My Diamond Shoes Are Too Tight
Or, Our Fortunate Misfortune
Do you ever feel a little overwhelmed by electronics? The endless buzz about the latest and greatest gadget, the op-eds and questionable studies about how much screen time is okay and how much will turn you into a vegetable, the condemnation from the emphatically smartphone-less, and the lurking sense that 10-year-olds probably don’t need cell phones? (Do they? Have things changed that much since I was 10?) Meanwhile, maybe you just want to have some fun with a nifty toy and check your Facebook feed on your commute, thankyouverymuch.
Electronics are a fact of my world. In this community, where you can hit Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and about a thousand other technological household names with the nearest available stone, smartphones and tablets are almost ubiquitous (particularly among my generation, though increasingly among others as well). If yours is a year or two old — dude, why haven’t you upgraded? Chris’s job requires intimate familiarity with just about everything with a power button, so toys rotate in and out of our house on a more or less endless conveyor belt, which is a little disorienting for someone who loves power outages and oil lamps. (And my smartphone. I admit it.)
First world problem, I know. My life, it is so hard. (To quote Chandler, “My wallet’s too small for my fifties, and my diamond shoes are too tight!“) As someone who works in homelessness, I am uncomfortably aware that for many (most?) people, the problem of how to limit smartphone attachment is about as pressing as the problem of how to greet the Queen of England.
So what am I writing about, then? The fact that I have a blog at all (and the leisure time to write it) marks me as a person of extraordinary privilege, globally-speaking. The fact that I’m writing this on my Droid means I’m among the world’s income elite. Odds are, if you’re reading this, so are you. I agree with many of the critics of the American addiction to glowing screens: we should step out from behind them more often and appreciate the physical world, connect with the people sitting right next to us as well as those across the world. But what I haven’t heard much about (and maybe I’ve just missed it – maybe you all are way ahead of me on this), is how lucky we are to be having this conversation at all. So sure: let’s unplug more, and enjoy our face-to-face contact. Let’s be more conscious of our must-upgrade tendencies. But let’s also appreciate our good fortune to have this problem in the first place. After all, I’m posting to the Internet from a train, underground. How cool is that?!
For a similar thought expressed much better (and with infinitely more humor and, um, some cute graphics), check out Louis CK on Conan O’Brien.