The other night I did one of my favorite things, and watched an old black & white movie on Turner Classic Movies. It took place in the 1960’s. In the movie, the lead character just kind of disappeared. He needed to clear his head, so he left a business meeting, and wasn’t heard from for a week. Everybody was wondering, “Where is he?” And his co-workers had to make all these excuses to cover for him. Nobody knew where he was! And no one could do anything about it. That was the whole beauty of it. It made me think about modern times and how were so accessible all the time. The phone is always by our side, like it’s a significant other. People go on it while their driving, taking a shower, and take it to the beach with them. You can barely watch a TV show nowadays that isn’t ASKING YOU go on your phone for one reason or another. I don’t want to hold my phone, I should be able to hold the remote in one hand, and have my hand down my pants with the other hand if I feel inclined. I feel like I’m constantly telling my younger family members “put your phone away, enjoy your family”. They look at me like I’m 100 years old. But I really feel like it’s the best advice I can give them. It’s really amazing if you look at people, they’re always touching their phone, fondling their phone, playing with their phone. Hell that old Blackberry actually had that little button on it that looked like a clit. There was that little round button on the Blackberry Pearl, and I used to play it with it all the time. Coincidence??? I think not…
I see it all the time in public. Walking into some dummy on the sidewalk because she can’t be bothered to look up is a constant thing in Center City. A girlfriends mother or best friend has to be invited into my bed because they decided to start a text message conversation with her on her phone, which is never far. It’s our new best friend, the telephone. It’s crazy. People would rather look at their phone then other people it seems like. Consider that in one state they had to make a law, and a street sign that says to pay attention and not text when you cross the street. You know, the street with the moving vehicles that will kill you. Because I’m one of the crazy people who doesn’t walk around with my face buried in my phone, I’m able to make these observations about people. Are there days I would like to bury my head in the sand, and not bare witness to the often depressing reality city life has to offer? Sure. But I make it a point to suffer through it, and be conscious. I’ve probably taken the subway a thousand times in my life, and I’m always shocked when I see how many people spend the entire half hour ride with their eyes glued to their phone, not lifting their head up a single time. Oblivious to every danger, everything. It’s amazing these walking targets for robbery don’t miss their stops.
I’m barely old enough to remember when having a long distance relationship was still a challenge. You actually got to miss the person you loved. And that’s not always the worst thing in the world. Sometimes you would go a day or two without talking, but then if you had chemistry, you picked up right where you left off. Now, you take too long to answer a text, or maybe a call doesn’t go through, and its grounds for a breakup. Everything comes into question. When I was growing up, there wasn’t any facebook, or video chatting, or texting and there definitely wasn’t any sexting…but people still dated, people still got laid, and people still lived their lives pretty happily.
It’s amazing how our culture has changed to the point that now everybody expects you to be accessible to them all the time, and if you aren’t, they take it extremely personal. And forget about getting away and unplugging for a weekend without someone feeling slighted. I spent a weekend with a girlfriend years ago, and we did what we always did once inside and back from dinner or wherever we spent the night out at: shut off the outside world, focused on each other. Really focused. Well during this, a girl that you could barely call a friend of mine by this point decided that she needed to ask me something. Needed to talk to me. It was urgent. What made it urgent? Nothing, except she expected me to be as available to her as someone I’m with physically. I was busy, so her texts and calls got ignored. Even after explaining this to her after, I got labeled as being a uncaring jerk. If that isn’t bad enough, I’ve also had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of someone’s needy fits dressing me down while I was busy in an ICU with a person who was dying. I’ve even had the awkward pleasure of getting sexts during a family dinner. It used to be that if you called somebody late at night, it was no big deal, you’d leave a voicemail message or something, or the phone would just ring. Now you could receive a text at midnight, while you are going to sleep or are already asleep, and they actually expect you to text back. And they’re not just saying hello or checking in; they expect you to text back and converse with them. I shouldn’t have to shut my volume off and miss emergency phone calls because I don’t want to be woken up at 3 AM from drunk phone calls.
One of the best things about traveling to other countries, for me, is the fact that you can’t use your phone, unless you pay for some special data plan. I never do that. Why would anyone? Not having a phone is one of the best things about the vacation. I couldn’t believe when I was on a cruise ship in Bermuda, that here was a lounge set up where people were paying by minute to sit on a computer and go on Facebook. Think about it. These people were paying thousands of dollars to go to one of the most beautiful places in the world, and they were sitting in a lounge paying to click around on Facebook and scroll through the exact same stream of mindless statuses, and cliché quotes on their Newsfeed they could see every other day of their lives.
Everything about the way people communicate with each other now is so impersonal. Group text messages? I’m deleting your number. Snapchatting? And everyone’s had this awesome conversation. “Yo, Hey, Yo, Hey, Whats up, Nothing, Whats up? Not much. You? Nothing.” Then they get bored and find someone else to talk to and inevitably have that same conversation with. And I’ve seen from being Facebook friends with younger people, boys don’t genuinely compliment girls anymore, they “like” their picture, or type a word, an emoji, or several dozen emoji’s with no words. It’s practically a different language at this point. It used to take one real compliment to flatter someone. Now what does it take? 50 likes? 100? I remember I used to have to actually, you know, approach girls when I was that age. And think of something clever. And be genuine. And that was fucking scary. But I did it. And I was better for it. Boys nowadays have it too easy. Then again, I can’t even imagine how bad I would have embarrassed myself “liking” everything on Amber Renzi’s Facebook had it been around at the height of my grade school crushing. Stalker much?
I realize some people really do have nothing better to do then sit around on their iPhone all day and answer texts right as they come, play Words with friends, poke people, and take selfies until their hands bleed. They won’t understand any of this. But these deadbeats, the guys at least, have only ever made it harder for me, because they’ve made women think it’s somehow normal to be how THEY are, and because I work, and I just don’t have the free time that they do. I’m the odd one, I guess. Women will tell you they want a guy who has his life together, has a family, has a life, has a job, has ambitions. But then the very same ones will act like they also want and expect a guy who is at their beck and call 24/7 via the cell phone to feed their neediness, give them lots of digital attention and love, and not a moment too late. The reality is: They can’t have both.
I’m not saying I don’t like being able to connect with people and communicate with people. I love that. I’ve met so many great new people, and reconnected with so many people I thought I’d never see again its insane. But take me back to the good old days at least every now and then when you’re not accessible and you can just say, “fuck it” and just disappear for awhile, alone or with the one you love. That’s what I like to do. Take me back to those days.
– Nick Dee