Friday, January 5, 2018

On Phones and Bruising One's Self

I have been known to rail against technology, yet I use it on quite a high level, with music production and even as a teacher. It's good and it's bad. Trent Reznor points out, in the film Sound City, that the current tech tools have enabled musicians to do things we could never do before but that it has not increased the number of great albums being made. In short, no amount of tech is going to make the mediocre, brilliant or the bad, good, in any discipline.

I am in a constant state of evaluating tech and its effects on me. When it affects me negatively, I eliminate or control its influence. My Facebook use is reduced, at present, by about 80%. I feel like a new man, for more reasons than I have time to explain right now.  Social media is no longer on my phone phone is not always at my side.

I'll wait for the cacophony or world-wide gasps to die down before I continue.

Whether literally or figuratively, people do gasp at that idea, even as they panic and give themselves bruises during the self-pat-down-of-doom when they realize they have left home without their Precious. Because, here's the thing: The people around me expect me to have my phone on me at all times, whether they are friends, family, or professional colleagues. They all need to stop.

We each need to draw the line, for ourselves.

The other day, I was essentially given the cold shoulder  (no pun intended) for not having had my phone on my while I was shoveling snow.

Why do people think that they have a right to my attention whenever they want it? If they want to carry their phones at all times, they sure can do so. But I choose not to. Right now for instance, I am not sure where in the house it is. This morning, I drank two cups of coffee in silence -- without my phone; no Words with Friends; no Doodle Jump; no weather updates.

When I was a kid -- and into my adult years -- if I was not in the house, you would not get me on the phone. Way back in the dark past, you couldn't even leave a message for me, so, if you missed me, you missed me. (You might have been able to leave a message with my Dad, but, chances are he was working out voicing for the sax section on a big band arrangement and probably never really realized who he was talking to, let along remember a message for his kid.)

I get it. Paradigms shift. But, at some point, each of us needs to "dig in" and hold to the ideas that help life make sense to us. It just does not make sense to me that I need to be immediately at everyone's beck. I get to be left alone when I want to be, even as a professional. In my profession, people don't die if I don't get a call.

Are we all really so deluded as to our own "special" self-importance by all of this tech celebrity that is available to us for only a short "sign-up" for a social media program? (Heck -- what sign-up process? Just click the blue box to sign on with Facebook and weave yourself more claustrophobically into the heavy damp tapestry of the Interweb...) Is it all ego? -- "he needs to be available for me and I need to be available to others because I am so important"?  Well, I just ain't that important, and that feels good. And neither are you.

I'll tell you does have, as I said, its advantages. These days, if I don't want to talk to you I can look at my phone and ignore you. I can even -- oh, so therapeutically -- press a button that flat-out says: "IGNORE." In the old days, I just had to pick up the phone and wince when I realized it was you. That's progress.


  1. I'm with you on this, Chris. I have no social media apps enabled on my phone, and I often turn off the ringer.

    The great lie of the early Internet era was that we'd each be able to customize technology to suit our unique needs. Not many people were cynical enough to predict the immense peer pressure to use social media; the difficulty (or impossibility) of customizing most apps; the expectation of constant availability; the blurring of lines between "work time" and "personal time"; and the mass hypnotism of millions of people by handheld devices that serve as windows on the worst of human behavior. Being yourself, and picking and choosing only the technology that suits you and using it as it suits you, are becoming downright countercultural.

    1. It really is kind of a tide that sweeps us up, isn't it? Oy.