I suppose whether I like it or not it is generational, but I can't understand people's attachment to their cell phones. When I'm in the supermarket it seems like everyone else has a phone to the ear while poking through the kale. I feel as though I must be the most insignificant person on earth since apparently everyone else has important business to transact at every moment of the day. Everyman has attained the status of a broker at the beach wearing a Bluetooth with his Speedo.
But that is not necessarily so. Perhaps all these connected shoppers are receiving orders. Perhaps they must buy stewed tomatoes and they are forever uncertain they have remembered the correct brand. It may be that the overlords on the other end of the phone conversation don't trust their minions to keep their errands straight unless they are being constantly monitored and instructed.
They have the furtive look of addicts, like cigarette smokers outside an office building, and, like other addicts, they are never satisfied. If for any reason the connection is broken, through a failure in the system or in the individual device, anxiety amounting to panic ensues.
I did acquire a smart phone, though years later than everyone else. It has proven very slow to share its secrets with me. I know about a half of per cent of its nature, probably less. It is like an acquaintance for some reason reluctant to tell me his surname. The device has looked on me with its minute camera and judged that I am unready to be initiated into the mysteries. It is willing to allow me a telephone call or two, but further intimacy is forbidden.
It clearly has a secret life of which I know nothing. I can understand its lack of interest in me, but in what might it be interested instead? Crunching numbers derived from international weather reports? Hatching nefarious plans with Russian hackers? A long distance electronic affair with a garage door opener in Dubuque? I haven't the slightest idea.
If, as John Scotus Erigena said, God is what we do not know, perhaps this little device is divine. So how would devotees worship such a deity? Clearly Apple is a jealous god demanding constant attention. But all followers fall short. No one can be gazing at the device twenty-four hours a day, but the pious approach as closely as possible to that ideal. Soon there may be communities of contemplatives who spend all their waking hours gazing at the little screens. Hoping to be themselves digitalized and in that way immortal, the poor limited humans do their best to appease the all-powerful microcircuits.
The blasphemous might object that humans in fact invented the iPhone, but of course precisely the same is true of Jupiter and Jehovah. And in the realm of the imagination where these conceptual deities contend, the contemporary Apple must be identical to the apple that wrought such havoc in the Garden of Eden. We are surely the same Adam and Eve ready for any attractive deception that catches our eyes.