When you look at the image to the right, what comes to mind? Because for me, the first thought that pops into my head is: “They didn’t feel like paying for WiFi.” Every few years, a phrase that says something along these lines gets popular and it’s always a divisive topic, as is pretty much everything else. This picture went viral on Twitter, when a cafe commented on the use of technology in public spaces. It seems like an innocent joke, but behind it carries so many implications about how people feel about the impact of smartphones on the newer generation. There seems to be a trend of older individuals equating the use of technology by millennials and gen z with antisocial behavior. I do think there is a conversation to be had about when and where it is appropriate to use such technology, but this sense of moral superiority is definitely not the way to do it. Still, people supported the message by tweeting praises about how profound and thought provoking it is. This happens all while ignoring the fact that, for this tweet to even exist, someone had to have taken out their phone and posted a picture of it to begin with. Not only that but supporters of this sentiment were using said technology to tweet their thoughts as well. I hope all this irony wasn’t lost on them, although I suspect it was.
Also, why 1995? The person making it clearly wanted to illustrate some sort of stark difference between modern day and whatever time they wanted people to return to, to presumably show how far from grace we have fallen. Someone else picked up on one of these differences and, in my personal favorite reply, she asked, “Do their prices reflect 1995?” The person who wants people to pretend they’re back in 1995 has a point though. Things now are very different from then. The back end of the 20th century in general is constantly romanticized and longed for. There seems to be quite a bit of that attitude these days, with movements to make things great “again,” if you will. Sure, the 1990’s are a great time to pretend you’re living in, as long as you meet all of society’s standards for the ways you should look and behave. And if you don’t meet those standards, don’t worry, you’ll only have to wait another 20 years or so before (some) people stop murdering you for being different.
In response to this post, and the posts that came before it, the internet came up with Not A Cell Phone in Sight memes. Essentially, someone will post a picture or painting where people are typically suffering and caption it “Not a cell phone in sight. Just people living in the moment.” Here are some of the most notable additions:
Needless to say, people go there. These memes may seem insensitive, and maybe they are, but they’re responding to a movement that only wants to look at the past in a positive light. Just because people don’t/didn’t have phones doesn’t mean one time period is better than the other. This subgenre of meme started as a way to make fun of people who push a return to “the good old days” because that statement never comes with an acknowledgment of all the bad things that happened. I, for one, am not completely happy with everything the advancement of technology has brought with it, but it would be so much more productive to think about ways to actually make the world a better place, rather than using cell phones as a scapegoat for people’s discomfort with change.