Humans, the lot of us, we just love to pretend we don’t care about the world, whether it burns or toasts or dents – phones help us do so, subtract the guilt, too.
Mobile phones, those damn noisy princesses which have come to solidify our fear of public engagement, persuade us to press and press them, weary the buttons, chuckle endlessly at pictures, vlog posts and YouTube sensations.
They have become a part of our breathing. How dare anyone forget them at home, in a purse, on the bus? Worse, when they’re not flashy enough to be routinely whipped out at stiff moments in the day.
These days, they’re smart(er). They come with boredom triggers, a pinging inside that lets you know you’re in need of a diversion even when you forget it’s there. You launch it out and behold it, like your new baby, caressing, wiping a brow of sweat off its surface, giving it the attention you’ve never given anything your whole life.
It is the age of cowardly socialites.
Funnily enough, the world outside our phone is a million times richer, available to touch, far more stable, less concocted.
Tucked in a queue waiting for estate bakery staff to take our monies and give us breakfast, two sisters arrive to join us. Older, barrel-chested and pretty, can’t hold anyone’s gaze, pulls out a HTC device, discovers confidence. Younger, bloated and still pursuing inner beauty, can’t hold anyone’s gaze either, and apparently not old enough to own a phone yet, peers into her sister’s, laughing like anything’s funny.
I’m able to observe because I’ve been holding gazes all morning, having no gadget to trench myself into, immerse myself and pretend not to notice the world.