Gadget Addiction – The Life Inside My Screen
By Alan Forrest Smith: May 30th 2016
I’m sitting in a cafe. The sun shines, there’s no wind and I am surrounded by strangers. My darling wife is sitting to my left. She is holding my arm like she always holds my arm. She looks at me while I am sitting saying nothing secretly looking around from behind my sunglasses.
Opposite me is a man with a small boy. The small boy keeps asking his young father questions. The small boy keeps pulling at his father. The child raises his voice and begins to make demands on his father. His father though is busy. The child wants to talk, the father wants to stare into his small screen. The child wants to play, the father keeps pushing an iPad into the childs hand. The child is bored while the father is trying to be part of another life somewhere else while his own life has become invisible to him.
There are a young couple at the last table to my right. She stares at her screen. Her face is motionless. He stares at his small screen and his face is also motionless. Now and then she takes her phone and puts it in front of her lover only to be ignored as he as transfixed in one position whilst staring into the life that he isn’t living. I do wonder what can be the future for a couple like that or is this the new normal?
A mother walks by pushing a buggy with a baby inside while her son of maybe two years old runs perilously close to the edge of the road. Her phone is held in front of her not to her ear. I don’t know but it looks like by her expression she is doing video call with someone somewhere as she pushes the buggy. I don’t think she see’s how close her child is to the road. She’s inside another life right now.
This moment is all about being somewhere else rather than being here right now and almost everyone in this small cafe right now is sitting and staring into a small screen rather than the yes of their lover or the sun filled skies above them.
There is a huge tree just opposite. The tree is an Oak. The tree is a mighty Oak. “I stand here for centuries giving you breath. I carry the burden and weight of thoughts into my heart while you no longer look at me. Look to my branches, I am filled with life. I house the animals and ask for nothing. I feed the skies and ask for nothing. I support humanity and ask for nothing. Years before now your children would come to me, touch my thick skin, look at me in wonder, press their heart against mine and watch the clouds drift over my crown. I asked for nothing yet they knew my name and love my life. I stand in silence as I watch humanity staring into the life inside their screens whilst the life is here outside. They knew me, they knew who I was, the loved my limbs. I am the Oak, I am the tree and I can be life yet you no longer share with wisdom with your children.”
If only a tree could speak about the things he observes. This tree has seen kings, queens, wars and even centuries yet what do you see? The dog isn’t seen, neither is the squirrel. The lover isn’t seen, neither is the man sitting alone. The small yellow flower that shares its smell freely is no loner smelt, is no longer touch is no longer seen. Where is humanity I think to myself. Not here and not there but trying to be part of a life inside the small screen.
The small screen is a detacher. It takes the fixed and detaches but never reattaches it to anything apart from what is seen. Yet what is seen in a photo is rarely part of reality. Even the man that kills another man can smile before that moment. The photo can look like a place of peace yet just moments later his crime takes place. Even a stunning location can look stunning in a photo yet once zoomed out the location can be seen to be a place next to a car filled road or a pollution filled city.
The screen and life inside the screen isn’t a reality yet most desire to be part of something else. This means we have to detach from the life we have in that moment only to become transfixed onto a life that rarely exists in reality. If it doesn’t exist our desire is to be part of the impossible. If that is the case does this mean we are not happy in the life we are living and been giving? No not really it actually means we have been given a distraction that is now cutting into our daily life, distracting our daily life and taking time which is life from our daily life. The life inside our scene does something even more damaging. It degrades the capacity for self creating thoughts, for visions, for intuition and choice based on knowledge. If we need to know something today we no longer try and work it out. We no longer take the problem as an intuitive challenge and fix that problem. We simply ‘Google it’ and wait for the answer.
Yet Google is a brand name that has been programmed by humans that have built in algorithms that are a long long way from the power of the human mind. So surrendering our choice and allowing a man-made software to supply us with an answer that we will rarely question as true or false. Yet the old Oak still cries out for attention whilst children are no longer taken to the old Oak for life but are forced fed a diet of streamed life while adults transfix on a life inside their screens.
Today I sat at the cafe for around 2-hours. We looked into the sunshine, drank coffee until our hearts raced, held hands, kissed and even had transfixed moments into the life inside our own small screen. One man in the middle of the coffee shop has barely moved. His body barely moved. His head barely moved. His eyes barely moved. The only part of him that has moved for two hours is his right middle finger. This is the only finger that is erect while his other four fingers are neatly tucked into his palm. He scrolls and scrolls and scrolls and scrolls. Is this the new world of degraded humanity that desires nothing more than the life inside their screens?
Just a thought.
Alan Forrest Smith