Heads Bent

Men wear face masks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus as they use their mobile phones in Phnom Penh on March 18, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

Who has not seen a delivery man on a motorcycle threading his way through the traffic, one eye on his smartphone despite the danger to his life. No doubt he is looking at Google Maps to find the way to the customer’s home, or he is taking note of his next delivery. Head bent.  

Who has not seen a group of young people at the table of a trendy café, each of them tapping away on his smartphone without worrying about keeping the direct conversation going. They talk using screenshots. They see themselves with the others on photos created for social media. Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and so on. Head bent.

Who has not seen children drawn into the images that appear one after the next on dad’s or mom’s smartphone. The child is no longer there, with us.  He is body and soul into this databank with an endless supply of video images with no one to hold his hand. Head bent.   

Who has not seen at a meeting speakers running out of breath in front of an audience whose large majority cannot resist compulsively checking notifications. Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, etc. Who is contacting me? Why are they not contacting me? I want the screen to tell me I exist. Head bent.

Head bent until the accident, death maybe. Head bent until narcissism. Or self-loathing if one becomes the target of malicious people. Until solitude. Head bent until becoming a stupid teenager and an ignorant adult. Head bent until one lives solely through notifications. By proxy.   

Head bent like an animal on which one has put blinders to force it to obey. 

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