I recently bought an iPhone after having a Samsung Galaxy for almost five years. I had lamented the lack of iMessage, the terrifyingly janky emojis (Why does the screaming-in-fear emoji have a GHOST coming out of its mouth?) and the front camera that made me look like a cloudy mirage. Tired of being The Girl with the Green Texts, I switched. The iPhone isn’t a good smartphone. It’s not a humane smartphone.
A couple of weeks ago, I was gazing out at Washington, D.C. from the roof of my friend’s apartment. A few friends and I had spontaneously decided to venture up the many flights of stairs to watch the sun set over the Potomac, the light ever so slightly powdering Georgetown with a touch of rouge. We leaned precariously over the edge, our arms dangling down and the wind whipping our hair in our faces. The air was heavy with humidity. We smelled rain.
It’s the paradox of writing, or the paradox of adolescence, or the paradox of social media or American east-coast elitist culture or something, I think. Your expressions should be sincere but not saccharine, naked so long as you don’t reveal your hedonism or deep (deep) fears or your interests that have crossed the threshold from quirky to strange. Append an all-lowercase “lol” to all your texts.
I am of the opinion that widespread automation in sectors traditionally thought to be “white collar” or non-automatable is coming faster than we’d expect, thanks to the buzziest buzzwords in computing, like machine/deep learning and big data. The robots are coming, rapidly and surely, and we need to be prepared. Automation means quick and concentrated unemployment but also the creation of massive amounts of capital. The talk of the town in Silicon Valley is that public policy needs to catch up to the tech sector by considering universal basic income in order to avoid Great Recession-era levels of unemployment. By “taxing the robots,” we can lift the burden from the working class and instead make long-term investments in education and healthcare that raise quality of life for all. Ultimately, we create more interesting and fulfilling roles for human beings.
The house on the highway had always been here longer than I had. Probably longer than I had been on Earth. It’s seen a hospital erected just across the street and a controversial Walmart built just down the freeway. The house has seen the roads expand so much that it could nibble on the highway asphalt. It’s old. Old, absurd and memorable.
I only recently turned around and noticed the contrast between myself and the Iran I was thrown against. Somehow, when I was younger my legs were longer, or the middle space between the two circles of the venn diagram was smaller, and I managed to barely stretch across the pervasive gap. Now, I struggle to engage intellectually and socially with Iran — the actual one, not my own construction — because I’m left grasping at language and culture from which I’ve fallen behind.
I’m boycotting Klarman hall, or so I tell people angrily whenever people mention Klarman in conversation. I understand this statement is (A) ridiculous considering my presence at Klarman is effectively meaningless, and (B) barely even true because I refuse to miss cauliflower curry day. Alas, I’m supposedly boycotting Klarman. I have some sort of good reasons: The entire “I’m so, uhh weird … I’m interested in, uhh, art” aesthetic feels utterly disingenuous, and the fact that so many people are wearing the same glasses is creepy.
Today at noon, many of you will head out to Ho Plaza and protest Donald Trump’s immigration ban and border wall. Many of you will Snapchat it. Many of you will take photos, and many of you will Instagram them. I mean, that’s exactly what I did in November, when thousands of us walked out of class and marched across campus in solidarity and in protest. There were thousands of bodies standing, hugging, resisting; but above them were countless wriggling hands tightly wrapped around iPhones.
Here I am, on a charter bus to New York City, trying not to let the stranger next to me see me cry. I’ve already totally embarrassed myself thanks to the aggressive screams erupting from my stomach. I’m leaning against the window, stifling my sniffles. Anderson .Paak’s “The Dreamer” comes on, which is a dope song but makes it impossible for me to keep my cool. On my way to the city, there are two stops at Metro stations in northern Virginia.