On Wednesday night, I was taken to see Eddie Izzard at Beacon Theater. He was incredible, as always, and the experience of going to a show (movie, theater, play, concert) always fills me with uninhibited joy and makes me giddy. However, something interrupted my potentially elated mood, and that was the gentleman in front of me using his iPhone to take a picture of Eddie Izzard during his performance, upload it to Facebook, write decidedly the longest and most obnoxious post ever, and then stare at his phone waiting for others to comment. The only reason he put his phone away was because one of the ushers asked him to. TWICE. Listen, guy – not only is the light from your phone creating a jarring beacon in an already dark theater, but you aren’t even enjoying the fucking show! WATCH THE SHOW! You paid for it, yet you would rather spend 15 minutes posting something to Facebook and waiting for some asshat to reply to your rude ass post than watch this performer entertain you. This idea is beyond comprehension to me.
This is not the only instance of overt rudeness and a lack of etiquette that has resulted from the invention of a tini computer that can fit in your pocket. Recently, I sat down with a newly single friend of mine for drinks at a bar. While attempting to have a conversation with him in person, he was busy on his phone, compulsively checking an app called Grindr (does it really save time to delete one fucking e?!). He pretended to pretend that he was listening to me, occasionally giving some fake apology for being on his phone, and then left the bar in a horny hurry when apparently he found what he was looking for.
Despite the fact that online dating truly freaks me out as a new “thing” (we’ll deal with that in a minute) I felt that this was impossibly rude. Checking your phone over dinner or drinks with friends has become the new way to avoid socializing while at a social gathering. Have we become so dependent on these little machines that we are unable to function in polite society without having to satisfy our obsessive need to check Facebook, Instagram, take a selfie/cellfie (I just vommed in my mouth) of the dinner you’re currently having, and just generally be rude? Why won’t you look me in the eye anymore?!
Let’s tackle the concept of online dating. What happened to taking your chances at a bar, and hoping the person that offers to walk you home isn’t a raging psychopath? Here’s the truth – anyone willing to create an online persona to pick you up is more likely to be insane than the person who is able to be sociable in public. Also, let’s face it, the majority of people who use an online dating service are just looking for a minimum effort way to get easy sex.
Observing someone out in the REAL WORLD is a fantastic opportunity to pick up on subtle hints: are they hitting on everything with a pulse at the bar, or do they have a long game? Are they able to have a conversation, or are they painfully awkward? Are they actually attractive, or are you just desperate? Sure, there are creeps in bars, too. But if you have any wits about you at all, you’ll be able to recognize them, and won’t have spent weeks obsessing over someone’s made-up profile and the fact that some ambiguous algorithm promised you that you’re meant to be. And if you don’t, then maybe you deserve what you get.
Here’s the scariest part. Technology is actually making us dumber. But, how, you ask? How could having quick and easy access to the breadth of information on the interwebs make us less intelligent? Here’s the most recent example that absolutely freaked me out. I was helping my niece with her history homework, and she was asking me questions about Lincoln and the Civil War. Well, it’s not news that I am no history buff – I leave that to the other BroCasters. So, I asked her to get her textbook so we could look up the information together. She didn’t have one. Her fluffy progressive Seattle school had not given her a damn textbook with which to look up information. She went to the computer and started looking it up on Wikipedia. OH THE HUMANITY. I couldn’t handle it. Why on god’s green earth would you not be given a textbook for LEARNING?! She shrugged. The English major in me died inside. Everyone lost, that day, at the battle of Wikidiot.
So, what do we have, so far? People go out for a cultural experience only to ruin the experience for everyone else by having to document it online and brag to their supposed internet friends. Friends go out to catch up only to be inhibited by the attendance of the compulsive online dater or phone checker. Children are growing up in a world without textbooks because they’re “bad for your back” or some other hippy excuse. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US? Are we doomed to get dumber and lazier and less social until the end of time? Are we all one Google Glass away from becoming complete assholes?
So, let me make some suggestions.
When you are out at a show, use that beautiful hippocampus of yours to make memories so that you can tell your friends about it afterwards. Documenting the show can happen outside the theater – take a picture of the marquee before you go inside, or take a weird photo of your friend holding the tickets and an overpriced drink at the theater bar. Leave the show to the professionals, not your smartphone.
When you are out with your friends, do your best to enjoy their company. Yes, it’s tempting to check your phone every five seconds to see who is ruining someone else’s cultural experience or meal with menial updates, but consequently, you’re ruining your social life. And now your friends hate you. Use the phone to contact your friends in order to get them all in one place, and then use that purty mouth of yours for good conversation.
When you are teaching the youth of America, GIVE THEM EMPIRICALLY VALIDATED RESOURCES. Teach them to think critically. In the very least, give them access to an online textbook that has real research in it. Don’t create an entire generation of lazy learners that hate books.
OK kids, that’s my gripe for the weekend. Now, get off your damn computer and go enjoy the sunshine!
This is Kitty, signing out.