Tuesday, July 6, 2010

And He and his Kin lived Happily Ever After

I think that the following are fair assumptions, based on my observation of people who seem to be obsessive-compulsive when it comes to using their cell phones in public places:

1. Cell phones, far from making life "easier" or "more fun," simply create more work. It's been years since I first heard a person complain "Now that I have a cell phone, I'm on call 24/7!" and then gave me a dirty look when I asked why they

A. Had a cell phone, if they wanted to be out of contact, or
B. Had a cell phone they did not know how to turn off, or
C. Felt that just because they received a call or text on their cell phone, they were compelled to answer it (has Voice Mail ever achieved the same usefulness as an Answering Machine? Apparently not.)

(Actual quote from my twenty-something niece: "the problem with texts are, you have to answer them.")

2. FaceBook, far from being a fun distraction from the real world and a new way to engage in "Social Networking," has become a time-sucking obsession for people who are convinced that

A. If they note what they are doing, someone, somewhere, will care, or
B. If they throw themselves at the mercy of the World Wide Web, one of the other 5 billion people out there will find them interesting enough to want to talk to them, or
C. If they spend enough time on FaceBook, they will somehow convince themselves that they have this really cool life which includes lots of friends and fun.

Assuming these two things, I have to make one more assumption about anyone who would buy a KIN, this new gadget which combines the obnoxiousness of the cell phone with the fantasy life offered by FaceBook: Judging from how long this idiot spends scrolling through photographs, maps, contact lists, etc without ever actually accomplishing anything of value other than managing to avoid eye contact with his fellow carbon-based life forms and developing a crick in his neck, I believe that it's reasonable to conclude that the photographs shown on the screen (especially the one of the girl at the beach, which appears in multiple ads) of people having fun dancing, hiking, mugging for the camera, etc. are all pre-loaded. Because there is simply no way that anyone who owns one of these stupid things actually knows any of these people or does any of this stuff. What the KIN offers is another element for the weird parallel universe some people began to live in when they realized that no matter how many times it was updated, The Sims just didn't cut it for them. FaceBook allows one to indulge in the seductive fantasy of popularity- "look how many friends I have"- without fear of rejection or loss. KIN takes it a step further, making it easy for you to take your FaceBook with you, so there's no excuse for you to not update it constantly with photographs of random people doing random things, with whom you can now claim to have a strong interpersonal bond.

It's only a matter of time before we hear someone complain "Now that I have a KIN, I have to add to my FaceBook page 24/7!" But don't worry about answering- they aren't really talking to you, they are just repeating what they just texted onto the internet. Because really, if they wanted to start a conversation with you, they might have to look up sometimes. Can't have that.

Kind of odd, though: if the guy in the AT&T Commercial hadn't looked away from his phone for two seconds, he would never have met his destiny and we would never have been blessed with their offspring, the 57th President of the United States. Now I don't know what to believe.


  1. It's ads like this that keep on reminding me of the story "The Machine Stops"; we have the same dependency on gadgetry and the same smug disconnection from the real world. I just hope we don't end up with the same ending.

  2. In Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," people of above-average intelligence were forced to wear a handicap that constantly emitted random noises in order to prevent a coherent train of thought, so they'd be equal to everyone else. Now people line up to buy their handicaps, voluntarily. And most of the idjits I see talking on cell phones really can't *afford* to be handicapped, if you know what I mean.

  3. There's a new commercial highlighting signal strength, where a girl is tapping away at her stupid little keypad while strolling down the street as buildings convert themselves into signal boosters for her convenience. The best possible ending for such a commercial would be seeing the idiot walk right into a speeding bus.