Inspection- Sucked into Cellphone City

Courtesy ladbible.com

No matter what social chaos you rail against you can guarantee it was organized via fancy phones. Most accidents these days? I’d bet enabled by fancy phones. Scams, cons, misinformation, tolls, pushing out right dangerous lies? You know what I’m about to type, right?
 Caveat: this is also about something I learned about myself long ago. If some device can screw up it will for me almost before anyone else.

By Ken Carman

 We finally broke down and bought one of “dem der” smart phones, or whatever you want to call them. No matter what the label, we have begin to wonder if they might be possessed by demons. Wonder if they may be one of the many things that contribute to humanity’s eventual extinction.
 More on that in a moment.
Inspection Of course, like most new-ish tech we were immediately punished for buying it. Got so bad Millie wanted to throw it into Bald Mountain Pond while I TRIED to take pictures with it, just down the road from our Eagle Bay home. Me? I wanted to smash it into little pieces.
 How male of me, eh?
 After a visit with friend who recently moved a few miles away we thought we understood. She showed us how easy it was. Well, except maybe for old fogies? Or two old fogies when one’s name is “Ken?”
 This 51A Galaxy has had more than a few ‘quirks.’ Like some possessed Twilight Zone doll, we wouldn’t have been surprised if the voice prompt had laughed and said, “I’ll teach you for buying me!”
 Newfangled cell phone hell hit long before the attempt to take a picture of highly reflective Bald Mountain Pond. An icon promised to connect me to my Facebook feed. Download, download, download… no. Download, download, download… no. Download, download… oh, look what it did. It didn’t connect to my Facebook. It created a whole new page! Now I have 2. I could delete it, but I’d rather merge them. I have found Facebook help options less responsive than, well, a Galaxy 51A. Again, delete it? No, I really want some FB connection when on the road.
 Hey, they can contact ME. As an added plus I might have some extra joy throwing everything Facebook related into the same pond.
 Curious… do you know any Facebook employees? Not threatening anyone, I’ve just never met one, heard from one, except the founder: and that was on TV, in interviews. Hey, Mr. Zuck, curious minds need to know. Are there real people running this, or is your creation actually run by sentinels, harvesters, bugs and agents who only live in the Facebook-ian matrix?
 Actually the Facebook glitch was a very minor one compared to what that seminal seed grew into. Demon-like, the phone became possessed, mocked us, heckled us. It decided to go on its own to go into voice prompt mode…

 ”Swipe!” (Didn’t work anymore.)
 ”Double swipe! (Worked then stopped working.)
 ”Double press!” (Didn’t work.)
 ”Double press and long press.” (What the hell does that mean? Both of us tried variations on that. Nope.)

