iDiots

iDiots
Esther Vargas [CC BY-NC 2.0] via Flickr

Have you observed the growing numbers of a new humanoid species populating our public spaces?  They are especially abundant on the University campus. They look just like real humans, but they have lost all capacity for normal interaction with other humans and have no awareness of their physical environment. They are electronic zombies. They walk with heads down, completely transfixed by small hand-held iPhones, smartphones or similar electronic devices.

They have been bewitched by their iPhones.  Because they have lost all communication with biological beings, and because they are completely oblivious to their own safety or the safety of others, I propose that they be designed as iDiots. I believe they must be former humans who have been infested with some novel kind of electronic-neurological virus sent out from satellites by Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Google or perhaps a consortium of all of them.

iDiots are readily recognized.  They walk with their eyes locked on the little box in their hands, so they cannot see where they are going.  They walk in front of buses, cars, bicycles and pedestrians. Some even do this while riding bicycles or driving cars themselves.  The most advanced forms also have their ears blocked with earphones or earbuds, so they cannot hear warning sounds. iDiots walk blindly in bicycle lanes, even though clearly identifiable sidewalks are immediate parallel to them.  iDiots stumble blindly along crowded sidewalks, expecting others to avoid them. Presumably iDiots frequently collide with one another — one hopes so — but they collide with normal humans too.

iDiots have lost the capacity for ordinary face-to-face oral communication. In a coffee shop I see couples of iDiots, an attractive boy and girl, say, who might be expected to gaze fondly at one another and to share intimate words, but both are locked into their iPhones as though they were alone.  Are they lovers, I wonder, and do they copulate wordlessly in the dark, illuminated only by the little white glowing faces of their cell phones? Or has virtual sex replaced the real thing as completely as conversation has disappeared?

The content of the iDiot’s electronic messages must be very compelling, crucially important, to be so addictive.  Surely it is not just social media twaddle, Facebook exhibitionism, Twitter chatter. After all, the President of the United States cannot express himself in more than 280 Twitter characters. What could be more important than his brain farts?

The abundance of iDiots on the campus of a supposedly highly selective university indicates that they are not lacking intelligence.  Yet they do stupid things. It seems they lack something else: common sense and common courtesy.

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Robert L. Switzer is the author of the non-fiction memoir A Family Farm: Life on an Illinois Dairy Farm (2012). He writes short stories and novels. His short story “Inner Light and Outer Darkness” was published in the inaugural issue (2013) of The Midwest Prairie Review. Bedazzled Ink Publishing published his novel, The Lady Professor, in 2017.