Who else grew up Catholic? Remember the “Glory Be”? It ended, “World without end. Amen.” Pretty optimistic for the Catholics in this one. I guess when they wrote that prayer, they couldn’t have anticipated the identity of USA’s #45. Well, I took the end of that prayer to title this blog because I’m sick of cell phones. And, I’m a hypocrite. And I hyperbolist.
My iPhone is less than a foot from me as I first start to type this because Chas is on his way home from a business trip and I need to complain to him about my sudden allergies.
On Wednesday, when my mom and I attempted to hold Crochet Club, we simply could not. We couldn’t get yarn into the girls’ hands, not a hook between any of their stubby little fingers. I stood on my proverbial cell phone soapbox, told them what time it is and Nance and I blew that popsicle stand. What else were we supposed to do? Children who couldn’t get enough fluffy yarn and crochet time back in the fall were eschewing their former pastime in favor of another. The most indomitable. The most demanding. The most desirable and evil and all-powerful.
The cell phone.
I have seen girls stroke their phones, call a phone “my baby,” and during they day when they cannot have their phones on them at all, they often have the phone’s case with them like, “in memory of this morning, when I had my phone…”
I cannot compete with a cell phone. My mom driving all the way from West Baltimore to give her afternoon for Crochet Club cannot either. We’re no competition when the girls start playing awful music and dancing and snapping and insta-ing and god knows what else, they seemingly cannot stop. It surely is an addiction. But it surely doesn’t have to be.
Aside from the lure of the phone for my children, is the danger of the phone for my children. Girls talk to boys, send photos to boys, plan to meet up with boys. Ah! I got my first phone when I was 14 but I am so glad I didn’t have to grow up in the world of smart phones or even camera phones. As educators, we have to investigate the behaviors our students carry out on phones now. Forget “He said…She said,” because now it’s all “She snapped this and then he insta-snapped that and then she was like this and that’s when he sent a Vimeo and then she posted it to YouTube and then she said that back on Spotify…and then the whole world exploded.” It’s a lot more detangling, a lot more mess, and a lot more of, “Do you even understand that nothing you post on the internet ever really goes away?” and more, “That boy does not deserve to have your text, let alone a compromising photo of you,” and more, “Why can’t you just talk it out in person?”
So that’s the kid angle. They’re obsessed, they’ve never known a life without it. I can barely imagine how this looks when they are adults. Will phones be surgically implanted into their hands? The sides of their heads? Where do we even go from here? How will they know how to interact with real, live humans? Will they even have enough words?
But many adults are no better. I have a hard time holding back when I am out with someone and the phone sits on the table. Why does the phone get a seat at the table? Groups of disenfranchised people have been fighting for seats at the proverbial table for centuries…and we just willy nilly give one to our cell phones? And the hypocritical thing is, sometimes I, too, have to pull out my phone and deal with something. But why? Why is the pull so strong? Why can’t it wait like it did for millennia before? It gets us all.
There’s one episode of Seinfeld in which cell phones are a factor. Elaine is floundering about calling her friend to check in on her sick father. But Jerry says she cannot make that call from a cell phone because “The Cell Phone Walk and Talk” is inconsiderate, too rushed, and unfair. Elaine keeps going back and forth about when to call her friend.
Okay, fine. Not a thing today. We get it. But basically a good chunk of the 9 seasons of Seinfeld would be impossible with cell phones. (This is not a post about Seinfeld though. This is.) Think about Elaine’s “little kicks” dance move–she’d be viral! And even more humiliated! Or episode two when Jerry has to recall the name of the office building where a woman works and repeats it over and over again so he can stake her out–these days, he’d be able to stalk her online in about 34 seconds. What about when George wants to sleep with his coworker after a party so Jerry has to find his own way home? He calls Kramer who lets the address fly out the window of his car and it goes from there. This could be true of any story, really. I mean Romeo and Juliet did not have to die. But don’t you miss these little dramas, on screen and in real life, just a little? Do you miss having to pick up the phone to see if it’s your 7th grade boyfriend calling the house before your dad answers? Or planning ahead to meet someone somewhere and then knowing that that person cannot flake on you because she has literally no way of telling you she cannot make it?
Are there any mysteries anymore? I mean people post photos of their hot dog buns, Bichons, babies, bellies, car batteries, who knows? “What did you do last night?” or “How are you?” are barely worth asking. Because I could just look it up. I won’t because generally, if I care, I’d rather ask you that myself, but still. A few clicks and I’ve got your last seven years in front of me.
I won’t weigh the pros and the cons here. That’s too laborious. But what I will say, is that I am ready to be less phone-y. I want to just live. And be a human. And occasionally be part of 2018 but mostly just BE. So maybe the title is a bit of a hyperbole but it’d be simpler, right?
We weren’t born with phones in our hands and I don’t think we should die that way either. Let’s all make an effort to exist more in the world than we exist on the internet or in texts. Who’s with me?