Some times I feel like I am living in a bizarro alternative reality. The Tories. The Snowden revelations. Chelsea FC. Miley Cyrus. The Minions. The continuing success of the cinematographic works of Michael Bay.
But the aspect of modern life that truly alienates me has been building for some time, and it is the growth of electronic synchronous conversation: text messages, chat, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc. I am increasingly distressed to find that I am decidedly unable to communicate with people using any of the available technologies. This makes me feel out of time, but also too reliant on email, which has its own problems.
I am sure that I am not the only one with this ailment, but whenever I go to a public space, I am truly shocked by the number of people who are immersed on their phones, but also I am baffled by the amount of time they seem to stare at the screens. This is not an age thing, and while it is clear that there is a younger generation that is attached to the smartphone in a way that resembles a cyborg implant, this is a phenomenon that is also replicated across age groups.
However, data seems to show that a lot of use for younger people goes to social media, while other research places communication, such as SMS and calls, at very high levels of usage. it is clear that chat is an important element.
I cannot help but feeling strangely disconnected by refusing to engage with the synchronous trend. I actually resent the notion that I should always be reachable and connected, and tend to savour the time it takes to reply to something. The idea of engaging in a text conversation seems alien, and my messages tend to be extremely short, functional and curt, almost monosyllabic in nature.
Hand-written letters would be a solution, it would be like throwing a marker that I have decided not to take part in the collective madness of the perennially connected world, it would signpost that I am now living in the 19th Century. But who has time these days for snail mail? I have toyed with the idea of finding some software that resembles the letter-writing dictation in the film Her.
Or maybe, just maybe, I should just try to talk more. Now that’s a scary thought.