the human back in Humanity.

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