It’s NEW!  I Guess, that means.. I need It?

These next few weeks if you plan to go to the mall, you might see a volley of iPhone 5 ravenously hungry customers wrapped around the Apple stores. Opening weekend, Apple sold $5 million iPhone 5’s in three days and according to Barclays, Apple may sell 45.2 million iPhones in the December quarter and 170.7 million through next September. My question is, why?! Ok, so my knowledge of the new phone extends to a small excerpt I listened to on Conan O’ Brien the other day where a gadget expert said the biggest difference between this one and the old phone is it’s thinner, has a bigger screen, a panoramic camera and is much quicker.  I get that it’s technologically more advanced than the last, as was the one before, and the one before, but just because it’s new doesn’t mean we need it.  Not to say I don’t own things I don’t need, but the problem is not in having things you want and don’t need, the problem is we are becoming numbingly comfortable with the excessiveness of the things we don’t need at the cost of the things we do.

We are nurturing our obsessive like relationships with technology over our relationship with others and worst off, ourselves. Now, I’m not one of those people who’s completely adverse to technology, and think things would be better if we went back to “snail mail” times; I just think we have abandoned some much needed balance and have confused movement for progress. One of the main reasons many of the great empires of the world fell were because they were technologically and industrially advancing faster than the emotional and psychological human development.

Once upon a time, the wait to get a message from a love one or friend would take as long as weeks or even months, which means patience, faithfulness and the integrity of one’s word was crucial, because you had one time to leave that impression and express a sentiment before you would get a reply. Even before cell phones, when landlines were all we had, if you told someone you were meeting them somewhere, you’d have to be sure, because once you or they left the house there was no way to re-schedule or be late without looking tacky or inconsiderate.  Lucky or maybe unlucky for us, we live in an age where you can get a reply or change your plans within seconds. So what I don’t get, is if we’ve decreased the time it takes to get a message,  you’d think we’d be less apt to jump to conclusions if we don’t get a text within two minutes of sending one,  you’d think we’d be bully less, we would know our friends better, you’d think we’d honor commitments more,  that the divorce rate would be way less than 50% (75% in California), you’d think that people’s social graces and manners would be more intact, you’d think people would be just overall more knowledgeable and more compassionate, you’d think.

I mean we really have it good, at the click or vocal command of a button, we can send someone a message! Could you imagine the hysteria that would ensue if we had to use the old fashioned ways of connecting such as camels, dogs, horses, pigeons, and reindeers, not to mention boats?!  To deliver mail in Alaska in 1899 they used reindeers. In Canada and Alaska from 1896-1903 they used dogs to pull their sleds, and in Australia, Afghan cameleers would take around 4 weeks on a 520 kilometer journey.  As for the main carriers of mail throughout the world since ancient times, horses and homing pigeons were used to delivered government, war news and personal messages.

Sorry I gotta’ interrupt this article real quick, hold on.  Let me, just, finish my text real quick and I’ll umm, get back to my point, you can keep talking though, I’m listening really I am….

Wait where was I, oh ok, right, so today we have phones, Facebook, twitter, and a number of other social networking sites whose  major intent, I do believe are to connect people, but like any great tool, it is in how it is utilized that makes it a thing of creation or a thing of destruction within a civilization.  According to Digital Buzz Blog, 87% of the world’s populations are currently mobile subscribers, 48% of young people in 2011 got their news through Facebook, and over 700 Billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook with 48% of 18-34 year olds checking as they awake.  I am not saying get rid of these things, I have Facebook, twitter, a blog, a computer, and a good phone, but they don’t take the place of good old fashioned communication and human interactions nor should they be utilize to create a make-belief world. I  must say, that while I do see some of the benefits of this new social revolution and at times participate, it wasn’t without feeling a bit  begrudged over the notion of succumbing to the pressures of  keeping in touch, doing business and networking in an almost paper & email-less world. It’s as if once something is invented people forget how they used to function before.

