Behave Your Selfies

Here are a few things in which I don’t believe: cell phones, social media, and the devaluation of both privacy and individuality.And by not believing, I don’t mean the category of disbelief in which resides Paul Bunyan, the statement, “resigning to spend more time with my family”, and comfortable high heels.  I know that phones, Twitter, and pathological sameness and oversharing exist; I just don’t believe those things are necessary to my life.

Let’s talk cellphones.

When people find out I don’t own, and have never owned one, almost to a human, they express stunned incredulity.  They eye me a bit closer.  I can see them thinking, what type of human is this?The boring truth is that I work from home, and when I’m out I don’t want to be bugged.  Attached to my landline is an answering machine.  I’m neither a brain surgeon or liable to go into labor, so don’t need to be connected in case of emergency.

From there, the response diverges according to age.

People over thirty will beam at me and say, “I wish I didn’t have one! I hate it! I’m so proud of you!”  Their pride in me feels weird, like I’m a chicken that’s been taught to do math.  But I always wonder, if they hate them so much…why do they carry one?

But it’s the children under thirty that are the real laugh riot.Have you ever seen a movie with a robot or computer when they’re given input with a fatal logic error?  They start jerking and clicking, twitching and smoking.  Then they wave their arms and run into the nearest vertical surface, back up and do it over and over again.

That’s what it looks like.  Those poor little lambs can’t wrap their heads around the concept.

It’s not just the phones, though.  It’s what those phones get up to.

Specifically, I’m talking selfies.I know I already sound like that cranky old lady that yells at those darn kids, so, I’m going all in.  Here goes…

When I was a kid, there was a little something called humility.  What depraved level of vanity makes it not only thinkable, but mandatory to takes hundreds of photos of YOURSELF?

The Wright boys, 2018.

It makes me think about the time and brain power being wasted.  Do you think the Wright Brothers would have invented manned-flight if they’d blown most of their days getting the best “candid” shots for their insta page?  Might we still be sitting around in the dark if Edison was too busy fishing for “likes” to invent the lightbulb?  Imagine the carnage if Stephanie Kwolek spent her days documenting her every move with photos instead of creating Kevlar.

But the thing that actually alarms me is a commonality in most of the photos.  Once you see it, you’ll never not see it.  It’s the result of the hundreds of thousands of photos taken of themselves; a horrible kind of ennui.Microblading PenIt’s the eyes.  They are glazed, dead-looking, devoid of any emotion.  They look like they have seen every single thing this world has to offer, and they’re completely bored by it.

What’s needed is a healthy, regular dose of youthful astonishment.  So, I’ll keep telling those whipper snappers that I’ve never owned a cell phone.

The marketing to make an unnecessary item indispensable has been the largest piece of wool pulled over the most eyes in human history.  Our parents that stood up to evil were the greatest generation.  Our children have become the most wired generation.So, it’s up to us to surprise and embarrass them every chance we get.

It’s good for them.

Thanks for your time.

A handy reference chart for those of you unfamiliar with human emotions.

Luddites Unite!

To look at Petey and me, you’d never guess.

Between us we have two heads, four arms, and four legs.  We read, watch movies, and play with our Pontiac-sized dog.  I adore clothes, shoes, and cooking.  Petey likes sports, music, and meteorology.  We both love to hang out at Costco and judge people based on the contents of their shopping carts.

But there is something very different about us: we’ve never owned a cell phone.

Not counting our house, The Kid has had six different addresses since leaving for college.  These vagabond ways have made a cell the sensible choice.  But we’ve had the same address since 1989.  The most gypsy Petey and I get is visiting both Harris Teeter and Kroger in the same shopping trip.

We also both work from home.  And when we go out, we’re usually together.  Neither of us are brain surgeons or expectant mothers.  We have no need to be connected 24/7.  We’re just not that important. There’s something else you should understand about me.  When I was in high school my nickname was Little Debbie Digit, Queen of the Rotary Dial.  It got shortened to Digit, or Didge, but it all meant the same thing; the telephone and I had a very close, personal relationship.

Can you imagine if I always had a phone on me?  I’m not sure of the ultimate outcome, but I know it wouldn’t be pretty.  I have visions of one of those Special Forces raids, complete with helicopters and armed personnel carriers, flash-bang grenades, and remote robots in an overwhelming show of force all to get the phone out of my hot little hand.

When I tell people that I have no alternate phone number because I don’t own a cell, I get one of two reactions.  People over the age of thirty gaze at me with a mixture of astonishment and wistful envy.  They invariably say one of two things; either, “I wish I could be as brave as you”, or “I’m so proud of you”.  Like I just told them that I mill my own flour, and weave my own fabric.But the thing that always strikes me coming away from one of these encounters is, why would I want a mobile phone when people my own age act like they’d rather have the plague than their electronic tether?

But it’s the reaction of tech-savvy youth that really amuse me.

Have you ever seen a sci-fi movie where a robot or computer is given input that completely defies any sort of logic?  They start stuttering, twitching, and eventually begin smoking and throwing off sparks, before experiencing a total melt-down.  Often in those movies, it’s how we puny humans take down our robotic overlords.It looks pretty much like that.  The poor kids just can’t wrap their wired little minds around the concept.  I get a lot of blinking, and what looks like attempts to reboot their programming.

And the few times I’ve had to talk on a cell phone I resemble Granny Clampett.  I hold it about a foot and a half from my head and screech into it.  Honestly, they could probably hear my shouting without the phone.  But the joy that comes from the sight of my mortified child in that situation is worth the frustration of having to talk on one those infernal machines.

And you know what?  When wonderful things happen, I see it first-hand—there is no small rectangle of plastic between me and real life.

Thanks for your time.