In the past year I've become hyper-aware that in every restaurant, store, gallery, library, in every seat on a bus, subway, train, plane, cab, limo and even movie theater, people are either on a phone, checking their Blackberry, looking at an iPad, Kindle (or other reading device) or plugged into some sort or game or iPod. I can't remember the last time I had a meal with anyone where at some point they didn't check their phone for an email, text or Facebook entry. Stand on any street corner and look at the people around you, everyone's on the phone. Walking down the street, everyone's got earplugs in or looking at a device. I went out to dinner with 5 friends recently and at one point everyone but me was checking their phone. I was appalled but didn't say a word. WTF???
The other day my phone died. I was incommunicado for about 5 hours. I must admit I had a rush of panic and a nagging sense of anxiety until I arrived back at my apartment and plugged in my phone. "What if someone calls? What if I miss a job? What if someone dies?" I tried to rationalize how stupid my thoughts were. I took a Xanax.
I think this is a HORRIFIC shift in our society. We rarely communicate face to face without interruption. We're not offended if someone says "hold on" while looking down at their electronic device, because frankly, we want the same consideration when our phone buzzes. Walk into any Starbucks or small coffee shop. It's impossible to get a seat because 30 people are plugged into an outlet doing something on their computer. They sit for hours staring into their screen unaware of what's going on around them. Coffee shops have become personal work spaces for the few able to get a seat.
Not to mention that people are dying left and right from walking out in traffic unable to hear horns blowing just before they're squished. Dead on the ground, iPod still attached to their ears. Ridiculous.
I want to take an electronics-free road trip. Like the old days. Leave the phone at home, take only a film camera and a few rolls of film. Take off for a few days and just drive. Sounds lovely. Now, should I pack some Xanax or take my chances?
Mailer was right....