Everyone walking along the busy street is staring face-down into their phones. I watch people head-butt each other as they walk down Oxford Street, following the blue dot on Google Maps to their next meeting like their lives depended on it. We all probably know the way already but iPhones have made us question our own ability to figure stuff out ourselves – that blue dot on Google Maps is so enticing, isn’t it? The Blue Dot of Life. God forbid we’d have to ask someone else in real life for help. How embarrassing that would be.
I heard a news story a year or so ago about someone who had died at the wheel while driving because they wanted to tweet something about their cat. Sometimes I have been compelled to tweet or email something I thought was really funny and it didn’t matter if I were about to cross a busy road. I have nearly been run over multiple times by frantically trying to craft a professional-sounding work email while teetering on the edge of a busy street. Then I catch myself: ‘What the fuck are you doing?! This pointless email to a colleague about something totally unimportant CAN WAIT and is not worth me getting hit by an aggressive London taxi driver at full speed.’
What a sad thing that would be to die over. I would want someone to say ‘she died doing what she loved’ not ‘she died cc’ing her colleagues into a really boring email’.
I admit I don’t look up much myself, and I certainly don’t look out of a bus window much any more. When I occasionally do, because my phone is out of battery, I realise how much I miss out: the people-watching, the good views, the little glimpses of couples hugging, a toddler waddling along or a cute dog, because most of the time I’d rather become engrossed with something funny on YouTube instead. I could easily miss seeing a Baz Luhrmann-style shoot-out crime scene out of the bus window because I’d be on my phone, blindly scrolling. We are becoming increasingly oblivious to everything around us, as we become more deeply invested in the online worlds we’ve created. It seems that the only time we really truly take a break from our Internet worlds is when we are asleep. So we’re either online, or we’re dreaming.
How I Grew Up Online
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