Rage Against The Machine

Do as I say: Drop the phone and nobody gets hurt. 

I am not the Unabomber. This is not a manifesto against technology. It’s just a rant. Oh, sure, there’s no denying the many benefits of modern technology—or the many annoyances.

Try to remember those sane days when “text” wasn’t a verb, “selfie” had not yet been derived from “selfish,” people were smarter than their phones, and no one felt compelled to take a photo of their lunch so 37 “followers” could see it. “Hey, look, there’s the tuna melt Wally just ate! Awesome!” (Confession: I love tuna melts.)

The appeal of smartphones eludes me, and not just because I prefer to look straight ahead when I walk. Maybe I come from a long line of Luddites (Google it on your phone), but any type of phone always has seemed intrusive. I use my less-intelligent phone only when needed. No boring chitchat, no needless texting. My only apps come from Beef O’Brady’s, the only bars I need serve beer, and whatever the Angry Birds are, may they photobomb all the gadget addicts.

Don’t call me, I won’t call you. (Confession: I don’t know what “the cloud” is, but I expect that one day, when Alexander Graham Bell returns to Earth, all true believers in smartphones will be lifted up into it.)

Unfortunately, it’s unrealistic to believe smartphones will become a passing fad, like pet rocks, mood rings, or Myspace. “Follower” is a good word for the technological age. Camera phones represent the greatest mass marketing scam ever: “It’s a phone! It’s a camera! It’s a phone and a camera! You need one!”

Why? What exactly is this obsession—self-obsession—with photos?

When I was a kid, my parents took photos on trips and at family gatherings. Five years later, maybe you looked at them in a scrapbook—once. No one needed to see Suzy’s chocolate-covered face at the picnic again and again. And we didn’t mail that photo to people around the world and ask them to comment on Suzy’s chocolate-covered face.

At an Orlando Magic game last spring, a self-absorbed couple asked someone to take their photo with their phone during the national anthem—repeatedly. Apparently, the first shot wasn’t good enough. Forget about the anthem of our country and the tribute to first responders on the court: “How do we look!?”

You look like idiots. Enough already. Lift your heads up. Look around. The world is not 5 inches wide. (Confession: It’s actually 32 inches wide and in my living room.)