at a lecture recently but no one in the crowd was listening
to the speaker:
were too busy staring at their iPhones, BlackBerries and other
portable Internet screens. They were checking their emails and
stock portfolios, or the latest weather – or just text-messaging,
twittering, Face-booking, Myspacing, or consulting their hourly
to the dawn of the small screen era – a new world of miniature
machines that lures us onto the Internet wherever we are.
are going so screen-crazy that we are screening out real life.
You can already see many small screen addicts walking the streets
hunched over, so engrossed in the virtual world they’d
walk right over their own mother.
“screen fiends” drive their cars with one hand while
typing text messages with the other; convinced they’re
not breaking the law.
officer, -- I wasn’t talking on my cellphone. I was just
sending an email to my barber to say I’d be seven minutes
small screen addicts consult the Internet after every 15 seconds
of conversation. You casually mention that it’s supposed
to be a nice weekend, then they say it’s supposed to rain
– and seconds later they are pulling out their little
screen to Google the five-day forecasts on seven different weather
find any excuse to use their screen because they secretly prefer
its company to yours.
settle for a one-to-one conversation when the whole cyberworld
is at their fingertips? Many teenagers now prefer on-screen
life to the real thing, especially since the arrival of the
iTouch, a hot new portable gadget that connects them to a million
sites and games.
to kids while they’re iTouching and they don’t even
know you’re there – they are lost in an alternative
universe playing games like Penguin Catapult, where you catapult
endless penguins into infinite herds of elephants.
we are only at the barest start of this big small-screen revolution,
which will overwhelm us with endless amounts of tempting information
we don’t really need to know.
are new biofeedback programs on the way to let you monitor your
blood pressure, breathing rate and calories burned per minute
– so you can give yourself a medical checkup as you chat
How are things, Peter?”
so good. My blood pressure has risen from 133/105 to 143/115
in the last half hour and my cholesterol count is peaking at
over 6 LDL. I better put on my earphones and listen to some
Om and Ocean Surf on my iPhone Mind Wave meditation program.”
they will invent special glasses that make our little handheld
screens look bigger than movie screens – and everyone
will be immersed in their own private cyber-surround world.
will have every fact, figure and film in the world available
to us in an instant on our portable cyber-brains screens.
will constantly be interconnected to each other online, like
a colony of ants who act as a single being.
downside is that studies show people who spend too much time
communicating via screens aren’t good at reading people’s
faces or body language. They are more comfortable on Facebook
than in face-to-face contact.
won’t be long before someone invents a way to let us see
the person in front of us through our hand-held screen. That
way we can stand right next to each other chatting into our
screens – and avoid exhausting face-to-face contact.
a few years, you’ll hear comments like: “My screen
broke down yesterday and I had to talk to my wife face to face.
Man! It was so intense – just like HD, only more vivid.
You wouldn’t believe the colour.”
growing screen mania will also fit well with our growing phobia
of terms, which is becoming its own epidemic in society.
will avoid germy face-to-face encounters and choose screen-to-screen
contact over eye-to-eye contact.
will prefer small-screen romances over real ones and go dancing
screen-to-screen because it’s far more sanitary than cheek-to-cheek.
We will replace smooching with smoogling, and marriage with
cyber-mating – and your baby will be delivered to your
door by Amazon.com instead of the stork.
truth is that screen relations are safer, less complex, less
intense, less allergic and less messy than real ones –
and the screen doesn’t argue back.
we humans finally find true happiness when life is just a screen?
but the MSO performance I’ve been sitting through while
writing this column has just ended – and I guess I should
applaud the conductor.