My atavistic trip back into the real world for a week.

Lost my iPhone—it apparently slipped between the seats in an Uber and is forever lost in the bowels of a Toyota—and took nearly a week to get a new one. It was our sole connection to the internet, as I’d put away the desktop when I realized that my epileptic hypergraphia was out of control and my brain a sizzling, sputtering epileptic mess—basically, I was losing it—and figured that an iPhone would help contain the problem. It has, for the most part, with only occasional lurches into hypergraphia and other charming intra-ictal personality traits. Anyway, I was frantic for a few hours after losing the phone, it’s like our entire lives were on it, then it dawned on me that I didn’t actually need the internet right away for anything. I began to thoroughly enjoy not having a digital existence. Suddenly all these projects around here got completed. More reading got done. Instead of Twitter and Facebook and whatever it is that men do on the internet I was watching old movies. Didn’t write one fucking sentence, the spigot had been turned off. It was quite terrific. 

Then late yesterday afternoon a lovely little thing in a postal uniform knocked on the door. She looked just like the messengers who are always delivering telegrams at just the wrong times in old movies, except you don’t tip them. Your phone, sir. I thanked her, signed, sighed and opened the box. Spent the next hour trying to maneuver through the tortuous maze Apple forces those among us who do not have any other Apple devices handy to wend our way through to turn the fucking thing on (now that was a sentence, I must be out of shape.) Then spent the next couple hours downloading all the apps that control our lives—I had made a list ahead of time that had them in order and checked them off one by one, like a good secretary. Then I looked at Facebook but couldn’t get into it. Looked at Twitter but it was all massacres and death. Email was just email. Even my blogs failed to spark. Nothing on the little screen sparked, none of my usual digital haunts. It all seemed so, uh, lifeless. Two dimensional. Too digital. So I put it down.

But here I am again.

Sigh….

Sent from my fucking iPhone.

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Zen

Emerging from Griffith Park, the stoned lady forget to press the button at the crosswalk, though she never noticed the difference as she walked across Los Feliz Blvd staring at her iPhone. The traffic stopped and blew their horns in admiration. The lady never noticed.

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Harvey

You see, science has overcome time and space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time and space — but any objections! 

Elwood P Dowd, Harvey 

Facebook exists outside of time. It’s like the past and present are one. A story ten years old will be posted and commented on as if it’s happening right now. Yesterday I saw a thirty year old story that people assumed was new. I politely pointed this out. The commenters didn’t see the point. Thirty years ago or now, it didn’t matter. Forget it Jake, it’s Facebook time.

I keep seeing hoaxes and urban myths reappear. They  invariably are believed, often by the same people who knew they were hoaxes years ago when they went around via email. But email was a different universe. Different laws of physics. Time was sequential then. Email was how we communicated on the Internet, and the Internet was virtual reality. It followed the rules of reality. There was a then and a now, and what was then could not suddenly be now. People noticed.

People don’t notice now. And even if they do, they don’t care. They just hit the Like button. There’s time and there’s the like button. Liking trumps temporal reality every time. Facebook is becoming a whole other reality, devoid of linear time, devoid of objective truth, devoid of any standards of accuracy whatsoever. People will believe anything they see, and whatever is posted becomes reality, though only in Facebook. You repeat a Facebook story at a party and somebody will go to Snopes and make you look stupid. Someone else will go to Wikipedia and make you look stupider. There’ll be an orgy of smartphone fact checking at your expense. You’re not on Facebook anymore. Reality is harsh, real time is linear, and people can be rude, cruel and brutally sarcastic. They laugh, you turn red and retreat into the security of your iPhone. At Brick’s party, you post, surrounded by a**holes.

Sometimes I think that the Internet made people much more informed than they had ever been, and Facebook is rendering us all stupid again. But then again, Facebook is nicer. Pleasant, even. No one  trolls, and no one’s an a**hole.

Years ago my mother used to say to me, “Elwood, in this world you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Elwood P Dowd, Harvey  

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