He pulled his phone out, retreated behind the screen, left the cries of those around him, and found solace in the flashing of his own screen. The macbook came out next. Around him dozens more followed suit. Retreating in fear behind the walls of their technology. People put up their invisible walls, turned their heads downwards and kept from making eye contact. His name was… but that doesn’t matter, he had three thousand followers, and they all wanted to hear what he had to say about the recent world events. He sat still as possible, typing up his Facebook post careful so as not to offend anyone. his peppermint mocha was the only thing to raise his head. Poverty outside the door didn’t budge him from his safe place, he preferred to look into the depths of cyber space for his answers anyway. Every answer at his finger tip, he could solve the world’s problems with a click of his mouse.
Everywhere around him people kept their heads down and solved problems from behind the nice wooden desks. Charity came from the little “give now” icons and the emojis that fell from type happy finger tips were the most smiles that could be seen.
It didn’t take him long to stop caring, to stop feeling deeply, to stop being an individual. It doesn’t take long to become one of many when culture and humanity are replaced by technology. When a handshake is is just “deal” typed out with two fat thumbs. When your passwords are your soul and your Instagram is your face.
I tried not to shiver from the air-conditioning that blew down my back, watched as the numbers on my screen went up, more readers on my latest post. Tried to hide my dismay when a refresh didn’t show any more hearts on my latest Instagram post.
The man sitting on the other side of the glass smiled at me from his pile of old clothes and blankets. As i walked out the door I said hello, and asked how he enjoyed the weather.
“The sun feels nice after spending a few nights in the rain,” He smiled up at me. His head pulling him upright. “Can’t believe what happened last night though honestly, if I had a passport I might move to Canada,” he laughed again and gave me a little wink.
I smiled back, tried not to blink too hard in the bright sunlight. I had heard that joke a few too many times in the last two hours to laugh too hard at it. I slid my phone out of my pocket, gave the man a little wave, and then checked my messages. Nothing.
Creativity is harder when you can bump up against unlimited information with the touch of a button. When all the information in the world is at your fingertips, to be found without effort, how is it possible to have an original thought?
He kept his headphones on, watching in excitement as stats changed real time on his screen. A little add came up on his screen for a pair of manly leather boots and a red plaid shirt. Thirty seconds later the screen promised they would arrive in one to two business days. Red plaid and those leather boots. How well the internet kept track of his taste!
Two days later he walked out the door in his new attire, he was greeted by a flood of young men, all wearing leather boots and red plaid shirts. “They have great taste,” he thought as he hurried down the road, toting his one of a kind, hand made, leather shoulder bag. The same one that every man he passed had. A sign of individuality.
I kept my head down as a I walked past a man with a pair Carhart pants and a ball cap. “That guy knows what’s real,” I felt a little self conscious in my jeans and Vans shoes. He probably thought me a lesser man. Thirty seconds later I walked into school and suddenly felt out of place. I was surrounded by straight cut natural coloured pants and plaid shirt, and a few pairs of thick rimmed glasses, and a hallway of boat shoes. I immediately regretted my choice of a bright blue hoodie and Under Armour hat. I looked uneducated, and god-forbid, undedicated to academics.
I sighed in relief as I slid into my car. No more judgement. I pulled my phone out and refreshed Instagram. A group of guys appeared on my screen, all toting leather bags and nicely groomed beards, they were posed looking at the sky. “Now there is a cool crew of guys,” I promised myself I would someday have a group of friends like that.
He took a step outside. Cell phone in his pocket with a dead battery. He breathed in deeply, and smiled. But his smile faded away when he saw the sign above his head that read “We are all killing this planet, one pair of shoes at a time, save the planet and buy —–” He looked down at his shoes, saw his beautiful leather boots. “I am killing the planet, one cow at a time,” He scuffed his heals, then stood up straighter. “I am killing myself, one little piece of information at a time,” He pulled out his phone and pushed the voice control, “How do you help your self esteem?” The screen stayed black. “Dang dead battery,” he stood on the sidewalk, holding his dead cell phone up in front of his face, looking at his reflection in the black screen. His pale face stared back through his bushy black beard. “Almost time to dye my beard again,” he muttered.