“There’s a lot going on today,” I say. “There’s a lot. Are you participating, or simply taking it all in?”
You cross your arms, swiping at a phone app in your exposed hand, angling away. You prop yourself against the bus stop railing, against the frame of an advertisement for a big data management company.
“Seriously, there’s almost too much going on,” I say, leaning into your phone space. “Today is fast, today is slathered in the unflinching velocity of itself – there’s no other choice but to participate.”
The phone dingdongs. You inch the screen closer to your face.
“What do you mean?” you say, dart-scanning a push notification. “I’m busy responding to a message.”
I lean in closer, really disrupting your safe space, breathing nostril fog on your screen.
“You’re busy? This is busy?” I say. “What do you mean? Are you participating or are you just responding?”
“I’m responding to something, hold on,” you sigh. A bus passes by, but it’s not our bus. Not yet.
My hand reaches for your screen-aimed thumbs: “You know,” I whisper, “you know, phones are going to be obsolete in the next decade, right? It’s going to be AR and VR, straight up. We’ll consume content that way, you know, but in new ways. Are you participating in that transition, or are you just going to respond to it, too?”
“Dude,” you say. “Dude. Don’t touch my phone.”
“We’re going to simultaneously revert to old media delivery systems and attach to new ones,” I tell you now, my fingers wrapping around your phone. “Our interaction with technology will become more human, and that’ll free us up to, say, read more books or shop in retail spaces afresh. How we take in and how we find what interests us — it’s going to be weird, man.”
I gently wrestle and grapple your phone from you. It is playful. You don’t laugh, but it is so playful and fun! “This is playful and fun!” I say.
“And this thing,” halfway scaled up the data management advertisement I am saying to you now, “is going to take on a very different role, for reals.”
You’re probably screaming – that’s what it sounds like – but I know you’re only a little flustered about the future, is all. We all are. It’s flustering. “I bet it’s flustering!” I say.
“Dude!” you say. “My phone!”
“Looks like you’re willing to scale the data, too, and reclaim how you want to participate in what’s important.”
I am waving the phone back and forth, air-traffic-controlling you to rise, to pursue, to scale boldly up to where we will go.
“I have a message to respond to,” I say, palm outward and in your face. “Hold on.”
You’ve stopped. So has the bus. The bus is waiting on us.
“What did you, OK, hey, what did you say –” you stammer, phone back in your hand. You are twisting the phone around, getting close to it, shaking it. I have hopped down. I am one foot in the bus, which now waits for us. We are waiting, and the bus is waiting, and you’re still scaling the data and examining your phone.
“I told the person you’ll see them in about a decade,” I say. “You’ll literally see them, and talk to them as though face-to-face, and talk to them about your book club even though they’re in Germany like you’re both hunched over a warm coffee.”
“How did you know we were in a book club?” you say. It starts to sprinkle outside. “How did you know who that was? You couldn’t have known, man.”
“Statements without data are just opinions,” I say as I step into the bus. “I only looked at the last response you’d made and then participated, in this instance, in the conversation at large.”