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Zombie Society

A device has been held in my right hand for the last 17 years. I use my HANDPHONE just as they named it - it's like part of my body. My neurological system adopted it and it became a muscle memory. And I have phantom pain when it is not around. This small chunk of molded plastic, metal and silicon filled with circuits controlled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) is my new bionic appendage.

This device's (her) newborn excitement to the world excites me too! She wakes me up by her calm melody in the morning, fed by a "personalized" algorithm and filtered meal which was prepared through the night. With her source of data and abilities, everything seems available and possible.

By her loving care I started to live automatically, without human intuition but with machine prediction. When life is lived by not having a sense of your enviroment; there is no meaning in life; days fly by just like every other day, they become only numbers. I am here or there physically, but my mind is elsewhere. If I recall what I have eaten yesterday morning or how my last month passed from a blur of my memories, they feel numb.

Rumours about how 21st century rulers use our collective data - manipulating and feeding it back to us to be appied in our daily life through devices which pull the strings - used to sound like contemprary fiction, or at least too real to be true, until I experienced it. About a year ago, reality kicked me hard when I was on my way to a mountain hike while Googlemaps navigation was driving my car and SoundCloud shuffle played music. Meanwhile, I was oblivious, high on my hiking excitement. Something paused my music and a hiking gear shop's (that's 3 mintues away from me) advertisement started. I got chills when the store sign appears clearly on my way. A curious voice in my head asked "Should I stop by?" before realizing exactly what's happening.

I yelled at my phone: "NOOO! ENOUGH of you! ENOUGH!"

Thier seeding the idea of shopping worked, but critically for me. Since the experience I stepped back from my automatic life to conciously watch myself and my phone to see who is really using who.

The intimacy between us was real, which I caught myself having sex with my phone. Porn is available only few clicks away through free websites. In the past I have diminished myself by staring at a screen for purely the pleasure of it. My brain was projecting reality soley based on the content I was ingesting. Erotica affected my imagination. That being said, my mind couldn't see men any better than a nice pleasure. Messed up! After my awarness I cut off all pornography material that's in my control. My physical desire (horny state) faded away with those images.

One after another I started peeling the layers of my washed brain.

Pop, beep, ding, flash light, vibration... My nerves receive the notions from the phone as an emergency-alert signal. Notification of messages, emails, reminders, updates and reports are poking me 24/7. It was the clue of why I have been feeling nervious, anxcious, and scared of something all the time.

Observing my own behaviour contuined with an automated habit - checking my phone without notification or a purpose. Sad to admit, but I witnessed myself quitting analytic reads, simple calculation, and gave zero effort remembering phone numbers. Can't be still to concentrate on research to make my own decisions. Anything that needed my brain feels annoying and complicated to deal with.

Instead of using it's smartness for look up an answer for my wonders, I use it for scroll, swipe or double tap on distracting photos and videos, that puts me into a zombie state. The damage of this relationship is so life threatening that I had to break up with her to get my will back.

* * *

On the screen, things are covered in a glittery wrap, pretty ribbon and tagged FREE. Behind the screen it's a well strucured ripoff. The FEE we pay is twisted and blended so that we can't see it even when we are staring it eye to eye. Our monthly bills for electricity, internet (WiFi) and data, phone service are the gateway to access the enterance of "FREE". Also, we need to buy devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers to use the services and receive the abundance of "FREE" content. It's like to eat hot soup you must also have to have a bowl and a spoon. Without the wire and the device we can't put our finger onto the free things. It's the base fee we pay monthly, you see.

Not only do we pay, we also volenteerly work for free. The content we provide; photos we take, reviews we experience, music we created, even simple actions like clicking links, feeds the IoT our data. Participation with our likes, comments even just visiting is time consuming and our personal cost is immeasurable.

Without a screen in my face, headphone in my ears life gets exprienced as it is. Sun shines, moon glows, wind blows, trees dance, dogs bark, kids play, elders walk, eyes meet... The world just presents itself which is much broader and richer than any screen. A geniune recognition of a stranger in the street makes my day. There are situations we need each others help in real time. We fail to see it when we live an automated life.

Let me finish this with part of Charlie Chaplin's speech. "You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure."

Photographer: Jon


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