Phone Zombies

No big political issue to throw at you tonight reader, nor is this a funny film review or commentary on the gaming industry from my disgruntled inner nerd. Let’s take this back to where this blog began really, so so long ago where I was just pointing at some random aspect of modern culture and going “You know what? That’s fucking irritating”. Today’s topic then is the curse of the phone addict/junkie/zombie and my response to this apparent plague is not what you’d expect but to put it in brief – there’s no such thing as phone zombies, you might have a few individuals glued to their screen just because but for most of us, we have perfectly valid reasons to stick to our cells and mobiles, whichever term you prefer.

You’ve probably seen pictures circling around on the internet, usually in your Facebook news feed of these zombified masses surgically attached to a smart phone, groaning for likes and trudging around like the undead. You’ll hear statements like “Kids these days” or “Look at what our generation has become”, all these sad statements that read like written shakes of the head, as if your mother and your inner guilt got together for lunch to write something for you to read. At first, you might react in the expected sense, feeling bad, feeling like you should ‘look up’ as one video put it, get over social media and not be one of these grotesque creatures but here’s the thing, it’s a load of bullshit. I mean, don’t get me started on the hypocrisy of using social media as a platform to berate social media and modern technology, what a stupid thing to do. The whole ‘smartphones equals dumb people’ thing is lazy, untrue and just self-congratulatory intellectual smugness from people who developed life skills before the internet became so accessible, some self-satisfied way of peering down people’s noses and then expecting shares and likes for this wise insight into the modern world? Get over yourself. I’m all for intellectual smugness and celebrating one’s own knowledge, I do it myself, but doing it in the sense of this elitism is just rude and only exposes you as a total arse. I much prefer the path of making a reference only a choice few will get, you exclude some so you feel like you know something particular but you don’t slap anyone in the face as being less worthwhile than you, it just means you exist in different realms of interest. You just know whoever made these pictures and spread them around thinks they’re so damn sage and clever, pointing and sneering at those of us committed to our technology but when you then upload it to the internet as self-promotion, you’re basically jerking yourself off on a stage and calling the audience a bunch of wankers.

Dialling back the rage, I’m going to say I’m pretty attached to my technology, my phone and laptop in particular. If I go out, my phone comes too, even if only briefly. I wouldn’t say I’m glued to it, I just keep it handy in all situations and never go too far from it if I can help it. Whilst out, I’d check it about once an hour unless I receive a call or text or alarm of some sort, generally if I’m out of the house then I’m doing something important or social and so I don’t have time for sitting and texting. Now why do I keep it handy, you ask? Well:

  1. Job applications – Made several, still waiting on feedback/interview invitations.
  2. Emergencies – What if I have an accident and need help? What if someone else needs help?
  3. Friends – Sometimes, I get messaged out of the blue or I’ll be passing somewhere I know people in the area and I can quickly ask those nearby if they’re free to grab coffee or whatever.
  4. Easily reached – I can tell people when and where to expect me whilst I’m out. If I’m going to be late, people will know.
  5. Anxiety – This might sound stupid but I can panic without my phone because of reasons 1 to 4, what if I miss one of those important calls or texts that tells me I got a job or a friend of mine has just been kicked out by their partner and needs someone right now? I find those things almost always happen when I’m not immediately available, missed two phone interviews whilst on the can!!

And that’s not even considering the fact phones have changed so much since I was a kid. I could understand worrying when a teen wouldn’t give up their Nokia, it was an easy way to blow through money on essentially talking to people you lived a few streets away from and otherwise playing Snake whilst you awaited their response but now? Long distance relationships, phones that can access the internet to let you read the news, check out new music videos, catch up on missed matches, meet potential romantic partners – the world is in the palm of our hand these days, can you not comprehend how amazing that is? What used to be a computer, a watch, a calendar, a landline and a newspaper all now fits into a device the same size as a library card! I remember making an old man steam with frustration as he told me off for staring into my lap at some goddamn screen and I looked up to tell him
“Actually, I was trying to understand this Syrian crisis thing, I write about current news. What are your views on the subject?”
I was not bothered for the rest of my bus journey. I’ve caught wrong trains and gotten myself stuck in tight spots, panicking and reaching out only to receive those reassuring words of an old friend that I’d be alright, I’d find my way home if I calmed down and if I got that lost, they’d drive out and find me. Without a phone, damn, I’d have been stuck out in the wrong end of England for a while just running around screaming in panic. Oh, and when you get an unexpected text from someone, you know that means you crossed their mind, they cared about you and wanted to show it, that is so goddamn satisfying and nice. Nothing makes my day like someone just sending a text like that, something small and sweet.

We are attached to our phones because they are extensions of ourselves, we want them to match our style, we load them with apps we would use, they are full of photos we took and numbers we want to call. The smartphone is a portal to saying hello to people you can’t just greet at their address, to learning new things and hearing great jokes or amazing songs, people who criticise these things as making us idiots just don’t know the potential of such technology. If your kid is a ‘phone zombie’, ever considered why? You’re probably cursing the fact they’re glued to social media right? Calm down, we all are these days and even so, it helps them stay in touch, it’s not like teenagers have an abundance of money to go for coffee every time they feel like chatting. Don’t smugly look down on them, certainly not if you’re making that “Oh what is the world coming to?” speech from your Facebook profile, because my generation and the generations thereafter just happened to be young enough to embrace the technological revolution and run with it, you’re nothing better for clipping people’s wings because you can’t fly.

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