If I were to ask you to name a machine that people connect to in order to live, is your first response an iPhone or an iron lung? Leave Your Phone at Home Day will determine whether these machines represent essentially the same thing, as if we do in fact need a machine to live, it cannot be said that we are fully humans any more but half machine (“I’m a mooonster!!” –Buster Bluth), or at least part cyborg. I don’t think this is just a semantic formulization, but serious business. When travelling, or heaven help us even in our home cities, people need smart phones to find a place to eat, to find overnight lodging, and as a navigation tool so they know where in the world they are. If we can’t function without these devices, if our own human ingenuity isn’t enough to live day-to-day, we cannot claim to be fully human. Physically grafting the device to our bodies is only incidental if we cannot function without them.
Apple knows this. It is curious that the “i” in iPhone is not capitalized, but the “P” in “Phone” is. It seems this departure from conventional grammar is Apple’s way of giving a nod to the Phone’s superiority over “i” (us). If it turns out we can’t function for even a day without their product, we vindicate their degrading lack of faith in us. Leave Your Phone At Home Day participants: know that Apple is betting against you. And for those with other smart phones, remember that while you are separated from your phone, the phone isn’t getting any less smart. But you, on the other hand…
Now naturally, you object because your smart phone is required for work. Fine: you’re not a cyborg if all the problems you encounter during LYP@HD could be solved with a land line. It’s only the phone’s non-phone functions — the internet and various apps — that being wholly dependent on makes you part machine. I’ll give the modern employee a break and allow for work-related texting and e-mail too. But beyond this, it’s important to be able to function without a phone. And it’s worrying, because if you can’t function without it now, there’s no chance of you ever becoming less dependent on it.
To use a parallel everyone will understand, let’s compare each of our social groups —things like family, coworkers, friends — to the Borg, the arch nemesis of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Borg famously depended on the interconnectivity of all the other Borgs. If our various social groups are prevented from functioning when one of its members loses connectivity, it suggests that each of our social circles now demand the same perfect social cohesion as the Borg. Let’s remember that, though the Borg seemed invincible, their entire ship was destroyed because Locutus fell asleep.
But let this not be a grim message! I am not Apple, betting against you. But you can’t simply prepare for LYP@HD like it’s any other day. You’re going to be phoneless, so expect a battle and get mentally prepared. Going a day in the city without a smartphone is like being lost in the woods without a Swiss Army Knife and compass. Perhaps listen to the Any Given Sunday speech. It’ll take all the resourcefulness, ingenuity and street smarts you’ve got, but resistance is not futile. You are not a Borg. You are a capable human being.
So LYP@HD is an important trial we all must undergo in order to determine the extent to which we’ve become machines. Just maybe we’ll learn that we are still human after all. Dramatics aside, the fate of human civilization depends on us. Do your part and take the challenge.
Personally, I work from home and I don’t even own a smart phone, and since I provided a loophole that allows me to use my cell for work, it’s a day where I really don’t do much different.
Best of luck, though.
Leave Your Phone @ Home Day was April 14th, 2012, but it can be anytime you choose.
Part 1 of our LYP@H Coverage “The Phoneless Journey” by Danny DeVito can be found [here]
Part 2 of our LYP@H coverage “They Really ‘Like’ Me” by Séamus Gearin can be found [here]
Part 4 “On The Loneliness of Extraversion” by Lee-Anne Bigwood can be found [here]