The problem with Facebook, contemporary phones, eReaders, iPods, iPad, twitter, and our most modern machines is they are not being used as additional ways to connect and inform, an they aren’t  improving our linguistic skills or the quality of the news. Modern technology and this new social revolution are substituting and morphing our tactile day to day interactions with people and events and disconnecting us from reality while injecting us into an “I” driven virtual reality run world.

Burson-Marsteller Global Social Media Check-Up 2012

Aside from ways of keeping in touch, social media sites are often used to sell to others an alternate reality of what one wishes their life would be or what they would like others to think of them via a barrage of status updates or photos of how “awesome” my life is or “how sexy, confident, and independent I am, outside of what you normally see” photos. While we’re on the subject of sexy, taking a photo of yourself in your bathroom mirror, mid-torso up with your shirt off or in a bra with your lips puckered, only advertises  a deep need for public affirmation and attention. In addition, topics like your relationship, whether it’s dribble from a break-up, partner information or sexual information, shouldn’t be reduced to status updates as if there’s nothing private or sacred anymore.

Facebook and twitter give people a stage to be all talk and no action. They redefines bravery and affirms cowardice with a platform for people to speak their minds in ways that they would hardly dare to in person. There was once a time where only the few were given a stage to say something, and when they said it, it would make people think and want to research and find out more. Now, the mystery is gone, the desire to discover others has waned because with the click of a button you can just go into someone’s Facebook and look at their entire life via photos. I feel like it’s the same equivalent of leaving the door to your house open when you’re not home, someone just wonders in and looks through all your stuff, walks out with their assumptions of knowing you and you never knew they were there, but are somehow ok with that. Gone are the days of sitting down with a photo album and laughing as you turn the pages, gone are the days of having to actually work, create or do something worthwhile to get your message heard. Oh and you can forget about love letters, we’ve apparently made it clear that texting “I ‘Heart’ U ‘smiley face,'” does the trick.

Somewhere along the lines, we have linked the word new and faster with better, which is great for companies like Google who annually earn 2.5 Billion in mobile ad revenue convincing you of this.  While we spend our time thinking that it’s a great and efficient idea to manage and contain our world on little digital machines or to allow computers and apps to take the place of people, places and events, we  lose out on the human experience and amplify the hysteric need for stimulation to authenticate and activate our emotions.

I’ve been watching commercials on tv where they advertise groups of friends hanging out online or a young girl introducing her new boyfriend to her father via a web cam or the worst of them all are those Siri personal assistant commercials.The fact is, no amount or ordering digital songs on iTunes will take the place of going to a music store like Tower Records, to listen to and find your favorite CD while you read through the lyrics or even better, making a mixed CD for your buddy or crush. With companies like Redbox and Netflix, future generations will miss out on walking the aisles of  Blockbuster or Hollywood Video whilst reminiscing on old films as they pick up a new one. It is those interactions with people in the stores, in the grocery line or the checkout clerk or even being tutored by a person inverse of a computer or sitting in a library doing research, touching and smelling the history that romantically envelops a  book, that make for some of the most funny, intimate, unplanned and memorable experiences.

This new social revolution is breeding the next generation of kids who are  bored and starved of the beauty and significance of simplicity, nature, imagination, adventure and experience as the new toy is a notebook computer and portable TV’s become backseat babysitters in cars taking coloring books and landscapes out of commission. One thing is for sure, all this text talking and technological reliant behavior is totally killing the classic story elements that made films like these so timeless: ‘Say Anything,’ ‘High Fidelity,’Three Amigos,’ ‘Working Girl,’ ‘Sixteen Candles,’ ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ ‘She’s Having a Baby,’ ‘Goonies,” ‘Ferris Buller’s Day Off,’ and  ‘Princess Bride.’

In a society where everything is revealed and patience is at an all-time low, gone are the days of heightened mystery and intrigue and taking the time to actually, with a marinated palpable attentiveness, get to know someone or something outside of an app or website.

You see, with all that time we supposedly saved, no one really seems to use it to stop, bask, see, feel and truly, smell the roses.