Some Thoughts About Constant Connectivity – The Awl

Idon’thaveasmartphone。

Iamawarethatthisputsmeinanever-shrinkingdemographic(whenIgotmymostrecentphone,amodelsosimplethatitsmostadvancedfeatureisaslide-outkeyboard,thepersonhelpingmecalledovertwoofherco-workersbecausenoneofthemhadseenitbefore),andtherearecertainlyannoyancesIputupwithtomaintainthatstatus:WhenI’mheadingsomewhereunfamiliarIhavetoplanmyjourneyoutinadvance。

Ialwaysneedtoremindpeoplethatifthey’regoingtobelateortheyneedtocancelplanstheyhavetotextmebecauseIcan’tgetemail。

Ispendalotoftimestandingonlinethinkingaboutthingsinsteadofcalmingmyselfwithcrushablecandyorwhatever。

(Thisisperhapsthehardestpartofrefusingtoenterourmobileworld;thereisalmostnoonewhoneedsprotectionfrombeingalonewithhisthoughtsmorethanIdo。

)AndyetIpersist,becauseIrefusetobecomeahostagetotheweb。

Irefusetobealwaysavailable。

Irefusetoforgetthatmostoflifeisboredomanddiscomfortwithnoeasyrecoursetodistraction。

Ihavenoillusionthatmyrefusalsareinanywayreflectiveofagrowingmovementagainstconstantconnection。

Ifanything,it’sonlygoingfurthertheotherway。

Forexample:DopeopleinSiliconValleyeverturnofftheirphones?

Theanswerseemstobeanoccasional,semi-braggy“yes,butonlywhenI’mrunningmarathons,”whichisovershadowedbyanoverwhelming“no,notreally,notbychoice,”or,asonepersonactuallyputit,“We’rebuildingacompanyforthelongtermandbeingofflineisnotanoption。

”“Idosleepwithmyphoneundermypillow,though!

”saysawomanwhopridesherselfoncarvingouttwo-to-fourhours“awayfromdevice-enabledconnectivity。



Igetit。

Iunderstandthatonceyouhavethetechnologyitisalmostimpossiblenottouseit,evenifyouknowitisultimatelybadforyou。

Iamawarethatmakingyourselfconstantlyavailable?

—?

creatingaworld,infact,wherebeingunavailableisnotanoption?

—?

isawaytosignalhowbusyandvitalandvaluableyouare。

Ifyourself-esteemiscompletelywrappedupintheideathat“online”equals“working”and“working”ishowyoudemonstrateyourlevelofimportance,theideathatyoumightmissanemailishorrifying,becauseitrobsyouofyourcarefully-constructedconceptofyourselfasadynamic,importantpartofthedigital?

age。

Andthenthere’sthis:“Icancomeupwithalonglistofreasonswhyyoushouldbealotmoreworriedaboutpeoplewhoareontheirphonesthanpeoplewhoareoffthem。

Butcultureisaweirdthing。

Sometimeswewanttobepureandaboveitall,tobeobservational。

Othertimeswewanttofitin。

Atthatmoment,inthatbar,anyonenotlookingattheirphonewaspresumedtobeaserialkiller。

SoItookmineoutofmypocketandlookedatit,andeveryoneelsechilled?

out。



IrealizethatIamswimmingagainstthetideofhistoryhere。

ButifIcanaskaquestionthatwemayhaveoverlookedinourrushtotakeadvantageofeverythingthat’savailabletousinthisnewworld,WHATTHEHELLISWRONGWITHYOUPEOPLE?

Notonlyareyounormalizingpsychoticbehavior,youarestigmatizingbasichumaninteraction。

(Andifyouthinkthat“psychoticbehavior”isatadharshasadescriptorforsmartphoneusageyoushouldGoogleupthesymptomsofthatconditionthenexttimeyouwakeupat3A。

M。

andreachforyourdeviceunderyourpillow。

)Youaretryingtotelltherestofusthatbeinggrossinthewayyouaregrossisactuallyadmirableandsomethingoneshouldaspireto。

Youareencouragingtheworstkindofnarcissismandyouarepretendingthatitisprogress。

Youarepretendingthatitisacceptable。

Look,ifyouguyswanttobecomeglass-eyedscrolljockeysIamnotgoingtostandinyourway,butwhenyoutrytoturnthingsaroundsothatnotbeingonyourphoneeverysecondsomehowmakesyouthefreakthenthingshavegonetoofar。

Iknowyouarereadingthisonyourphonerightnowandshakingyourhead,butletmetellyousomething:YOUARETHEREALFREAK。

Unlessyouareadoctorandapatientmightdiethereisnomoreneedforyoutobeavailableallthetimethanthereisforateenagedsalespersoninaretailapparelstoretowalkaroundwithaheadset。

That’swhoyouare,youhollow-facedtap-addict:You’reaGapemployeecirca1999。

Putdownyourfucking?

phone。

Photo:Shutterstock。