Daily prompt: Describe your relationship with your phone.
Servaas looks at the small instrument in Gertruida’s hand with a considerable amount of scepticism.
“That is a phone?”
“That’s right! It’s one of the new ones. Look: it’s got a bigger screen.”
“So, where is the wire? It’s got to be connected to a pole. Everybody knows that. You’ve been had…”
“No man. It’s wireless. 3G. You don’t need the old wires any more. And it can text. You can even surf with it…”
“Look, Gertruida. I’m maybe a bit old-fashioned, but if you try to balance on that thing – in the sea, nogal – you’ll electrocute yourself. It’s like when the lightning strikes the wire on the next farm. Gives you a helluva shock. Water and phones don’t mix.”
“Not in the sea, Servaas. On the Net.”
“Pull the other one, will you? I saw a man try that once. It was when the circus came to Upington a few years ago. They shot him from a canon and he was supposed to land on a net. Maybe the wind was wrong, or he had too much to eat that afternoon; but he never made it that far. Broke his arm, he did. You want to go on the net, it’s your business. I’m just telling you it’s dangerous.”
Gertruida tries another angle. “Look, this is the camera. It takes real great photos. Even videos.”
“Ha. What are you going to snap with that small lense? Ants? Crumbs? Flies? Why would you want to do that? If you can see them, that’s all you need. Why photograph them?”
“And it’s got a GPS. It tells you where you are.”
“Now that’s rich! The Japanese have finally come up with something useful! I can see it: Im walking down Voortrekker Weg, on my way to Boggel’s Place. Then this thing tells me I’m in Voortrekker Weg, on my way to Boggel’s Place. Isn’t that wonderful? I suppose it can tell me to stop walking now, I’m in my bedroom. Then it’ll order me to undress and go to bed? It’ll be like being married again. No thank you…”
“Ag, Servaas! Stop it. Look, with my banking app it can act as a mobile bank branch. I can do all my banking stuff on it. That means I don’t have to drive all the way to Upington to pay my accounts.”
Servaas takes the cellphone from Gertruida, turning it around and around.
“No, thanks. I want to look a teller in the eye as he counts out the notes. Banks have nice young ladies with short skirts and nice smiles. What happens if you get the wrong bank? With this thing you can’t tell. What’s an app, anyway?”
“It’s an application for an appliance, dummy. There are thousands of them and they all fit into this litte thing.”
That’s where she loses Servaas. A phone is for talking and listening – anything more will be the start of a catastrophe. He can just see it:
One of these days, people will have little implants on their arms with a small receiver in the brain. They’ll think it’s the ultimate technology and will stand in queues to get the newest model. They’ll listen to music, get news updates, receive their salaries and pay the groceries with the new I-con (for: I Contact). Nobody will buy newspapers or books – you’ll be able to summons anything up with your I-con. Hard cash will become obsolete. Talking will be unnecessary. You’ll be able to tune in to anybody, wherever they are.
And then, one morning, they’ll all wake up and stop thinking. The I-con will do it for them. It’ll program entire populations to start doing strange things. It’ll tell them where to gather and what to do. Governments will fall. Armies will march. Unthinking fingers will press the launch buttons on consoles. Bankers will watch as the numbers on the screen scroll down to zero. And then I-con International will take over and convince their loyal customers they are happy now.
That’s why, he says, there’s little difference between cellphones and the Illuminti (he still maintains they exists) – maybe it’s all the same thing.