I arrived at work this evening and the minute I walked through the door, I knew something wasn’t right. I felt lighter but not in the sense of being relieved by some heavy burden. The lightness I felt registered as panic even before I realized what was out of kilter. Instinct told me to give myself the I forgot something pat down. The search revealed one missing cell phone–an iPhone 4S to be exact. For some reason, I think the previous detail makes the situation sound direr. What would I do without Siri all night? By the way, my phone was merely left at home and not misplaced. The whole inconvenience of the situation got me thinking about our attachments, to not only cell phones, but to our devices in general. My saving grace was that I had my iPad in my bag still leaving me the option to communicate through email, Facebook, Twitter, and via instant message with those of my friends with iOS5. For all intensive purposes, though, I was still roughing it.
What is it about being connected that is so gratifying? All day, everyday, we see people glued to their phones at work, the gym, while eating, driving, and even while in actual conversation with real people. It’s the only thing I can think of that can make the world a smaller place, while isolating us at the same time. On this very day, a day without Siri, I read a blog post by Marten Weber titled Love Grind. Weber presented an argument that social networking was slowly killing the gay bar. Who needs to go out when you can sit at home and cruise guys at your leisure on your phone or tablet. I don’t know if the argument presented was a solid hypothesis as to why some gay bars have reported a decline in attendance since the boom of social networking apps like Grinder. One could argue that it’s, in fact, the economy that’s affecting bar attendance.
I will go as far to say that social networking apps have drastically changed how we communicate. I have seen people interact on social networking apps while both parties are in the same establishment and never once did they exchange words in person. What’s more frightening to me is that I think social networking is the preferred method to meet for a growing number of people. Weber makes another poignant statement, What happens to people who grow up cyber-dating, making life choices based on a handful of pics rather than the impression gathered from a whole person: the smell, the way he talks…? What about those wonderful chance encounters with totally unexpected people whose online profile you would never, ever click on? How does online dating change the daters?
I love technology. I, myself, have acquired a small fortune in Apple technology but I do worry about the ramifications of our technology addiction. If I hear or see one more person end a relationship over text, continue a phone call while a server is trying to take their order, or text while occupying gym equipment, I’m going to go crazy. When did we become a bunch of assholes that can’t communicate unless utilizing a personal device?
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of taking my first cruise and due to the expense of insanely high wifi rates and not having an international plan, my cell phone was rendered useless for a week. It was a little nerve wrecking at first. I couldn’t help but feel I was missing important calls or text. I knew I was going to arrive home and learn some great aunt I never heard of passed away. The truth is, after the initial withdrawal, it was relaxing not having to keep up with my phone. It was an actual vacation. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the lack of portable technology but people aboard the ship seemed friendlier and more out going than if we were on land. We were forced to talk to one another. I actually met people and not with the masked motive of hooking up that often comes with social phone apps, and civilization survived without me while I was away.