i-Phones Anonymous - (Updated with 'Men,Women and Children')

I watched a movie this week called 'Men, Women and Children'. On a personal level I hadn't realised how altered our relationships, society and culture have become as a result of the IT revolution and the affect these changes have brought in less than twenty short years to our humanity.

As a writer it has been awesome to have the capacity to research and write from my bedroom, to self publish on Amazon, to be instantly in touch with my friends all around the world. And to be rescued from the desert heat after my Kombi van caught fire by making an emergency call on my mobile phone would have me singing the praises of God and Telstra. But what is the real price for this technology?

I think Jason Reitman who wrote the screenplay and directed 'Men, Women and Children' touches on the edge of the reality of where big chunks of our society are at, as a result of this new age. Some parts of this film will be disturbing to many but Truth often has that way of shaking off the blinkers of how we think life really is.

Since watching the film I have been left to ponder my own existence and observe how my life has changed in my so-called wisdom years. The first thing I realise is that I've hardly picked up a guitar for six months. I'm young enough to remember when television came into our lounge rooms for the first time. Families stopped walking around the streets of their neighbourhood after dinner and talking to the friends. My family no longer went down town on a Friday or Saturday night to a cafe for a meal that was followed up by going to a double feature movie at the Regent Theatre, where we would meet up with hundreds of other people who were doing the same thing. But we did all sit together around the TV in the lounge room with some of our neighbours and watch some old black and white film.

Many social observers predicted at the time that television was the beginning of the end for human relationships. As I honestly take a look at how my own extended family now relates, I can see that I am surrounded by the symptoms of the 'dis-ease' that Reitman alludes to in his film. It kind of makes me melancholic for those adventurous hours spent roaming the woods and the old west with Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, the Cartwright brothers, Kemo Sabe and Rowdy Yates.

                                            Opening credits from Bonanza (the Cartwright Bros.)

**The following is my original blog from March 2012

Cartoon: Mobile Phone Addiction

Mobile phone addiction
This cartoon by Andy Davey from The Sun relates to research that shows thatsmartphones have turned Britain into a nation of mobile addicts. Regulator Ofcom found that 60 per cent of teenagers and more than a third of adults are 'highly addicted' to using their mobile phones. Read more >>
The cartoon shows young people in a park. They are all on their mobile phones. The boy and girl in the foreground are actually speaking to each other on their phones. The joke is that they don't realize how addicted they are.
OMG stands for Oh My God, and LOL for Laughing Out Loud. Both are examples of SMS language or Textese (also known as text-speak ). 

When Jo and I were in England last weekend I (we) could not help but notice how many individuals whether alone, in pairs or groups, young, old, teenagers, pre-schoolers, bus drivers, drug dealers, men, women, magicians, magicianesses, walking, running, sitting, reading, waiting, sneezing, sleeping or heaven forbid having a conversation with a real person in their vicinity, had a mobile phone attached to their head or fingertips, all with that far away look of disconnection to their environment, in their eyes. This is not a criticism only an observation.  
We have been really slack since living in Switzerland when it comes to 'mobile' technology. Jo never has her i-phone 3 charged and my 2005 Nokia N70 (Young kids often ask my what it is. I don't think they believe me when I tell them it's my mobile.) pre-paid is usually out of credit or I have left it in one of my other jacket pockets. And this attitude has been freeing in many ways, not only from the financial angle but from a personal independence and self assured perspective also.

So as we sat on the train and I watched the new behaviours attached to this highly necessary social phenomena, as people grabbed for someone else's ring tone or message beep or continually scrolled through contact names, messages, missed calls or road maps they may need when next crossing the Sahara Desert, I tried to think how I could compassionately look at this situation, this new form of addiction that so nicely complements other established forms of distraction, in a helpful way, and I came up with this poem:

I-phones Anonymous.... You have been placed in a queue... please hold............
I forgot my flippin’ i-phone
And I’m starting to sweat
Maybe I’ve missed a call
A message at least I bet
And how am I going to twitter
I could really go a tweet
Or talk with my poor old mum
You know I call her every week
What if I miss out on a new app
And Jimmy gets it before me
He’ll text me every day for weeks
And that would outright bore me
What’s the up to date score
Between City and United
If Manchester gets up and wins
I know who’ll be totally shited
Apple, they might do an upgrade
And I’ll be left outside the door
Jimmy’ll be bragging about his five
And I’ll be stranded with my four
This is so bad, a disaster
I’ve never been this stressed
Except when I was stuck without signal
During last year's Boxing Day test
Now I’m thirsty and tired
And it’s only been two minutes
If I was live on ‘Millionaire’
I couldn’t phone home to win it
Is it Wednesday or Sunday
I don’t even know the date
Or the temperature, will it rain
Is my train running late
Okay I finally admit it
I’m hooked on a dial tone for all money
In desperation I finally scream
“Can you bring my phone to the loo please honey?”
(c) Rob Swales 2012


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