OPINION: There’s a term going around these days to describe modern man … that term is ’phono sapien’, writes Lance Fredericks.
DID YOU know that Tig Notaro has never had the pleasure of meeting Dave Bautista?
It’s insane, I know! I couldn’t believe it myself when I first heard that bit of trivia. I mean, they had such chemistry on screen, and yet, it turns out that it was all smoke and mirrors and CGI and camera tricks and clever directing on the part of Zack Snyder.
Okay, for those scratching their heads right now, Tig Notaro played the cocky, talkative and comical helicopter pilot Marianne Peters in the Netflix movie Army of the Dead. Bautista plays badass Scott Ward, and the two characters have quite a few back-and-forths on screen during the movie – whilst they are decimating Las Vegas’ zombie population, that is.
However, in an interview on A Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Notaro reveals that she never had the pleasure of working with the former WWE superstar turned action hero. All the scenes in which she appears during the entire movie were shot post-production, with her alone on the set in front of a green screen most of the time.
Stand-up comedian Notaro was brought into the Army of the Dead movie after sexual harassment allegations started surfacing against another stand-up comedian Chris D’Elia. These allegations started to be made after the movie was almost done, and by this time D’Elia was everywhere in the movie.
Netflix, however, could not afford their blockbuster to be smeared with negative publicity – with the public boycotting the production – and so they spared no expense in removing scandal-ridden D’Elia from Snyder’s movie and replacing him with Notaro.
What this taught me, once again, is that no matter how popular, how seemingly indispensable, how important you are … you can always be replaced. Even ‘erased from existence’ – as the D’Elia – Notaro exercise proves.
So, do you want to know how I learned this pointless piece of trivia?
It happened late one night back in August last year. There I was, hours after my scheduled bedtime, sitting at my desk watching short – two, five and even nine-minute – YouTube video clips on my laptop.
“It’s just another three minutes and I will go to bed. Wait … this one is just two minutes long. Okay, this one is six minutes, but it looks interesting …” That was the conversation going on in my head.
It’s amazing how small packets of time tally up. Before long, it was almost 3am, and my head felt like most of the roads in our city – fragmented and full of gravel.
Needless to say I felt like a zombie the next morning. I half expected Scott Ward and Marianne Peters to swoop down in their chopper to deal with me.
Why was I up all night being lured by clickbait, you may wonder. Well, it’s a mystery to me too. The fact is, I had plenty of night-time data on my contract – which I hardly ever use, and I think I told myself at one point, “I am just going to ‘test’ how fast night-time data is compared to daytime data.”
If anyone would like the results of my experiment, please remember that zombies don’t have a memory. Don’t judge us.
Here’s the thing, to me this seemed like a once-off indulgence; I was convinced that I was not addicted to the virtual world … or so I thought, until these last two months when my internet connection at home started giving me heaps and loads of problems.
How bad was it? Imagine ‘losing’ 50 gigabytes of data in six days, and then having to use your cellphone as a hotspot just to do your job, where you are working online all day … that’s how bad it was.
The high cost of staying online for work did, however, have a positive result. I had no data available for frivolous internet use. For the past two months I have been off screen and offline more than I have been in years.
Then it became alarmingly clear how I had adapted to a virtual world when I was looking at the front page of last week’s DFA with the picture of the North Cape Mall. In the picture a person can be seen in the foreground carrying a bottle of water.
I thought I recognised the person on the front page. I thought she looked familiar, so I wanted to take a closer look; that’s when I found myself ‘pinching’ the front page and opening my fingers to enlarge the picture, like I do on my smartphone and tablet.
Yes, of course I laughed at myself, but deep down in my spirit I felt a tingle of concern. Has the virtual world swallowed me in too, I wondered. I mean, I am one of those old fogeys who goes around tut-tutting at people walking (and driving) around hunched over their phones.
Did you know that there’s even a term going around these days to describe modern man? Do you remember the evolutionist’s depiction of man developing from a bent-over ape to an upright homo sapien? Well, the new term ‘phono sapien’ shows ultra-modern man, after having achieved an erect posture, hunching back over a device.
And the result of this ‘device worship’ or device infatuation is alarming. By the way, recently studies have shown that the exact same areas of the brain are active when one thinks of a loved one – spouse, child, lover – as the area that’s active when a person thinks of their smartphone.
In other words, people can literally love their phones!
When people are in love with a device, they tend to lose connection with other living organisms. Has anyone else noticed how our planet, our relationships and our compassion toward other living beings is declining as our smart device usage ticks upward?
One preacher I listened to recently – yes, I was online at the time – said that to him it seems as if Satan could not create a real world, only the Almighty could achieve that, so the devil created a virtual world in which he enslaves mankind.
Yikes, that sent a shiver down my spine.
And even if you’re not religious or spiritual, you’d have to admit that scientifically speaking it’s only possible to travel in one direction at a time. So, we will either be diving deeper into our ‘love affair’ with our devices, becoming more and more self-focused, inconsiderate and intolerant, or we could, on the other hand, start caring more for actual living beings.
So personally, I have decided to take an off-data break for one week a month – besides the time I spend working online, that is – so that I can focus on doing real things in the real world … I have heard people say ‘print is dead’, heralding the end of printed newspapers, and I hope with all that is in me that this is not true.
Look, my simple hypothesis is that if we can at least start weakening the bond with technology, maybe, just maybe, our connection with actual living things will stop disintegrating, and who knows, even start to improve.
And if what I have been saying sounds a bit too ‘green’, allow me to quote author Abhijit Naskar who writes, “The more screen-time you consume on your device, the more revenue can the big tech make. So, your health, your well-being, your sanity and serenity are nowhere closer to their priorities. That’s why, your health is in your hands, your serenity is in your hands, your sanity is in your hands.”