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April 2014, vol 10, no 1

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Pat Tompkins

Thumbs Down

A dozen years ago, when I told people I didn’t have one, they greeted my admission with pity and occasionally with amazement that I was able to survive. The pity has changed to envy, although the amazement lingers. And meanwhile, we’ve become a nation of folks walking around with heads bowed, and I’m not seeing smiling faces.

What I don’t have is, of course, a cell phone or smart phone or any other little techno doodad that lets people inform each other instantly that yes, they’re at the grocery store and there’s no butter pecan ice cream left so how about toasted almond instead, or they’re delayed in traffic—ah, traffic, the all-purpose excuse—so they’re going to be a few minutes late, and other such vital communiques.

Be careful what you wish for. Being available around the clock around the world has its price. What fun George Orwell would have had with social media. “Freedom is slavery.”

a cold April day
clocks striking thirteen
what time is it?