I’m losing touch with reality. Not in the psychological sense in which I might find myself helping the Pentagon crack encrypted enemy telecommunication or facing off against Batman while wearing awful clown makeup and a greasy green wig.
No, it’s much more serious than that: I’m losing touch with the world because I’m being sucked into the world of digital reality.
I’ve recently calculated that between my job, my down time, moonlighting projects, phone time and TV time, I spend about 12 hours a day looking at some sort of a LCD screen. Sometimes more.
The breaking point came when I got my iPhone.
Now, you more financially conservative readers might be asking yourself in a critical tone, “What does a 22-year-old kid just out of college with a wife and student loans and rental payments need with an overpriced telephone?”
“And,” you might add, “doesn’t he at least know enough to capitalize the first letter of a proper noun?”
Let me assure you that the phone was much cheaper with a two-year contract, and I only got it for work-related purposes and because it’s a really, really neat toy.
As for the choice of capitalization, ask the Apple company. Apparently it thinks an ordinary word becomes magical by adding a lower-case “i” to the front. (You know, iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac, iFridge, iCar, iCandy, iNuke, iAmTheWalrus, etc.)
You may remember fellow columnist Shelley Plett recently wrote about her new iPad and all the time-sucking bells and whistles it has.
Well, the iPhone is basically the same thing except it fits in your pocket, so instead of being a distraction whenever you happen to have it lying around, it’s a distraction every waking moment. (And some of the snoozing ones, too.)
This phone has easy Internet access and the ability to download as many games as I can handle. Not to mention this free GPS app called Waze, which not only turns the phone into a navigation system, but its users can update road conditions in real time to alert nearby drivers to bad traffic, weather conditions and detours.
And then there’s Siri, the tiny omniscient woman who lives in my phone.
I’ll ask, “Siri, where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” and she’ll show me a list and say, “I found two Italian restaurants a little ways from you.”
Or I can say, “Call Hanna,” and Siri will make the connection.
Or I can say, “Siri, I love you,” and she’ll say, “Oh, stop.” (I’m not kidding.)
Even though I’m just now getting around to admitting that I might have a problem with gadgets, the signs have been cropping up for years. In fact, when I’m sleeping, before all my dreams begin I see a little blue progress bar.
OK, that’s just a joke.
But I’m not kidding when I tell you that I went to the bathroom mirror the other day and was momentarily confused when I couldn’t find the little white arrow cursor to pick up my toothbrush.
And, after becoming used to the Dish Network DVR system, several times a week I catch myself trying to rewind or pause something that happens in real life.
I’m not sure if there are support groups for people like me, people who in one way or another find themselves living almost exclusively on glowing pixels. But I am prepared to take the steps to monitor my monitor time and exist within the realms of actual reality.
How? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll ask Siri. She cares.
You can reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.