Smart phones are ubiquitous, especially among our enlightened youth. They are in their hands during every waking moment, and more often then not these poorly socialized drones have their heads buried in the screens…frantically looking for the next text, the next TikTok, the next “swipe right,” (or is it left?), but curiously they almost never actually talk on those phones, preferring the less intimate communication of the text over actually speaking to another human being.
This is a short, powerful video about how corrosive these machines are to a functioning society, and well worth a watch. Hell, it’s only three minutes. I do recommend seeking out his other, longer interviews…the man understands what ails us.
What resonates with me is that he understands that it is just…rude! If you sit down at my dinner table and pull out your cell phone, that is an immediate signal that you have contempt for me, the work I did, my home, and my other guests. And that includes dining out at a restaurant. The purpose of communal meals is not to consume fuel…it is to socialize with people! We make and maintain and deepen emotional connections that are vital, and there is simply no substitute for these interactions. By diluting them with the attention paid to the stupid little screen in your hand you retard your emotional and intellectual growth, and insult the people around you! There is no situation short of an emergency that requires a cell phone at the dinner table.
The explicit message is that the short-term and fleeting pleasure of knowing the current score of the game or getting a stupid text from an acquaintance or watching a five-second Instagram video is more important than the flesh-and-blood people at your elbow.
Couple the mania of the smart phone with the social dislocation and disruption of the Covid insanity and we have a perfect storm of the degradation of social discourse and the delay in learning vital social clues and techniques. We see it in on these pages when comments that seemed benign to the writer are interpreted or misinterpreted by readers as very, very different. That almost never happens in person or even in voice calls because of the many subtle clues provided by tone, volume, posture, expression, etc.
Unfortunately there is no cure for for this sickness. Sure, I can tell people to put their damned phones down at my dinner table! But our society as a whole has lost the ability to shame or pressure people to do what is polite and socially correct. And just to complete the image of a curmudgeon yelling, “Get off my lawn!” It really is for their own good…