I’m fond of oppositional hypotheticals: Would you give up X for Y, if….
It might be my most annoying trait.
Lately, I have been given to propositioning people: for what would you be willing to give up your phone?
Would you do it in exchange for a free house in LA? Say, for one year. Would you disconnect from social media, from search, from Yelp and Uber and Grand Theft Auto and Netflix streaming in your hand and all the other divertissements and useful gadgetry threaded into modern life?
I don’t understand, reply my interlocutors. What are we, Amish? What would be the point?
Because you’re getting a free house, that’s why. In Los Angeles. And I, the Grand Proposer of this particular Eden say: eat not of this technology. It’s like Frontier House, except your only going back to 2007.
But I can’t fap without a phone. I can’t last without fap. Actually I probably could. I can’t last without video games. I need to behead something once a day to stay sane.
Do we have a landline?
You can have a landline.
I still don’t want to do it.
Are you crazy? Free rent! Los Angeles at your disposal. Find yourself for a year…
I take pride in paying rent, says my friend paying $1200 for a cell without light in the Casa Royale on Sepulveda.
You’d think there would be a lot of takers. The de-coupling of housing costs in Los Angeles from the underlying wage structure have reached such a point of absurdity (or market clearing price), people would step back into the recent primitiveness of the Oughts with, if not eagerness, then hopeful curiosity. As in, what could it hurt? It might even bring on an uptick of cognitive function.
Only one person responded affirmatively, and he’s Canadian.
Look, I get it. I fixed a broken dishwasher with a 95 cent hose clamp after a five minute diagnosis at YouTube University. Instant hacks, the democratization of knowledge is gratifying and addicting. How do I get dog blood out of my mattress? Why is there a traffic jam up ahead? For how long? When is the next yoga class? What are the tasting notes on this wine bottle in my hand? What’s the correct German translation of “I’m afraid of bats in the dark?”
These are useful things, so we feel we have earned the right to be shallow in other realms: Facebook when lonely, Instagram when bloated, listicles when bored. When we feel pretty we want the world to know. We issue press releases for ourselves and call it sharing.
People would rather be chained to two jobs, plus commute, rather than bear the idea of being disconnected from “friends”: I need for them to be able to reach me. I need to know what is going on. I need to be in communication. In the course of a decade, this unease with being “alone”, rather than inconvenienced, has become insurmountable. Enter the Samsung Family Hub…
So, you’re telling me I can surf the web from my refrigerator?
Yes, and it shows you who is at the front door while showing you how to cook a soufflé.
Does it tell me when we’re out of milk?
Actually it tells your phone.
The Hub is a 21 inch touch screen in the fridge door, which operates as a convenience fairy godmother; streaming music, offering apps, taking lists, alerting you to intruders in the yard, and crucially, operating as a microphone recording every word spoken in your kitchen and relaying that information to a great Metadata Repository to never, ever be used for anything but Benign Purposes.
There are several Family Hub commercials, and the common theme is atomization: children and spouses interact not with each other but through the refrigerator screen even though they are in the same room. The Mothers are doing More Important Things, like heading off to design meetings.
The expression on the actor’s face is meant to convey wonder. Unintentionally, I think it reveals doubt. As in, is this how I’m going to pay my rent this month, by encouraging people to talk to their refrigerator?
Let’s talk about what’s possible.™