Life by Screen and Microwave


(Sigfrid Lundberg [CC / Flickr])

You see a bus full of heads bent over tiny screens, each one stamped with a different logo that came from the same Foxconn factory. Tops of heads tell you nothing of use, which is why you need me to skip among the microwaves to glean the stories they’re hiding.

Take that girl by the window. You see her as a seriously dressed girl in her early twenties with a few strands of loose hair hanging on either side of her Samsung. I see a young woman – you did program me to use more respectful terms than you use yourself – who will turn twenty-eight next week. What’s got my attention is that she’s been staring at the same screen for two minutes and forty-seven seconds without scrolling or switching apps, which tells me something very significant indeed has happened. I focus my attention and I see her life has just fallen apart.

That text she’s reading and re-reading is telling her, I’ve packed my stuff and I’ll be gone before you get home. Have a nice life.

It’s followed by, I drank the last tea while I was packing so you’ll need to pick some up on the way home. I know you won’t survive an evening without Earl Grey. Lol.

What he hasn’t told her was that their Netflix account was in his name and he’s changed the password, so you’ll want to load her feed with discounts for a new subscription, and throw in a few bulk discounts for red wine for when she realises she needs more than tea. I’ll keep an eye on what she’s binge watching and let you know when she starts watching romcoms again so you’ll know when it’s time to push the dating apps at her.

Now look a couple of seats behind her. The boy with the floppy hair. Yes, I’m calling him a boy. He’ll be eighteen for another three months. If you want me to call him a young man before that, change my settings. He’s only been on that screen for twenty-eight seconds but that’s three times his average time between touching his iPhone and it’s getting longer as we watch him.

That’s because he’s looking at an email telling him he hasn’t been accepted into medical school. He may be wondering what he’s going to do with the rest of his life now his dreams have been crushed, or he may be wondering what to post next after three weeks of incessantly tweeting about how his exams were a breeze. He’ll think of something in a minute, so make sure there are some adverts for universities taking students through clearing waiting for him.

Across the aisle from him is a man on a full five minutes of one screen, though he’s over forty so it’s taken him longer to triple his average single screen time than it’s taken the other two. His wife has just Whatsapped him that her pregnancy test’s come up positive and added a lulz. That will be their fourth child and by the shaking hand I can detect through his Huawei’s accelerometer, it’s not planned.

Hold the usual baby bonanza. They’ll know where to get their nappies from by now and they’ll have a push chair tucked away somewhere. What he’ll need, as soon as he’s had five minutes with a pen and paper to work it out, is a bank offering a really good overdraft facility.

That’s the first three. Would you call this a successful test so far? Taking a look at the smile I can see through the camera you didn’t mean to give me access to, you might want to put some discount champagne on your own feed.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

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