Jerry Della Femina
WE ARE ALL SLAVES TO A 2X4-INCH GOD
Sometimes our dependence on cell phones can be amusing.
The story I’m about to tell you is completely true.
Someone I know and love, who shall go nameless, told me about what could have been a disastrous email that would have blown out the phones at #MeToo headquarters and had the more militant members of the group racing to my friend’s place of business carrying torches and chanting death threats.
My friend said, “I’m innocent. I blame it all on my fat fingers.
“I can’t type on an iPhone because of my fat fingers, so I decided to dictate my emails into my iPhone to Siri, or whatever the hell her name is, and this worked fine until the other day.
“I dictated an email to a woman in my office who was unhappy with the direction our company was taking on a project she was involved in.
“So, to show my support, I backed her up by dictating this line into the phone:
“‘When they see your version I’m sure they will agree with you.’
“But Siri or the iPhone didn’t hear exactly what I said and it typed out: ‘When they see your vagina I’m sure they will agree with you.’”
My friend erased the message with trembling hands and said a prayer to the gods of email.
That’s a true and funny story about cell phones and their impact on our lives, but I’m more concerned about how cell phones are changing each and every one of us – not necessarily for the better.
You see them when you’re crossing a street: cell phone zombies who would rather get run over and killed than take their eyes off the screen of their cell phones.
You see it in restaurants. A husband and wife looking at their cell phones and ignoring each other. Their children, some as young as 5 or 6, staring at a cell phone or a computer game tablet with dead eyes.
It’s the children’s dead eyes that get to me. Their parents are beyond hope but the kids … the kids … what are we doing to our future?
Who’s to blame?
You … me … everyone.
I bet as you’re reading this you’re holding your iPhone in one hand.
You’re connected. We all want to be connected. The thought of being alone, even for a second, now causes panic.
What was it like before every man, woman and child had a cell phone?
I guess we read books. Watched television. Met with friends. Stared at the ceiling late at night and were at peace with ourselves.
Now we own cell phones and cell phones own us, and we can never go back again.
Are we going mad?
Has the cell phone stripped us of common courtesy?
Is it my age or have you noticed that people have stopped saying “Sorry” or “Thank you” or “Pardon me”?
When did we start acting like zombies, staring at our phones as though the rest of the world has disappeared and our cell phone is our only lifeline to the world?
As you’re reading this, millions of photos are being posted and messages are being sent discussing Donald Trump’s latest idiotic tweet.
And as you’re reading this, another million pictures of plates of kale and other foods are being exchanged on Instagram throughout the world.
Were young people able to eat before they took pictures of their food?
Posting pictures of food is their way of telling their friends, “Look, I’m alive, I’m in a restaurant and this is what my life is all about right this second.”
We all want to be connected every minute of every day.
In my last office building, sitting behind the desk in the lobby, was a man whose job I believe was to protect all the people in the building.
I used to call him “The Laughing Man.” He sat there on the phone all day, laughing uproariously. He never stopped laughing. Was someone telling him jokes? Did he ever get bad news? It was creepy to pass by him. What if there was a fire in the building? Would he just sit there and laugh as the firefighters removed him? Had his cell phone driven him crazy?
What was his life like before we had cell phones?
Were we that lonely? How did we walk the streets alone without holding a tiny instrument that is a connection to everyone we know?
What’s going to happen to us?
Can you live without social media? I doubt if I can.
I’m a slave to Facebook. I'm as guilty as you are. I’m on it every day. Some people I know are never off it. It’s like a phone party line that millions of people are listening in on every day as they keep up with their friends and have their friends keep up with the antics of their dogs, cats and children.
There are no secrets.
There is no privacy.
I go on Facebook and I’m brought up to date on other people’s visits to doctors, their cousin’s bone marrow transplant and often, just seconds after someone’s loved one has died, they dry their tears and post the news on Facebook.
This causes a problem that I hope some reader might help me with.
When I read someone’s sad message on Facebook that says:
“My mother died just 3 minutes ago and we were all here for her final moments etc. etc. etc.”
How do I acknowledge this? Do I press “Like,” as some other people do on occasion, and does this mean we “like” that this person’s mother has died? If I don’t know the person and their mother, should I comment? They were kind enough to inform me and the billion other Facebook members of the death – would it be cruel to ignore them in this time of need?
Those of you with an answer to these questions can, of course, contact me on Facebook or at email@example.com