While in the theater to see The Nun (which ended up being the biggest take) this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice that the pre-movie adds were all about apps. I couldn’t help it because, much to my own chagrin, I’d left the house too quickly and I hadn’t brought a book to read while waiting. This may not be news to some people, but different cinema chains have different “channels” of what passes for entertainment and ads to try to draw viewers in early. The movie house we used to frequent in New Jersey had a variety of goods on show, most of the time. The one we visited here in Pennsylvania presumed that everyone had their phones in hand, waiting for the show to begin. On screen was the idolization of the app.
My phone is old enough that most modern apps don’t work on it. Most of the time that doesn’t matter to me since I’m not addicted to the device. Of course, when you’re trying to park your car in a town that offers only online options for such a convenience, I sometimes wish I could download the relevant necessary software. Otherwise, I often wonder what we’ve lost in our lust for connectivity. Coming out of New York on the longer distance bus recently, the driver called out, as leaving the Port Authority, “Lights on or off?” The unanimous chorus, for I didn’t speak, answered “Off!” I glanced around. I was surrounded by devices. I carry a book-light with me on the bus, for this has happened before.
“Drink the Kool-Aid” has become post-Jonestown slang for simply following the suggestion of someone without considering the consequences. I sometimes wonder if our smartphones come in more than one flavor. I’m not talking about features or physical colors. As apps chip away at our money, a little bit at a time, they also take larger pieces of our time. I’ve experienced it too, but mostly on my laptop (I don’t text—my thumbs aren’t that limber, and besides, the apocopated messages often lead to misunderstanding, emojis or not), the wonder of one link leading to another then realizing an hour has disappeared and I still feel hungry. Perhaps that’s the draw to the modern commuter. Or movie goer. I’m sitting in the theater, taking a break from unpacking. In my version of multitasking, I’m also doing research by watching a horror movie. Around me eyes glow eerily in the dark. I’m lost in the forest of unsleeping apps.