"Only Disconnect" an essay


betwixt and between
I'm a little slow these days getting around to all my favorite parts of The New York Times Sunday paper. This morning I finally got to The Book Review...from July 18th, that is. Don't ask me why but I almost always start with the back inside essay. I just do.

In the July 18th issue I found an essay by Gary Shteyngart titled "Only Disconnect". I would have read the essay no matter what but my foggy brain recalled that I'd heard him interviewed on National Public Radio (WNYC here in NY) recently about his latest novel...but that's another story. As I read this essay I started chuckling outloud and then I became quiet and recognized myself within, though I don't even have a "smart phone".

Here is the link to the essay online from The New York Times, if anyone has an interest: Only Disconnect (Published 2010) and here is the introduction. Written by Gary Shteyngart on July 9th, this summer.
Since fiscal year 2008, I have been permanently attached to my iTelephone. As of two weeks ago, I am a Facebooking twit. With each post, each tap of the screen, each drag and click, I am becoming a different person — solitary where I was once gregarious; a content provider where I at least once imagined myself an artist; nervous and constantly updated where I once knew the world through sleepy, half-shut eyes; detail-oriented and productive where I once saw life float by like a gorgeously made documentary film. And, increasingly, irrevocably, I am a stranger to books, to the long-form text, to the pleasures of leaving myself and inhabiting the free-floating consciousness of another. With each passing year, scientists estimate that I lose between 6 and 8 percent of my humanity, so that by the close of this decade you will be able to quantify my personality. By the first quarter of 2020 you will be able to understand who I am through a set of metrics as simple as those used to measure the torque of the latest-model Audi or the spring of some brave new toaster.

“This right here,” said the curly-haired, 20-something Apple Store glam-nerd who sold me my latest iPhone, “is the most important purchase you will ever make in your life.” He looked at me, trying to gauge whether the holiness of this moment had registered as he passed me the Eucharist with two firm, unblemished hands...

See what you think.

This isn't a diatribe against smartphones or even iPhones. It's a thoughtful essay and one that made me think about my own time here and how I want to use it. There's also a very cool image that goes along with the essay. It says it's an "illustration" but I think it's a photograph, or a photo/illustration.