Lurching Towards Oblivion

Every morning and every evening I have to brave the outside world to make my way from where I sleep to where I spend my days. This has never been a pleasant task, but in recent years a new threat to my sanity has risen.

It started with just the odd one or two, but now I see them everywhere. Standing or slowly walking, as if in a daze, with shoulders slumped forward and downcast eyes. Their faces, slack jawed and vacant, show a feint blue tint, more visible in darkness or in the half light of morning or evening – by the warm light of day you might not even see what they have become. Try to speak to one and, if they even notice, they will most likely not respond with anything more than a grunt before continuing exactly as they were before. Ask them to move aside and you’re likely to be met with a snarl or a growl.

They seem oblivious to the world around them as they lurch their way around the streets, paying no heed to the safety of others, or indeed of themselves. They pay no heed to events around them – stepping into traffic or stumbling blindly into each other. Such considerations mean little to them now. All that matters now is their new source of nourishment – provided to them by the sickness that has eaten into their minds. They hunger only for updates or news, which can only be supplied by their iPhone.

But it’s even more insidious than that… the iPhone plague has removed their self. Their very essence of being is gone, subsumed by updates from the other. They have no care for themselves or their immediate surroundings, only what is happening elsewhere and to other people. They, themselves are gone – all that remains is a shell that lives only to consume data.

But there is still hope…


Maybe we can save them!

The iPhone Zombie lives to consume data, and one form of data that they consume most readily is the app. It may be possible to use these apps as the vector for a form of innoculation – a means to remind these poor creatures that they have self. A small few who have been exposed to the iPhone menace have proven to be resistant, and are able to continue to function as normal human beings. We need these brave people, and we need to make use of their rare immunity.

Some of these brave few may be able to concoct our innoculation. They may be able to create apps to do the following:

  • Periodically remind the iPhone’s victim to look up and survey their immediate surroundings for hazards or annoyed people, and to move or act accordingly. If this can include a game where you score points for actively not blocking pavements (sidewalks for you american types), doorways or roads, then we might be on to a winner.
  • Periodically remind the iPhone’s victim to acknowledge the presence of the friends they are out with. Again, a game where points can be scored for engaging in meaningful dialogue without iPhone interruptions could be a good thing.
  • Periodically remind the iPhone’s victim that they have physical presence – the iphone has a camera and various motion sensors. Perhaps adding a dashboard that reminds the user that they are moving and should perhaps look where they are going, or even visually and audibly alerts them to the presence of other people (or at least, their feet) in the camera’s view. Whilst it might be beneficial to also alert based on the presence of inanimate objects, this is less urgent – sudden unexpected contact with such items has two beneficial effects: first, it tends to break the iPhone’s hold over it’s victim for a few seconds as their self is shocked back to the surface. Second, it provides the rest of us with one of the few moments of light hearted relief from the knowledge of what our friends have lost.

I’m sure there are many other ways that we could start the long, hard process of rehabilitation, but these would be a start. Lets hope they come into being sooner rather than later.

Other Strains…

The iPhone Zombie is not the only strain out there. New variants are appearing daily, but they are, as yet, less immediately obvious. This isn’t to say they’re less insidious – just that they are harder to identify.

In all seriousness

This morning, I once again had an iPhone zombie stop sharply right in front of me, completely blocking the pavement. I also saw somebody blindly step out into traffic whilst staring blankly at their iphone screen. I saw somebody miss their stop on the train because an iPhone zombie wouldn’t get out of the way of the doors, or even acknowledge the presence of people trying to get past them. Having space to view their screen was more important than other people’s journeys.

I am aware that there are many considerate and reposible users of mobile internet technology. This post is directed at the other kind. If you are reading this on your iPhone, please try not to be one of them. Look up once in a while. Try not to walk into traffic. Look your friends and faimily in the eye, and try to listen to a whole sentence once in a while without looking at your iPhone.