The seven fifteen alarm function of my smartphone had only time for a few bars of its xylophonic chime before I put it through the first session of its daily routine; three snoozes, at five minute intervals. The creatives at Samsung Galaxy named this melody ‘Good Morning’. It‘s a pleasant sounding chime; as pleasant as being dragged blindly defiant through the torturous terrain from sleep deprivation to consciousness can be. Nonetheless, I was already one quarter conscious from the repertoire of musical warbling from the charm of magpies that had taken residence high up on the electrical cables outside my suburban, yellow clinker; twenty two odd at last count, and one lonesome, cumbersome crow. Aware that the phone was going to hassle me repeatedly for the next fifteen minutes, I dialed up the morning paper to ignite my mind and get some insight into the latest in world news. 19th September, 2022 – “Missing testicles delay wedding”. Well… that’ll do it.
The street we live hosts access to a nearby TAFE and every morning a procession of students trek past my house. Hunched youths donning backpacks, with ear-phone cords trailing to their pocket and a smartphone fixed in their gaze are a constant sight. The magpie elders swoop from time to time but the students would never know. The post-smart phone posture has inadvertently created an effective defensive pose shielding the face and eyes from the tactical assault of an aggressive mating male. Now that’s a smart phone. But what about the posture? A CBS Fox story entitled ‘Just a Hunch’ makes reference to the “fall of the smart phones.” Orthopedic specialist Dr. Alton Baron clarifies that it’s not so much the fall of the smart phone but the “fall of the body.” He claims he’s witnessed an increase in posture related issues and attributes this to the hunching of the body and the dropping of the head, as smart phones are now virtually an inbuilt human mechanism. To borrow from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution: what are the chances that in generations to come, the human body might revert back to a stance from an era between the ape and Cro-Magnon man? Or woman? It could happen… stranger things have. And what will become of our arms? Will they lose an elbow and shrink into foot-long clubs for proximity to the face and reduced sun glare? At least, the cost of a full sleeve tattoo will be minimized. Maybe finger growth will cease in toddlerhood to adapt better to the screen’s undersized keypad, efficiently reducing letter bleed and the need to backspace. Dr. Baron didn’t mention anything about that. I wonder what he’d say if he could see my children single-handedly fumble to remove snacks from the fridge while remaining fixed to the tablet screen in their other hand and concluding that it’s the fridge door’s fault for making their activity such a chore. It’s excruciatingly annoying to watch but extremely good fodder for Facebook.
The fall of the body though, is only one downfall of smart phone technology. There are others such as ignorance and stupidity which is ironic considering these devices are vessels of information. Inevitably I have been witness and perpetrator to both. Each morning I slug out a few kilometers around a local park with my two Border Collies. My biggest challenge is where to store my phone while I run. While it is a thin, stealthy device, it’s too wide to slip into the mini pocket of my skin-tight Lorna Jane’s so I have to carry it in my hand and that’s annoying. So is trying to jog and talk, or text and walk which sometimes results in the literal fall of the smart phone. But these are minor infringements compared to the convoy of texting drivers who put lives at risk on the roads every day. I can still smell the turbo diesel of the oversized, silver Mercedes Benz four-wheel drive looming down over me jammed in my silver Toyota Corolla hatch and the shock of the blonde with the big, black, bug-eyed sunglasses as she realized there was a car in front of the phone she had perched up on her steering wheel. I really should have been more careful though. It could have been a really important message.
The younger cousin to being run off the road by a busy mum is being run off the footpath by an oblivious teenager. The same bug-eye glasses although white this time. She seemed so content, drifting along the pavement in an iPod infused daze, her long white skirt tousled by the warm spring breeze. I offered an acknowledging smile as we approached each other. Her bug stare did not alter… but her trajectory did, directly towards me. I side stepped to avoid a collision but she just kept on coming. Could she really not see me? I was right in front of her, backed up against a splintered wooden fence with my arms outstretched to hold her back. “Ooh, sorry” she blurred as she discovered herself unexpectedly yanked from the matrix.
The notion of the ‘fall’ was beautifully portrayed in an incident I almost witnessed outside my home. I didn’t know whether to LOL, or worry dearly for the future of my two, primary school-aged boys. While crouching to admire the latest flush of red, purple, yellow and mauve freesias as they stretched for the springtime sun rays, I heard, in the distance, an almighty thud, teemed with crunching metal, the ‘oomph’ of a male landing hard, and finishing with a grindingly unpleasant scraping sound. I rose from the clutches of the freesias and peered in the direction of the ‘oomph’. There lay a man with his head near the centerline of the road and his legs twisted up near the gutter, in what I could only assume at the time was a bike. The poor sod had come a cropper and was extremely lucky not only that his backpack broke his fall (hence the scraping sound), but also as there was not a car in sight on this usually busy strip. I moved to help him but he unraveled himself hastily, untwisted his bike and was back on his way.
As he got closer it all began to make sense. Here was a teenager, riding a bike, on a road, with one hand controlling the bike and the other trying to operate his smart phone. So to sum it up, the moron has let the handle bars sway in the direction of his gaze, jackknifing his front wheel, tossing him like a cowboy from a bronco. How idiotic. How monumentally hilarious! Where’s a camera phone on stand-by when you need one? That could have been a YouTube sensation!
But I missed it. The magpies high up on the cables saw it. I wonder if they were as amused as I was. I know the big, black, cumbersome crow found it funny. I heard him go “Haa, haa, haa.”