If you have an iPhone, you may be reading this with an app. A newspaper? Made of paper? Go and suck an arrow and protest against feudalism by dying of plague, Luddite. No. I, iPhone person, am superior. I am having a virtual bath before going on a virtual walk and maybe, eventually, hopefully, realising I am segueing into a virtual person. Look. Your despised human form is melting. You are a puddle held together by a pixel.
It was bad when people just had mobile telephones. “I am in Surbiton,” someone would scream into the handset, as you sat on the train. But that was only, as we say in apocalypse-speak, the beginning. Now, we have the iPhone and, since Christmas has gone, many more former humans are infected. They are easy to spot and easy to pity. They have a rectangular wound in their hand. They cannot look up, or down, or in your eyes — they look only at the wound.
They seem confused — sometimes happy and giggling, sometimes withdrawn and empty. It is as if Steve Jobs has kidnapped them, implanted something terrible, and returned them — as iZombies.
It is not the phone itself that I object to, even though its name suggests that if you do not own one, you do not deserve the personal pronoun. It is its monstrous conjoined twin, the app. The word ‘app’ — not so much a word as a flat, bored grunt — is a clue to where we are headed with the Apple that is not an apple (although, if you want an apple but can’t be bothered to get an apple, have a picture of an apple!
Customers, you see — actually, I prefer the word hostages — cannot be bothered to say “application”. They have better things to do with their time — like having a virtual pint with iBeer. In labour, trying to squeeze a baby out? Try the Birth Buddy app — it will help you track the frequency of your labour contractions. Is this where science has brought us?
You will say that there are other, better apps. Useful apps, such as one I have just invented. It is called Panic! and it tells you when, where and for how long to have a panic attack. It links to shrinks in your area and it rates those shrinks.
But still the apps meddle with the ordinary processes of life. Do you really never want to get lost again because you can’t, because your app always knows where you are? Do you never want to look up and down the street for a restaurant?
Someone once told me that the larger my fantasy life, the smaller my real one would be. It was good advice, and I give it to you. The larger your iLife, the smaller your real one. Could it be, you are only an absence now?