February 26: whatever happened to the smartphone?

It may seem strange today but back in the early twenty-first century the so-called smartphone held sway over the entirety of western culture. Back in 2022 when travelling about town any self-respecting citizen of the time would walk with one of these apparatuses in front of him and would apparently observe and experience reality via the minature screen rather than with the direct use of his own senses. Quite frequently, the citizen of the early 21st century would also wear headphones which would complete his or her act of intentional sensory deprivation. A teacher in his or her classroom would return after break time to find an entire class looking at their smart phones rather than conversing together like any healthy twelve or fourteen year old would do today. It is difficult to imagine what could have possessed the adults of the time to engage in such wilful child abuse as to raise their offsprings in this way, but back in the day such neglect was not punishable in any way and indeed seems, as far as we can judge by the documents of the day, to have been encouraged by the authorities of the time who apparently colluded with the private corporations who made vast amounts of money from the smartphone and similar devices. There is hilarious footage of the time showing young lovers at Valentine’s dinners sitting opposite each other, a long stemmed red rose in a vase between them, each scrolling down their own screen and oblivious to their partner sitting opposite them behind their bowl of steaming pasta. There is one exasperated report from an enlightened inhabitant of 2022 London recounting how conversation at a dinner party was constantly interrupted by participants in the dinner fact checking the most trivial details on their smartphone and then, as though hypnotically transfixed, choosing to show a list of photographs of children and pets or even snapshots of dinner plates from previous dinner parties. As far as we can understand the culture of the time, the obsession seemed to be to immediately log an experience on the smartphone without taking any time to savour the experience itself. The lesson only seems to have been learned when a few years later the generation that had grown up in the early century found themselves ill equipped to live and work in the society of the mid twenty first century (mid 21 as it was termed at the time). By then, the follies of the so-called smartphone era had been restrained.


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