Many before me have noted the problems with a rapidly spreading contemporary global disorder that is caused entirely by that most modern technology, the cell phone. Users have been admonished not to drive or to walk in the streets while texting, a practice that has resulted in injuries and even death. Many of us complain of our friends and family sitting with us at the dinner table reading messages on their phones while ignoring the rest of the group. Although once unusual, it has become commonplace to see a group of friends at a restaurant table all on their phones. I even have an acquaintance who speaks very little to me when we visit, but will begin texting me as soon as I return home. Our texts are lively and engaged, unlike our face-to-face awkward silences.
These behaviors have been the concern of many professions from psychologists such as I am to chiropractors of my acquaintance. We all wonder what will become of the human species. Chiropractors worry about the constant bend of the spine. Will we soon return to walking on all fours (Of course, using the two front paws to manipulate the phone suggests a three point landing using legs and nose. But perhaps technology will advance enough to accommodate the use of the nose for texting!).
We psychologists worry about the lack of direct human connection, particularly eye contact and the act of touch, which are important to psychological wellbeing. However, I would assert that this problem is currently being solved in contemporary society by yet another invention of the marketplace. The moment a new political or even personal belief is somewhere in the air or on the internet, someone puts out a t shirt with that statement printed prominently on it in less than 24 hours. I am acquainted with some in this industry and they literally stay up all night to ensure that their designs are the first on sale the next morning. And it is a good thing that they do because textile genetics is an important and growing field. Let me explain. The evolution of textiles renders the human voice and interaction obsolete. One’s beliefs are simply and clearly written on the body for all to see.
Lest my readers think that this is a Western or urban phenomenon, let me assure them that I have seen this combination in the most rural and impoverished corners of Central America, where I live. “Pura vida” plus telephone. Football team plus telephone. Political affiliation plus telephone. Feliz navidad plus telephone. While you are up, get me a beer plus telephone. For the more intellectually inclined, a likeness of Einstein or Gertrude Stein, perhaps e=mc2 plus telephone.
What more needs to be said to each other? What more do most of us say anyway? Isn’t this precisely how evolution works? If there is no more need for the voice or the erect spine in the next iteration of the species then they become vestigial. Or perhaps we are seeing the next species itself, t+t sapiens. It is then time to stop complaining about the t-shirted telephone users. They are the future of humanity and we best all get on board or be left in the dust of history.