Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash

Every phone case I’ve ever owned has a monster face on it. When I snap it on, it transforms my phone into a little monster too.

(Not a scary monster, but the cute kind, like from Monsters, Inc.)

I’ve always felt this was a good metaphor for smartphones.

We, as a society, love our phone monsters.

  • We like to tap their bellies until they chirp and beep at us.
  • We show them off at parties and have them do tricks for friends and family.
  • We talk to them… and through them… and at them.
  • We get antsy when we’re separated from them for even an hour.

But our phones aren’t some sort of exotic pet like a toucan, cheetah, or capuchin monkey.

They’re, you know… monsters.

While we’ve all collectively decided these are the cute and friendly kind of monster, we really have no proof that this is true.

A foreign body on our body

In reality, our lil’ phone monsters are not things we fully understand.

Never before in the history of humankind have this many people, spent this much time, with this type of device, cradling it intimately against their hearts and hands.

Honestly, we have no idea how this will affect us in the long term. We just know that these monsters mostly make us feel good, so we figure it’ll probably work out for the best.

(Know what else we used to spend all our time cradling because it made us feel good? Cigarettes.)

Not only that, we do not fully control of our monster’s behavior. We’ve left their daily training and supervision to companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, etc., (companies that make a lot of money off our monsters).

Those companies are our monster’s master. We are merely its’ nursemaid, responsible for wiping its’ butt, feeding it juice, and cleaning up its’ messes.

My, my… that’s a big eye

When it comes to cute monsters, we rarely think too long about their big, googly eyes, extra sets of arms, or giant teeth. I mean, we’re pretty sure cute monsters would never use those features to hunt or eat us. But, we really don’t know that for a fact, do we?

A lil’ phone monster is not a bird, a feline, a primate, or any other thing on Earth we have known before. Nor is it a thing fully under our control. And we certainly don’t keep it in a padlocked cage…

  • We keep it in our pocket or purse
  • We use it at home and at work
  • We sleep with it at night
  • We’ve given it to our kids
  • We’ve centered our lives around it.

It’s okay to be concerned about that sometimes, to exercise caution when your monster is roaming free online, to question exactly who’s controlling whom.

It’s okay to occasionally think to yourself, “I really hope that lil’ cutie doesn’t bite.”

© 2021 Jen Kane — All Rights Reserved