My “replacement device” has been shipped by Verizon. Should be here Tuesday. Until then, I am phone-free. This is the first time in more than a decade where I will be without a phone in my pocket or hand for five days. Five days. I am reachable, of course, via Tweet and email, and I am not too often very far from my computer. Frankly, not that many people try to reach me, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Funnily enough, SamsungService AT LAST started following my Tweets and asking me for details about what has gone on, asked me to follow and DM them (as had VerizonService) – I refused, directed them to my blog (CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE RIPOFF THAT IS VERIZON WIRELESS AND SAMSUNG GALAXY S3), and suggested they email me – which, of course, they’d told me on phone they “do not have the ability” to do.
In one of those serendipitous “is there a greater power at work in the universe?” sort of apt life events, in the middle of this smartphone-first world problem crisis I was having, I went to see the vaguely sci-fi, maybe social commentary Spike Jonze film, Her (CLICK HERE TO GO TO OFFICIAL FILM SITE).
Premise: Heartbroken, damaged but sensitive man in horrible pants that make his ass look huge falls contentedly in love with his smartphone/computer operating system, becoming even more disenchanted and reluctant to risk engaging in person with actual human beings.
Uhm, frighteningly familiar.
Here’s the thing – a couple of things. I saw the film with a dear friend and when it and this character – played with controlled bravura and finely calibrated pathos by Joaquin Phoenix – is employed at a company as a writer of personal letters for those who cannot, or do not wish to, themselves, write such letters to loved ones. Dear friend leans over and says, “That would be a great job for you.” Just what I was thinking. Not only what I was thinking, but one of the first of the ridiculous exercises I did when in acting school was a day long improv for which one had to create a persona and background but one which was “one of your possible futures” and try to “gain control” of others; I chose being a greeting card writer as one of my possible futures because I had a facility for words and reading emotions.
So there. Later in Her, Joaquin’s virtual love-interest – voiced with spookily prescient perfection by Scarlett Johansson – takes it upon herself, after having already organized his life, made herself essential to his life, shaped herself into his fantasy, submits his best letters to a publisher and gets him a book deal.
Immediately I started to bristle in my seat and became pissed that not only am I unable to get an agent and/or book deal of my own, but I do NOT have an Operating System able to do it for me. My dear friend later said, “I could literally FEEL you getting angry during that scene.”
Yes. All of this, a little too close to home. And I left the film feeling – well, unsure of how I was feeling. On the one hand, a film in which there are jokes about dead cats can’t be all bad. On the other hand, while on some levels the film seems to be meant as an indictment of the rampant techno-solipsism with which we have all been infected, which continues to escalate and purportedly causes a decline in the emotional quality of our lives and human-interactions; the ending copped out on that.
Here’s the thing (well, another thing); in December I emailed a few friends about considering seeing the revival of The Glass Menagerie on a scheduled trip to New York. Almost immediately, when I would be trolling my usual on-line sites, ads for that revival started popping up at me. Do I mind Google and other “virtuals” reading my emails and watching where I websurf and trying to program my experience and present me with things in which some matrix-y-formula determines I might be interested?
No, I don’t mind. Google gives more of a fuck about me than most people I “know” – even if Google sometimes doesn’t pay quite enough attention. If they did, they’d have backed off The Glass Menagerie ads, because the dear friend with whom I saw Her, bought me tickets. I’ve seen the show.
She – dear friend – “read” me and responded. There are real humans left who will do that. Not a lot, but they do exist. By the same token, there are just as many actual physical humans who will simulate emotions they think others want to see, who are just as eager to spin and sell and manipulate as any operating system or Google matrix. And, frankly, I know I’m being sold and marketed to by Google. It doesn’t break my heart.
What has broken my heart are the “real humans” (although whether or not they were “real” or “human” is another blog for another day) who calculatedly used and manipulated and measured me to serve their own purposes. I’d be fine with an operating system that adapted to me, to my needs, although I am certain, like in the film … it would end badly for me, but I am NOT fine with the actual people I have known in whom I have invested my heart, time, soul, and belief only to have them disappear.
And, sadly, if I experienced that virtual operating system love loss and headed for a rooftop, it would not be to commune and start a new relationship with the likes of Amy Adams (she is a goddess to me, she can do NO wrong) but, rather, entirely more likely, I would be heading to the roof to jump.
Okay, back to my phone free, operating system free, off grid world. Shit, I wish Google would figure out I need a boyfriend and do something about it.