I don’t know if he doesn’t own a cellphone, but I do know that, if he does, it is sitting forgotten somewhere on a nightstand or on the kitchen counter next to the morning mail. And so, he passes, the free man; the only one who smells the salt air un-tinged with plastic and undiluted by the elsewhere-thinking of our brave new world.
Cellphones? Come on, man; that’s so clichéd. Dishwashers are what’s wrong with the world. Still, we agree on the essence of the matter. I tell you, it’s almost an unbearable burden, this gift of truesight, of being able to judge strangers at a glance and read their minds in an eyeblink, to be forced to bear witness to all the inauthentic people doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. It’s like Virginia Woolf famously said, human nature changed on or about the turn of the millennium, when Trivia, Distraction and Consumerism escaped from Pandora’s flip phone, and people lost touch with all the deep and profound things they were most assuredly doing with their lives up to that point. Not me, of course. My use of a smartphone is always judicious and necessary, and my conversations are always a scintillating mixture of poetry and philosophy. This is why, like Sisyphus as imagined by Camus, I return to my task gladly — to watch the world pass by and be disappointed in how it has failed me. ♫ Iiiiiiii look at all the phone-y people..♫
Earlier today, I went by my rheumatologist’s to do my quarterly blood tests. I was in the waiting room reading Micah Mattix’s newsletter when the nurse called me back. I sat in the chair and handed my paperwork to her. “Did they already enter you into the system? I bet they didn’t…nope, they didn’t! Sigh…” She pecked away at her keyboard for a couple minutes. Finally, I decided to get my phone out of my bag and finish reading the email. For a moment, though, I felt self-conscious — the other three patients in the room, hooked up to their IV drips, were all senior citizens. Would they shake their heads and frown at seeing this younger fellow so predictably reach for his gadget when faced with a moment’s downtime? I glanced up and saw that they were all too busy contentedly scrolling through their own phones to notice or care. Who am I to argue with the wisdom of my elders?