Retort: The Mobile Now

4:12:00 PM

A dialogue has opened in this gadgety, mobile-ready culture that proposes this: the modern Joe moves in our midst, but is not really there with us. In at least two podcasts I've encountered, Zencast and TED talks, there's a light, but decidedly concerned frown over the fact that folks these days are so plugged in - to their music, their texts, their mobile gaming, their chats and so on - that the realm of operation for their conscious attention is definitely not with what's in arms reach or in ear shot or in the line of sight or on the pallate, but, instead, in an alternate universe that transcends space and time; they're, instead, in a private space occupied by their friend or colleague in another state, following the rhetoric of a podcast recorded earlier in the week, or otherwise, unrecognizably "altered" to the "Now" - their Now.

It's likely that the dialogue will be ruthless and bloody where families will be torn asunder when either the call goes straight to voicemail too many times or the hubby spends most of the time on the couch staring into a 17" screen while you're both supposed to be watching your favorite show "together" or the estranged son or daughter leads an alternate life that you are definitely excluded from.

Mrs. Manners and the like will have their arms full: answer the cell only when undivided attention for the call is available, or will it be apropos for friends to hear you answer the question "paper or plastic."

It's a versatile, multi-dimensional place these days: The Now. It's an Axial time where information is not just ready and available, but also too loud, too ruthlessly intrusive and violating that perhaps the Now of yesteryear (the '70s and Ram Das) is gone, gone, gone beyond the beyond.

Which is all to say that until some sort of consortium arises to codify the etiquette of mobile electronics, it's likely that we all are haphazardly trying desperately hard to stay connected to our present moment while we stay, irrevocably, connected to the information super highway.

It's perhaps an image of the Now that we could all probably relate to in one way or another: The Now - running a three-legged race while balancing an egg on a spoon.

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