This glowing rectangle is there when you go to sleep, there when you wake up. It’s like a life partner minus the spooning, head scratches and everything else human and lovely. But the illuminated block still gets into your pants on the daily, and slips licentiously into your bed. This should be a sacred space of sleep and sex, no?
Sure, it wakes you up in the morning and does its best to make sure you get to work on time. Yes, Siri helps you map your way to the nearest french fries on occasion. Yes again, this little device connects you to your best friend living in Barcelona, and those same-city pals blocks away … enough that you don’t feel the need to see them often? Or call them? Or even text them?
And the worrying begins.
Spike Jonze made some amazingly realistic sci-fi stabs at how the future of the human-technology relationship could unfold. And when I say relationship I mean r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p … orgasms and all. (Quick shout out to Scar-Jo’s heavy breathing claiming a life of its own). But I don’t think this bond we’ve cultivated is a healthy one—and the concept of “technology in bed” seems to merely exemplify its metastatic entry into our lives.
We are conditioned to set our iPhone alarm(s) and send a few texts from between the sheets, which seems reasonable enough. And then there’s the mindless abyss of scrolling. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook again because, oh, it’s been five minutes, someone might have published engagement photos in that time—or popped their Cronut cherry. Anything is possible.
But it’s harming our sleep and our tender humanness. Our woman-ness. Our man-ness. Our gorgeous in-between-ness.
Well, I know it’s harming mine.
If we’re not listening to our beating bodies, then perhaps we should open our ears to science. The health experts out there seem to have done their research and report that technology is not the best for our wellbeing (same goes for those Jedi e-cigs). Taken with a grain (or cup) of salt, I’m talking about sleep cycle disturbances, increased stress levels, minor radiation, digital eyestrain and negative emotional impact on human interactions. And if these studies don’t sell the scare, there is a lot to be said simply by looking at what media we, Americans, cause to go viral.
There is a scene in Kim Hohman’s contagious video “After I Saw This, I Put My Phone Down and Didn’t Pick It Up For The Rest of The Day,” where she tells a story and not one of her five friends are listening enough to notice when she drops off mid-sentence. This happens in real life. Maybe you and your friends have risen above, but last weekend I was the Kim, chatting to the top of my friends’ pretty heads outside Cornerstone Cafe.
Hohman went viral because on some visceral level what we saw was true—and truth is humor.
Let me dismount from my high horse for a second.
Okay, I’m off, and guilty of being the person on my phone too, which only makes me more sad and mad and worried about our future. Even toddlers know how to work the damn things.
And then there’s the anxiety that comes when an amazingly hip birthday or concert or beach bonfire is not captured and instantly documented. If you’re collecting maple in the middle of a Vermont forest in the perfect flannel and no one sees it, did it happen?
Still worried over here.
Embarrassing confession as the icing on this contemptuous cake: There are subway rides when I feel secretly proud of myself as I turn physical pages of a book, most everyone else staring into lustrous devices of all shapes and sizes.
This action should not warrant pride. Group resolution to let an espresso and a little sunshine light up our mornings this February instead of “it”?
It is 2014 and I am frightened of my 5 x 2.