Imagine yourself at a relaxation seminar and one of the gurus asks you to picture yourself void of all communication, whether it be a laptop, a smartphone or any electronics.
In theory, this should be relaxing; you don’t have to worry about all the hubbub and gossip amongst friends or family.
In reality, it’s quite the opposite.
Just witness a person who’s been accidentally separated from their phone for a few seconds. They get a look in their eyes like they might be struck down by the gods unless the sacred object is found. That’s followed by the frantic search, where they appear to be dodging a homing missile, running frantically in every direction.
At one time, this would have been odd behavior. Today, it’s as common as seeing the stickers left in place on flat-brimmed baseball hats. There’s a reason that the Blackberry is nicknamed the “Crackberry.”
Speaking of phones that are more habit-forming than addictive drugs, let’s talk about the iPhone. I don’t think less of anybody for owning an iPhone, but if every time you receive a call, you feel the need to say “I have to take this call…on my iPhone”, that’s a different story. Does Bill Gates get out of his car and say, “I make more money than you, and you…” every time he sees someone? No, he doesn’t. It’s not necessary at all.
They say there’s an app for everything now, but that won’t be true until there’s one for automatically electrocuting every ignoramus that gratuitously mentions owning an iPhone. Take note, Apple.
Smartphones have made an infinite amount of antisocial behavior mainstream. Is a casual acquaintance calmly walking toward you on the street? What if they see you? We don’t even think about this anymore – we just fake a phone call or text. Yeah, that’s the solution. Faking a phone call to avoid the traumatic experience of saying “Hi” to an actual person.
Then there’s Facebook, the greatest and most awful invention of the past several decades. When you wake up, do you think about what you’ll have for breakfast, or what notifications you may have since you last checked your profile eight painstaking hours ago? My guess is the latter. Facebook abuse should become a medical diagnosis for insomnia, judging by the amount of people that are still on at 3 a.m., myself included.
Would you ever walk up to someone and say, “Could I see some pictures of you?”, or “What are your general activities and interests?” or my personal favorite, “What’s your relationship status?” No one would ever do that, because you would most likely be reported as a predator and be beaten to a pulp on the spot by someone who is much, much bigger than you.
Thankfully, Facebook protects and emboldens the stalker in all of us. Oh, I know, Facebook isn’t designed for stalking people, just like Twitter isn’t designed for celebrities. This is how a term once universally understood as “staking out and/or harassing a person with unwanted attention” has become an acceptable leisure activity. What will the future hold for other serious words that have potential to become abused?
But to even have the option to “stalk” someone, you must first go through the tedious and dangerous process of a “friendship request,” which should probably be renamed to “blatant permission to look at that picture of you in a bikini.” Which begs the question – does making eye contact and getting a good look at a girl’s name-tag at the mall make you “friends”? In this society, it apparently does.