I think it was Dr. Lynch who first introduced me to the concept of hand crack, but it came up again in conversation. It’s the addiction to cell phones, and it’s not unintentional on the part of phone manufacturers.
Think about it. Phones are designed to feel good in our hands. In fact, some of the weight in your phone is superfluous. The parts that make your phone work aren’t actually that heavy or large. Part of this is because a small phone would make simple tasks like calling someone and not so simple tasks like writing a blog post harder. But another element behind the construction of the phone is that we subconsciously associate the lightweight with the cheap. If the manufacturer’s price of a phone is going to be $800, then the phone better have some heft to it. But not too much, of course, because then a phone becomes a burden. If isn’t already…
All of this, of course, is a very poetic way of introducing a simple fact. My laptop died Friday.
This has caused more than a few headaches for me. For one, I am in the midst of writing a thesis. I also have a job that primarily functions on my laptop. You can’t really work in social media without an internet connection. The saving grace this weekend has been a little luck, and my smartphone.
That’s the thing, though, isn’t it? It’s not the phone we’re addicted to. We’re addicted to the opportunities that having an internet connection brings. It’s so much easier to make a friend on Facebook than it is in real life. Or a connection. An endorsement. A circle. A fan.
I think my favorite word for this is “follower.” I have followers. No longer do you need to be a sage or a celebrity to have people listening to you. You can have followers with just a quick click of a few buttons.
I also like followers because it suggests the distance that is the undercurrent of separation. Social media, for all its benefits and ability to forge connections, also creates a transparent barrier. I am the novelist, the narrator, and the protagonist of the story I create on my social media platforms. Increasingly, as social media becomes more public and less private, this barrier thickens. What would a potential employer think of this picture? How would my mother react to this status? How do I show my ex boyfriend I’m better off without him without posting Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson lyrics?
As much as I like to study social media, I recognize that it can be a weight you can’t shake. That I can’t shake. That, most importantly, I don’t want to shake.
None of these ideas are particularly new or original. But they didn’t mean much to me until I lost half of my connection to this virtual world. I have a new sense of, dare I say it, awareness of this phenomenon. And I think that’s the most important part. Being conscious of our consumption, not simply going through the motions because everyone had a Facebook, don’t you know? When we sit down and think about the hand crack, we can admit to ourselves that there is a limitation. And maybe, just maybe, we can turn it off. For a little while, at least.