Every morning, I have the same routine. I open my eyes, roll over and reach for my iPhone.
By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
The Kansas City Star
I dont know when it happened, but somehow, checking my email, Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram is now a part of my day before my feet even touch the floor.
So I wasnt entirely shocked when I watched the new film Her, the love story of Theodore Twombly and Samantha, his computer operating system who tenderly speaks to him through his earpiece. Its a brilliant depiction of who we are becoming as a nation. So intimately disconnected to everything and everyone.
Writer-director Spike Jonze calls his film an exploration of relationships and intimacy. He doesnt claim to have the answers.
I think technology is doing so many things to us, he told the Salt Lake Tribune. Its helping us connect and preventing us from connecting. I think thats the setting for the movie.
Her is set in a futuristic Los Angeles, but with Siri on our iPhones and programming designed to track and respond to our every move, I think were closer to that kind of life than we realize. This week the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is making headlines for wearable gadgets, specifically the trendy smartwatch. Its not enough to carry our phone everywhere, we want to wear it.
While I dont know of anyone falling in love with Siri, its clear we are tangled up in technology. We are passionate about the people we follow and favorite online. Have you ever seen the comments on Rihannas Instagram? People argue over her clothes, her critics, her everything. Or how crazy people went when celebrity gossip blogger Necole Bitchie didnt post for a few days over Christmas? Fans felt like like scorned lovers. We are married to our digital lives.
As a blogger and social media strategist, Karen Civil sees firsthand how technology is changing everything. She works with the majors Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre and runs a blog.
Its like a gift and a curse, she says. Social media allows celebrities to engage with their fans and still have intimacy and separation, but it also creates a false notion that you must be connected at all times. We cant go to dinner without checking our phones. I think technology takes up 67 percent of our day. I have seen a person drop their phone and treat it like a death in the family.
You dont have to be connected 24/7. You can step away. Spike did a great job at depicting our fascination. We are in love with our devices. Its like another limb. Have you seen the frustration when someone cant get service?
Or when you dont respond to a Tweet. Strangers nudge you when you take too long to play Words With Friends, and people beg you to download the Candy Crush Saga so they can get one more partner. These apps have bitten off pieces of our emotional psyche.
People count Likes and Followers as validation and connectivity, and they build friendships online with people they will never meet. People dont break up in person, they do it via email.
These days, you can finish your cousins Fast Money Round on Family Feud and it counts as an experience you had together. But come on, its just a game. Call your cousin. Go to lunch. Do something.
And thats one of my favorite parts of Her. Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) actually inspires Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) to push beyond his computer and video games. He takes her to the beach, to a carnival and on vacations. He has hard conversations with her, the things he could never talk about before. In turn, he starts to share more with his friends in the physical world, too. By building this strange relationship with his operating system, he learns to reconnect to his analog life.
This digital landscape we live in, like Samantha, is ever-evolving. Like it or not, were becoming a nation of Theodores. But we dont have to get lost in technology. Staying plugged into the real world is what will ground us.