 The voice continued to bark out commands: even just sitting there with no one near it. Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night: even the collie is asleep at the foot of the bed, and in the kitchen a disembodied voice keeps demanding you do something that won’t work anyway? I swear when Payson the collie came out with me to see what the racket was he ran back into the bedroom and nosed the door shut.
 We tried to turn it off but it eventually refused. At first hold one button a long time seemed to work. Then it would just come back on with that annoying voice mocking us. Then the voice demanded two buttons pressed at the same time. Work, then not work. Then an off symbol appeared… and would disappear before you could press it. Holding them at the same time and twisting so a third finger might reach it eventually didn’t work.
 All this time the voice mocked us and even made that 1980’s Max Headroom sound quickly cutting off the same word over and over. We gave up..
 About a day or two later, for no reason… reset! Now we treat it like one might not want to tickle a mad bear with a feather.
 What has this got to do with anything political or social? A LOT.
 If you remember reading Orwell’s 1984 I think these phones tend to control us WAY too much. I think they may evolve into wall TV screens, and screens everywhere we go, demanding attention. Maybe eventually implanted into our brain stems. They’ll get better and better at distracting us we walk across roads, as a car stops suddenly in front of us. Luckily cars now stop automatically. Wonder if they’ll find some way to distract them too? And, perhaps more important, distract us from the people we should be talking to in person, instead of staring at some screen fingers poised to tap out some short text.
 Emojis are no substitute for “I care,” “I love you,” hugs, kisses and patiently listening, or even patiently reading yet another… YAWN… column by yours truly.
 Like so much tech meant to connect us to people it also disconnects us from them, depersonalizes them, keeps us further away from them, makes it easier to be rude to them.
 They offer a tether tying us to social platforms that thrive on ever increasingly levels of uncivil discourse. That same tether ties us to horrible, dangerous misinformation, trolls, things people would never say if we were face to face, and the kind of sickness that makes people smear feces in a building, shoot up an elementary, burn cars in “protest,” bring a high powered weapon to a situation that needs no new reason for there to be carnage, beat police, break windows at a business.
 Hey, you CAN can use them to call. I just hope the sound quality on others isn’t as bad as my Galaxy. The old flip has better quality.
 Meanwhile I swear future (Mostly female like the Galaxy?) voices might tell us how to walk, talk and think.
 …and that Big Mother loves us.
 OK, OK, I admit some of this is hyperbole but, in fact, these fancy phones DO tie us directly to the places where bullies, snark, nastiness, meanness, thrive. That’s what social media is REALLY good at.
 Once upon a time, like many old guys and gals, I wondered what was wrong with some younguns: like the mother so sucked into her fancy phone her preschooler ran out in front of my car in a parking lot. They were on their way to the gym. Then, oblivious, she also walked out in front of a scared me; just sitting in my Sequoia that had come to a sudden stop via a very firm foot on the brake pedal. I don’t think she ever knew what almost happened; sucked into her fancy phone.
 But then I asked myself: was it her, was it any generation? Or is it these fancy phones? How unconnected society is increasingly becoming; chained to a form of fast paced, simplistic, communication? Maybe it’s not a generation, it’s these phones, the texting, the Twitter that enables too many twits. How they provide quick access as we walk, as we drive, as we eat Thanksgiving dinner with an increasingly silent family. How easily it distracts us with social sites, abbreviated “communication” platforms and tech created with little concern for how disconnected we are becoming to real life, real people sitting right next to us. Little concern for how these sites thrive off of anger.
 Now think about that almost accident. Imagine Mom mad at some ex, or political troll, someone hate tweeting her just before junior runs out in front of some old man in a Sequoia: a big vehicle that could do significant harm. Was she mid passion tweets? A misunderstanding with an about to be ex-friend?
 Instant communication when on the run, or in social situations, is not always a good thing. And politics, social platforms, talking heads, talk shows, even some churches doing politics at the pulpit, have all of us so passion-driven these days. So passion-driven common sense and civility make throwing out the baby with the bath water seem more sane. Common sense and civility so extinct references to them may only be seen in future museums. So passion-driven an insane amount of hatred is encouraged because thinking of people in two dimensional terms: pure good, pure evil, is just easier and can provide excuses for all kinds of bad behavior. Not actually looking at people right in front of us, in person, makes it so much easier to use those framing words used far too often these days: “stupid,” “idiot,” “evil.” Make it easier to cheer on violence, make videos killing them just “a joke.”
 The cellular world on these fancy phones helps facilitate all that, make it all more 24/7, make it easy to spew out a thoughtless answer rather than thinking before responding.
 Cellular world is no more real than The Matrix.
 It will get worse. It took years for cops and the law to catch up with how being distracted by a cell phone was more dangerous than exceedingly dangerous drunk driving. At least the drunk is TRYING to pay attention.
 Yes, I’m keeping it. But I wrote this, if for no other reason, to reinforce my own misgivings, and mention them to you.
 I don’t want anyone to be so sucked into cell phone city so much they lose their humanity. May seem hyperbolic now. Just wait. Hopefully it’s not too late.

Bald Mountain Pond, courtesy Pixels; not my phone. Refused to take any pictures at the time.

                                           -30-

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years, first published in fall of 1972. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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