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Sunday, November 6, 2011

iPhone Zombies

So. I’m at a party and meet a young man who’s a student at Marquette University. I tell him I went there too. He seems interested; we have a nice connection. Then suddenly he looks down at his iPhone.

He’s lost to me. I don’t exist.

I’ve had it.

It’s not just young people. Older folks do it too: suddenly shift attention from their surroundings in order to stare at a machine in their hand. I feel downright jumpy with all the multi-tasking going on around me. And I feel insignificant.

If I’m boring people, I’d like to see them think of a clever way to extricate themselves from my presence, just like I have to do when I’m tired of a conversation. Why shouldn’t they suffer like I do?

My friend Karen C. tells me to lighten up. She says, “They don’t even realize they’re doing it.”

Well, someone needs to tell them: This is rude! Be here now! Look into people’s eyes! Be a human being!

But at the party with the Marquette student, I bit my tongue. I never know what to say; I’m always so shocked when this happens.

Soon afterward, I rented the movie “Shaun of the Dead,” one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, chock full of laughs and terrific movie zombies.

And that’s when I made the connection: people who suddenly gaze at machines in their hands look like zombies. They lose the human connection to those around them. It’s like they’re possessed by a power greater than themselves. They stiffen. They stare. They become passive and helpless, like the Eloi when the Morlocks run the siren in “The Time Machine.”

iPhone zombies don’t moan like movie zombies, but I’m ready to. I can’t take it anymore.

So I’ve come up with an assortment of quick comments I can fling the next time I’m talking to an iPhone zombie who enters an altered state:

1.      “Sorry – I didn’t mean to keep you from your machine.”

2.      “Am I boring you?”

3.      (No comment at all; just turn on my heel and walk away, or leave the table.)

4.      (While hovering my hand and wristwatch over the face of the iPhone) “Do you need the time? It’s 5:15.”

5.      “Is Mommy calling?”

6.      “Heloo-oo! Remember me?”

7.      “Remember when we used to go minutes without one?”

8.      “Did the Morlocks ring the siren?”

These comments aren’t really spiffy. I’m open to suggestions. I don’t think I can keep quiet any more.

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