Don’t write anything you can phone. Don’t phone anything you can talk. Don’t talk anything you can whisper. Don’t whisper anything you can smile. Don’t smile anything you can nod. Don’t nod anything you can wink. — Earl Long
the telephone is a form of terrorism. you see this in the movie the matrix. this is the mode of transportation used by neo and the others. what does it do? it diminishes the person into literal soundbytes. it deconstructs humanity down to nothing more than wavelengths. it takes meaning and suppresses it. but most people use a telephone today. i have ventured to regions where there is so much poverty yet the people groups can afford a telephone or a cell phone.
it’s a tool for communication, but is it? we tend to think of communication as an exchange of sorts. while one person talks, the other listens and so on. but isn’t it even more perverse than that, the phone itself mediates our communication. it carries our message from one end of the earth to the other. and so in a telephone conversation you are never alone. this is not about conspiracy theories, but rather about the mediation of conversation. and for the most part because of new technology we have forgotten how to speak for ourselves, why? because the telephone will do it for us. for all intense purposes the telephone is an object of desire.
we desire communication, but not pure communication, for the telephone instills within us the desire to communicate through mediated avenues. but this is so much more than a telephone, the reality is that a lot of our ability to communicate tends to be mediated. what about the married couple who are struggling to stay together? they then venture off to ask for help (aka, mediation) from a local shrink. or what about a person who is invited to speak at an event and they bring ‘props’ with them to make their point, is it not the same that these objects or props speak for the speaker. it is not that thes are bad in and of themselves, it is that we are then mediated by these things under the guise of pure experience.
lady gaga’s song ‘telephone’ (*click the link above for video and lyrics) demonstrates the frustration with a mediated reality. it is in her reaction to the telephone that gives us some insight to freedom from audio terrorism. it is the complete disregard that needs to be taken note of, that the phone is what desires us (yes, i know in the song she is referring to a guy/girl – but what if she was actually referring to the phone itself?) – impure communication (i define this as communication that is mediated for us) draws us in with the promise of pure communication. with the met desires of intimate contact. we might desire the contact while the phone becomes nothing less of a symbol that represents the desire but masks itself as if to claim it is the desire we seek.
in our culture the telephone has become an icon of communicative connection. but in reality it is a semiotic for communicational dysfunction. it is a constant reminder of our inability to fully communicate. this is not to say we should all go out and throw away all of our phones, but it is a ‘call’ to begin communicating purely. to not rely on that which mediates reality for us.
it is a realization that this object that promises connection is another form of disconnection. it is the fragility held within this object that reminds us of our own fragility. that when we seek out communication we tend to hope for pure connection but in the end are forced to settle for impure connection. we desire the phone because it masks the fear of our inability to speak. we have lost the ability to speak for ourselves. it masks our fears of not knowing how to handle life without technology. and also demonstrates to us the fear of being alone.