TU Global: Smartphone stupidity
I was sitting on the third floor of West Village Commons with my Macbook Pro plugged in to the nearest outlet, my headphones in and my iPhone plugged into my computer to charge, staring pensively out the window.
I was watching a group of about five kids playing keep up with a soccer ball while one stood aside with both hands engaged with her smartphone trying to hit the ball whenever it came her way without looking up.
I’d had trouble coming up with a topic for this Monday’s column so like usual, I took to the Internet for inspiration and found my way to USA Today’s website where it seemed like the only thing happening outside of the arena of car bombs, buildings collapsing, shootings, and the US government probing people’s online activities was a debate within Congress about some supposedly important law?
I think it was regarding healthcare and some guy named Ted Cruz who likes Dr. Seuss?
But anyway, I don’t remember how, but I eventually came across a clip of the comic Louis C.K. on “Conan” explaining in an unexpectedly philosophical sense why he doesn’t want his daughters to get smartphones like “the other stupid kids.”
He went on to remark that because of smartphones, kids “don’t look at people when they talk and they don’t build empathy.”
He plays on a scenario in which one kid tells another (face-to-face) that they’re fat and they immediately receive a negative reaction and feel remorse. But when that same kid is typing that insult to someone, they have no sense of guilt for their seemingly harmless insult.
Being the great comic and blunt social commentator that he is, C.K. quickly transitioned from talking about the diminishing sociability of millennials due to smartphone technology, to the point that all ages that are glued to their screens.
Here, he uses the scenario of the loneliness that ensues for some people, including himself, when they’re sitting in the car by themselves and they feel the need to connect with people.
“And I go, ‘Oh, I’m getting sad, gotta get the phone and write “hi” to like 50 people’…then I said, ‘You know what, don’t. Just be sad. Just let the sadness, stand in the way of it, and let it hit you like a truck.’”
It was at this point where CK completely blurred the line between socio-philosophy and comedy: “The thing is, because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away with a little phone or a jack-off or the food. You never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel kinda satisfied with your product, and then you die.”
Which, he says, is why he doesn’t want to buy his daughters phones. It’s a hysterical rant with little contributions here and there from Conan that only add to the fire. But it almost makes you cringe because, well, it’s true. Who doesn’t stand in a long line and feel the need to mess around on their phones or check in on what everyone else is up to? That’s not to say that everyone is terrible and on their way to becoming a heartless cyber-bully. But it’s worth noting that the influence of the phone, while very strong on the age demographic of kids still developing, is far reaching.
And people like Louis C.K. who can bravely identify all the trends and nuances of these new cultural phenomena with embarrassing personal anecdotes, are doing us all a favor by holding up a big mirror through the medium of television for us to all take a look at. It’s comedy at its best: self-deprecating, analyzing the obvious, and painfully honest.