It isn’t anything new that people basically live on their phones these days. Those tiny gadget-bastards have everything on them. EVERYTHING!
Okay, nearly everything. For some reason, nobody has thought to come up with an app that teaches you how to walk as if you still have a pulse while you’re fully enthralled with your phone.
I say it like this for a myriad of reasons:
A) I’m super snarky. It’s like regular snarky, but with a little more salt. And a cape. Can I have a cape already? One damn cape? It doesn’t even have to be dry-clean only! I’m fine with taking it to the laundromat. I’m not asking to be Princess Snark, people. Tiaras cost way more than capes, I know this. Can I just have a cape? Please? (Isn’t there a rule somewhere that if you say “please”, you should automatically get whatever you ask for?)
2) I have to walk around Manhattan on a regular basis, primarily for work. This is not the same Manhattan that we saw in the movies from days of yore. Remember those days? The hustle-and-bustle days, where everybody was in a rush to get somewhere. The days where you could nearly get trampled if you weren’t moving fast enough, and you were slowing people down. People looked up and forward, aware of their surroundings.
These days, it’s not so much hustle-and-bustle as it is slug-and-drug. People are so sucked into their phones, they aren’t even trying to pretend they aren’t. I’m not sure if George Orwell would be laughing, moaning or rolling in his grave if he could see this. It’s not like he didn’t warn us, but would we listen? Noooooo! We’ve become so disconnected to each other in the physical sense, that when a person interrupts us from this bright, colourful screen, we become immediately irate and confrontational.
And I’m not using the royal “we” either, so quit cupping your hand like that. Put it down. You look silly.
I have created for myself an invisible “Fuck Off” wall, and all it took was headphones and a book. I don’t like talking on the phone very much, so I don’t have a cell phone so much as a Walkman that lets me take calls. Admittedly, my brain gets to the point where nothing else exists in the world until I’ve got David Bowie in my ears, at top volume, so that I don’t have to hear any other mortals in my immediate environment. I will press the “Volume” button as if it were linked to a morphine drip, and I was desperate for the pain of the real world to fade away. It’s that important to me.
The one thing I do that I don’t see a lot of other people doing, however, is I will stand to the far side of the path so that I can adjust my phone in whatever way possible, as opposed to those who prefer to stand smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk of 34th and 7th. If a text comes in, and it’s longer than a line, it’s over to the side I go. If I get a phone call, first I assume it’s the wrong number, because who would call me? Then I look at the screen and discover it’s an agency call. I will take the call while walking, but because this is New York City, and I’ve been to a lot of rock concerts without using ear plugs, I find a store I can tuck away into, and do my talking in there.
This doesn’t make me “better than” anyone. I’ve had people ask me if I assume as much, and the answer is always “no”. I don’t generally think in those parameters, because that’s not how I was raised. I say this with the caveat that while I don’t think I’m “better than” anyone, I do have the skill of “courtesy” that was instilled in me at a very young age by both my grandparents and my biological mother. To follow that, I do find myself intolerant of those who don’t afford the same respect.
Orange) I’m a minority. I fully realise that. I don’t think like most people I know. I’m “wired differently” if you will.
Bottom line is this, when you’re putting yourself out into the world where you have to share the air with others, remind yourself that you are, in fact, in the real world, and behave as such. Be present, be aware of your immediate surroundings, your neighbours (walking or otherwise). Try and understand that you may be on your own time, but when you’re walking on the busier sidewalks, at a speed just below “alive”, yeah, you’re going to piss people off. You’re now slowing down their time.
Zombie cell phone walkers are one of my biggest pet peeves. And I’m sure my telling them off for acting like zombies is a huge annoyance for them. We all have our little battles in life.
In the words of Kurt Vonnegut: