The future is here and.... nooooooooo!

So, today, for the first time ever, I saw someone out in the lineup PULL THEIR iPHONE OUT OF THEIR BOARDSHORTS AND CHECK THEIR MESSAGES! Not voicemail, but texts or emails or social media or the swell report or something.

Say what now?

He never took a photo, never took a call, but while I was out there I saw him check his phone a few times and it totally bummed me out.

I'm guessing that people using their mobiles in the water is going to increasingly become a thing, and I've been sadly trying to comes to some kind of terms with it for a while because one of the things that I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really love about surfing is that it's forced time away from that stuff. Like flying where you can could just sit back and do other things because you can't couldn't check your emails. It's like when I go for an after-work walk and don't take my phone unless I want to take pictures. I have a separate iPod so I can have tunes without my phone for that very reason.

I love that when I paddle out it's just people and the sea (and Go-pros now I guess). People sitting quietly alone or with others. Or (if I'm around) people talking and laughing with friend with no distractions other than waves or a turtle or a bird or (again, if I'm around) a cool-looking cloud. The idea that folk will have their heads down checking messages or posting to Instagram or doing anything that isn't paying attention to the incredible beauty and thrill of being in the sea and under the sky is so heinous that it makes me feel SAD IN MY HEART.

When I saw this guy, head down, scrolling through his screen I wanted to paddle over and say, 'Sir, I'm judging you right now. Judging. You.' Because I was. But I didn't. I just silently judged him, emitted one of those internal, existential screams that tear at your soul every now and again, and took a deep breath.

And then I caught a bunch of really long, fun waves and got caught on the inside by a massive set and was wrenched around by the ocean and felt awesome!


  1. I've always said if I ever see that (and I'm sure it's just a matter of time), I'll paddle over and test whether the phone floats. At least, that's what I'll want to do...

  2. Alicia1:28 PM

    Oh my...that is so crazy! That makes me feel sad too. I met a an old friend last week who pulled out an old Nokia when we were having lunch. She is the only person I know who doesn't have a smartphone! I thought that was awesome!

  3. Anonymous8:58 AM

    get his phone number, ring him when he's in the water, tell him his car is on fire ..

  4. That's horrifying. Thank you for the thoughtful essay.

    I'm waiting for some sort of counter-movement to this bullshit pseudo-connectedness. In the meanwhile, I do not own a mobile phone, and will hold out as long as I'm not "required to" by a job.

  5. With all respect, that bullshit pseudo-connectedness is the future. I'm not saying is good, but it's not necessary bad. We are in the middle of a revolution and the world is changing. Like it always does.
    Saying "i'm not part of it" it's just like pure blindness.
    I come from a very small country town and my grandma once told me about the old local preach, who every sunday spoke against that new devil box called television. My family had one at that time and they had some hard time because of that. It sounds like a movie but it was just reality for my grandma.
    Now you can laugh at that. Well, in few year you will laugh at what you wrote up here.
    We need to learn how to manage and relate to new things, not refuse them.

  6. Fed,

    We have gotten into a serious mess because of an uncritical acceptance/lionization/canonization of a woven bundle of technological innovations and capitalist forces.

    I agree that we do indeed need to learn how to manage "new things". That's exactly what I'm proposing too.

    What is gained and what is lost in this new age of instant "interconnectedness"?

    Gained: ability to organize for political action purposes... to share information that can be useful in some way. Ability to connect with friends anytime, anywhere.

    Lost, or seriously jeopardized: Solitude for introspection, space to be and to think. Mental/spiritual quiet. A whole different sense of time- slower time. A basic, essential connection with life on this planet and yourself; a holistic awareness of yourself.

    Can you elaborate on the revolution that you speak of? What is it, and what is it doing? What is being changed exactly?

    I don't see it. I see a new tool, but besides Obama getting elected (...) and Arab Spring (...!), I'm just seeing a sort of race. A race between having this new, potentially revolutionary tool, and a slide into numb self-absorption and useless distraction using the same tool.

    By the way, I don't laugh at the idea of TV as a technological innovation with negative effects. That analogy makes me question how deeply you think about these issues, Fed.

    I'm not saying "I'm not part of it" I'm saying the sort of invasion of a holy space that Rebecca writes about is something I vigorously reject, for the reasons I outlined. If it comes off as unthinking, believe me, it's not. I'm 52, grew up in a time before all this- including answering machines for your landline- and I'm here to bear witness that something special and real is being lost, rapidly.

  7. Hi,
    the revolution I refer is the digital revolution we are witnessing right now. It is changing the way we access information, services, our lifestyle, creativity and communications. And jobs. And business.
    Things are changing very fast, and it's a revolution in the same way it was the one we called 'industrial revolution' 2 centuries ago.
    That one had two major consequences: someone got to live a good life (and we are the lucky ones) , some others, the majority, went from poor to desperate.
    But the fact that most of the people in this planet have a miserable life, isn't because of the steam engine or electricity, but because the way greedy men used them.
    Also, I don't totally agree with you on what is being lost. Yes, you can loose time for yourself. But that depends on your values and your education. I still have the time to read on a lazy afternoon. The time to watch the sunset after work, to talk to my partner, to my friends. To lay on my bed and watch the trees outside the window. And go surfing.
    The key, as you also agree, is education.
    We need to learn and understand what's happening around us, and possibly lead our kids.
    But there's no room for rejection, as the world won't stop because I, or we don't like it.
    And yes, I laugh at that stupid preach who gave my family an hard time years ago. I grew up watching 1 or 2 hrs of cartoons on tv when I was a kid. Well, I don't think that devil ruined my life.

    An funny enough, the other day I went surfing at 6am, having promised to be back at 8am to go for breakfast. Well, I was almost alone and the waves were good. At 8am I really whished I had a phone with me to text my partner that I was definitely going to be late. Very late. Instead I had to give up and go back to the car.
    I definitely thought about this post!


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