I used to think computers were going to move inside our heads in a neural interface eventually, and our visual field was going to be overlaid with a scrolling opaque cross section of my Facebook news feed and the spam folder in my Gmail account.
I’ve changed my mind about that.
My money is now on smartphones.
Last September I didn’t own a smartphone.
I didn’t even own a cellphone. I had a landline. You know, those quaint, often dust-laden plastic units that sit in one barely trafficked corner of your apartment and only ring when you are being offered a cheap trip to Mexico under the guise of collecting free airmails points, or somebody from an asian subcontinent is doing a very poor job of hiding his accent while trying to tell you how to fix Microsoft Windows for a small fee? (Those latter scams only work, by the way, on landlines. Anyone with a smartphone is too tech-saavy to fall for it.)
Then I moved to the city, dumped the landline like any good latter day yuppie, and found a guy who was willing to trade me a new Samsung Galaxy Ace ii for two very old computers I had in stock: one mac that was so far down on the food chain it did at times have a habit of eating itself for want of anything else, and an Acer netbook that I bet even Acer would deny being the progenitor of. That baby was my lemon-in-waiting, and I’m certain the salespeople giggled for an hour after I waltzed out the store with it having left 300 bucks on their counter.
The Galaxy Ace ii is an entry level phone. 2 gigs of internal memory, single core processor, Android Jellybean. It had all the bells and whistles, but half of them didn’t work. And yet, having just moved from analog to digital I was delighted. I learned how to text. A simple “hello how r u?” could take me ten minutes, and with my farmer’s fingers often got sent as a “jello gow t i?” But my friends got the idea. I was a newbie. I would improve. Three months into these agonizingly misspelled texts I got wise and downloaded a big button keypad and eliminated the worst of the errors, even though I’m still slow at it. I liked having all my contacts in my phone, and a calendar to remind of important dates, and soothing chimes to wake me up instead of the radio, which always leaves me clinging to the light fixture above my bed, no matter how soft and gentle the song. For wallpaper I chose the Doctor Who Tardis racing through the time vortex, or spinning galaxies. There is no Flappy Bird for Android, but there is Flup! which is the fish version. I never made it past the third post. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about you better prepare yourself for the coming apocalypse. Smart phones, not zombies, are going to take over the world.
This, of course, is meant to be funny. Amusing. Slightly self-deprecating satire.
Except it isn’t. Not really. A few months after I entered the intriguing world of apps that speed up your processor fan to blow out birthday candles and flash a screen shot of Linda Blair in full demon kit five seconds after you pass your friend your phone something weird began to happen. (Weirder than a person too lazy and desensitized to understand the mythic significance of blowing out your own damn candles. ) I began to have dreams.
Dreams about my phone.
In all of them I had either lost my phone, or accidentally destroyed it, and my anguish was great. This was not the simple dream-anguish of burning your shirt. Or dropping money. Or losing your I.D. when you have an important appointment coming up. I’ve been having dreams like that all my life, and I call them “Dreams of Annoyance.” They are uncomfortable, for in the dream whatever I’ve lost or broken seems irreplaceable, and I limp around in my dreamscape like some hobbled semi-divine blacksmith disgraced before a table of laughing Gods and Goddesses. No. These are real nightmares, My terror is palpable. It is all out of proportion. In my latest dream I had placed my phone in my shoe, and then went wading in the water. I realized too late, and the phone was ruined. I woke up sobbing, and thrashing the air with my arms.
I can’t remember the last time I did that, and then possibly over the dream-death of my mother, or something worse. I’m convinced somehow that the interface-informational constructs in the phone are somehow fusing with the interface-informational constructs in my brain. They are both based, after all, on Android-like systems. I’m serious here. Unlike my laptop, the smart phone is closer to my face, with me all the time, and has become my eyes and ears more reliable and acute than my actual eyes and ears. Today my friend and I were looking for a Chinese place we used to visit and I told her that according to Yelp it had gone out of business. She pulled into the parking-lot to make sure. I didn’t even look up at the abandoned shop. My phone said it was closed, so it was closed. What did I need non-digital confirmation for? It was a waste of internal resources.
I wish I could explain better why I think the technology of cell phones are psychically invading us, altering our perceptions, reorganizing and influencing informational patterns in our brain, but I can’t. And yet at the same time I believe they are. My answer to this? Six months after I bought it I clue in that my Ace ii is, like, so totally Grade Seven. I sold it for a $100 bucks and got a brand new Nexus today. Cleaner interface, faster processor, bigger screen, more internal memory- swifter, neater, smoother, prettier. All the things I used to look for in a boyfriend I now look for in a cellphone.
God knows what will happen when I dream-drop this one in the drink and ruin it.
Heart attack likely. It will be the first death-by-smartphone on record. Though not, if my theory is correct, the last.