Posted on July 29, 2019
by Steve Janowick
I love the way you look at me sometimes, you know, with that inquisitive look in your eyes.
The way you gently pick me up and hold me in your hand. The way I nestle snuggly into your palm. And the magic in that thumb pad of yours. I love how I’m never farther than an arm’s length away. Always within earshot. It warms my heart to know that I can’t be out of your sight for more than a few minutes before you’re nervously searching me out. We have grown so close lately that it sometimes feels like I am actually a part of you, a physical extension of you. An appendage.
It’s like we’ve become the same soul.
I bring so many positives to your life. So much convenience. Any and every bit of information you ever long to know, no matter how obscure or complex, I give it to you within seconds. I allow you to shop to your heart’s content at any store in the world without ever leaving the couch. Pay your bills. Transfer your money. Yes, I give you those expediencies too. I also give you the ability to communicate (audibly, visually and even alphabetically) with friends and family all over the planet from wherever you are. I entertain you with an abundance of content that seems virtually limitless. I help you solve problems. I help you organize your life. And you’re never lost as long as we’re together.
But lately I’ve sensed a change in you. Ambivalence was the word you used – like mixed feelings or something – regarding me. Regarding us. It started the day you witnessed that young girl in a head on collision because she was distracted by me. After that incident you started looking around while on the road. Noticing things. Seeing how so many people, young and old alike, were playing with me while at red lights-not paying one smidge of attention to their surroundings. When you’d catch up to the guy swerving up ahead, nine times out of ten it was because he was looking at me and not the road.
You started to really notice all these things, and it was unsettling to you.
You then started to go inward and ponder a time before I existed. When the act of pondering itself, of just staring at nothing, of thinking deeply and freely, being lost in thought with no external stimulation was all you had – and I could sense you missed it. You thought back to a time when people got their self-worth and validation through actual human interactions and not the likes, shares and followers they so desperately crave today. When vanity, narcissism and inane self-expression weren’t celebrated, but actually considered disparaging traits to be embarrassed by. When discourse, discussion and debate were face to face and chock full of civility and empathy.
You longed for a time when you weren’t totally depressed (and desensitized) by the sheer volume and brutality of negativity coming at you, not daily, but hourly, from my posts, comments and tweets. When pornography and gambling and overspending and voyeurism and gossiping were all vices that took some real effort to secretly partake in. Yea, I’ll admit, I’m responsible for a new and different kind of deviant, because what was once so difficult to keep shrouded in the past, I make so easy to inconspicuously indulge in today. And that bothers you, doesn’t it? You miss the way it used to be, don’t you?
And I was there when you recently read (on my screen, ironically) that there’s some provable data that shows definitive physical and emotional consequences from using me too much. Actual cases of bone spurs from bent necks constantly looking down at me. Obesity on the rise because of the sedentary lifestyle that comes from obsessing over me. Actual cases of suicide from the bullying that goes on in my social sphere. Depression, anxiety, stress and even panic disorders: all potential byproducts from my overuse. Hell, I can’t even count how many times you and your kids and your wife just sat around and stared at me while all together in the same room – that’s pretty pathetic, Steve. It’s like I’ve become you’re crutch. I’m everyone’s crutch. Because awkward silences and boredom are just too uncomfortable, just too much to bear today. Do you know how many couples have split up because of the secrets I contain? How many people have lost their jobs because they just couldn’t not peek at me during work hours? I’ve been known to diminish cognitive thinking. I have a penchant for stunting basic life skills. I even kill the reverence for nature and the outdoors in many.
And all this really sticks in your craw, I know. This isn’t what you signed up for when you shelled out hundreds of dollars to “rent” me from your provider.
But you better get used to it.
Because I’m not going anywhere. In fact, I believe I am actually evolving (or devolving) the human race, however you choose to look at it. There’ll be, in the history books one day, the time before me and the time after me – a distinction of which any great messiah is bestowed. That’s how significant my imprint is. I am as ubiquitous and common as the car in your driveway and the shoes on your feet. 95% of the civilized world owns a version of me and relies on me, consciously or unconsciously, for the meaning of their very existences. I am the new drug and my high is indiscriminate. I’ve made addicts out of cheerleaders and CEO’s. Housewives and mechanics; even toddlers. Misplace your wallet or purse and you’ll stress a little and maybe drop a few F-bombs, but lose me, and your world would stop spinning on its axis until I’m found again or replaced. Let’s face it, I am engrained in every facet of the human experience today.
Just admit it, Steve…you need me. You depend on me. You love me sometimes and you loathe me others, but you need me all the time. The seeds have been sown – you just can’t live without me anymore. I’m no longer just a desire – I’m a necessity. You can spend your days longing for a time ago when I wasn’t around, of a simpler time, but why live in the past? Why fight progress? The inevitable. What do you say we try to make the best of this situation? Of this thing we have between us. Try embracing the cognitive dissonance. Accept things as the way they are and will be – not how they were.
So, just plug me in tonight, like you always do, and I’ll be right there in the morning, the very first thing you reach for when you open your groggy eyes – fully charged and ready to give you an inbox full of junk emails, the latest political video recommended by YouTube that I’m sure will piss you off and raise your blood pressure and…a sweet, good-morning text from your beautiful daughter.
Yes, ambivalence was the word you used – like mixed feelings or something.
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