Outside my living room window a woman walks down the sidewalk while typing on her smartphone. Another woman jogs by with her dog in one hand and her smartphone in the other. A group of kids walk past with their backpacks on, all on their smartphones. There is traffic on the two-lane street in front of my house. Cars are backed up from the stoplight. In every single car, I notice someone is on their smartphone. Last night when I was at dinner with my wife, almost everyone in the large restaurant was on their smartphone, dozens of dulled faces lit up by their smartphone screens. Since when did all of this become socially acceptable? How did it happen so fast? Something is happening here and I don’t think it’s as benevolent as all of us seem to naively think.
Spend some time just sitting on a city bench, watching people pass by. Notice how almost every single one of them is glued to their smartphone. Is this a healthy thing? Look around as you drive on the freeway and look at how many people are trying to fit in small hits from their smartphone screen as they drive. We can’t even be alone in-between wherever we are heading from and to without checking our smartphones. Near my home and older couple and their dog was killed the other night by a car while walking. They were killed while crossing the street in a crosswalk. I am certain that the driver who hit them was on a smartphone.
The smartphone apocalypse is here. It has happened. In our collective imaginations, we hoped for the zombie apocalypse and what we got is really not that different. I don’t know much about zombies but I know one when I see one. Have you observed what people look like when on their smartphones? Zombies. The kind of zombies we are turned into by our smartphones are not the kind who want to eat the flesh of other humans. No. Not yet at least. The kind of zombies that smartphones turn us into are the kinds who wander the earth without soul. We become empty, mechanical vessels; not that different from smartphones.
I realize that saying smartphones turn us into empty, mechanical vessels devoid of soul is a grand statement to make, but just because it is grand or cliché does not devalue its inherent truth. Have you spent time with someone who is on their smartphone a lot? How much substance was present in the interaction? Was there any interaction at all? This is often a good way to test for the presence or absence of soul.
Children are soulful because they are present. As a result they are fully alive. The less present we become, the less soulful we are. By present I mean in tune with our lives as life is happening. In tune with our sensory experience as we experience it. In tune with the people around us. In tune with the experiences that we are having as we have them. Being on a smartphone almost always interrupts this process. We become out of tune with the experiences we are having. Out of tune with the environments we are in. It is fine to be out of tune every so often but being out of tune with our lives as we live them all the time, continually interrupted by a digital screen, we often end up zombie like. We lose touch with the soil from which the soul grows and sustains itself- our moment by moment lives (not our smartphones).
Being on or connected to a smartphone all day and night is really no different from watching television. We are really just watching a different version of television as we walk down the street or drive our cars. This kind of television is more interactive and allows us to communicate with people we know and find information we think we need but really don’t. But it is still watching television. Smartphones are the evolution of entertainment. Us humans have found a way to interact with our entertainment and be entertained all the time. We have found a way to induce small zaps of dopamine as we make our way through our lives. In a sense, smartphones are a brilliant form of adaptation to an overly stress-filled and crowded environment. But what happens to a society when everyone is addicted to being entertained all the time? When they cannot drive from point A to point B without a hit of entertainment? Isn’t this when a destructive dictator can rise up and seize control? Isn’t this when terrible things start happening but no one sees what is happening? We are all too distracted to perceive what is happening around us. It is usually only after there is some great catastrophe that humans wake up and think, What the hell happened? Was I apart of that? I didn’t even realize it was happening. We end up with a society of people who are completely ADD afflicted and out of touch (ironically). Totally fragmented and detached from the lives they are living in the present moment. The real consequences of this are beyond or ability to perceive currently, but I have a feeling that the election of Donald Trump as President and the immense amount of prescription psychiatric medications people are taking, is just the beginning. The smartphone apocalypse will make the consequences of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day appear so small in comparison.
I believe that the smartphone apocalypse is a massive catastrophe. It is the largest epidemic that humanity has ever been stricken with and the strange thing is that no one is talking about it. The smartphone apocalypse is completely rearranging the way our brains work and our lives unfold. Yet everyone thinks that these smartphones are the most benevolent and wonderful little things ever to be offered to humans. Suckers. The truth is that our smartphones are gradually becoming a part of us. They are becoming like a third arm or a second heart. Don’t believe me? Try spending two days away from your smartphone and you will experience serious withdrawals. You will feel lost and confused. You will continually feel like you are missing something. Because of this, it is not long until smartphones become implanted devices. And what is even more frightening is that so many people/zombies think this is a good idea.
Isn’t this how the zombification works? Another zombie bites us and their zombie fluid become a part of us. Gradually we turn into a zombie because the zombie virus or fluid is a part of us. Smartphones have made themselves a part of us. We have literally fallen more in love with them then the most important person in our lives. We can’t be without our smartphones even when we sit on the toilet. We need to check on them all the time, mostly for no reason other than to just be entertained. We have become completely possessed by our smartphones and as a result smartphones have become us.