I saw Her this weekend with my friend Ginnie, post-Oscar hype. We’d wanted to better understand our computer and game-fixated sons. Would they fall in love with their operating system? Should we set her a place at the dinner table?
We came away with so much more than we were expecting. Wonderful acting, subtle visual play, lots of ideas to ponder about the future of technology and humanity.
Set in the not-too-distant future, hero Theodore, an older digital native, enjoys heart-tugging hologram game characters, can’t-sleep sex sites as well as listening and talking, instead of reading and writing, to computers, phones and similar devices. Mind you, this may be less a prediction and more the fact that talking lends itself better to movies.
What struck me, probably because I’d been working on an email seminar earlier that day, was the enduring stream of email. Samantha the operating system was frequently alerting Theodore to new email. And Theodore was eager to receive his messages, though he quickly skipped or deleted many.
My first love
Unlike Theodore and the digital natives, my generation welcomed email, a game-changing way to connect with colleagues and friends. Although email is still the best for business communication, much of our friendly conversations have moved to social media and texting.
I enjoy sharing photos with a wider group than I’d send them to via email. Often I prefer quick messages by text because I’m less likely to miss them.
That’s because sorting through my inbox has become such a chore. No matter how many times I unsubscribe, more unwanted content creeps in. It’s like Herakles cutting off one of the heads of water serpent Hydra only to see two more grow.
Like 800 numbers and private callers
More and more frequently I find I’m ignoring emails, much like I rarely answer the phone unless I know who’s calling. Email is slumping to the phone priority of 1-800 numbers and private callers. And, remember old dudes, telling a woman you’ve been trying to call but the number was always busy makes you look at least 80.
Because email was my digital first love, there will always be a special place for it in my heart. I remember how I used to anxiously check my email the moment I got in. Maybe I’d hear back from my current crush or the client I urgently needed an approval from. Now it’s not even connected on my smart phone. If somebody important wants me, they’ll text. Plus, working mostly from home, I’m not that mobile.
Matter of fact, I don’t recall much texting in the movie, even though that can be easily portrayed on screen, as was shown in House on Cards.
Truth or fiction?
Given that the digital natives aren’t into email, what has to change for Spike Jonez’ email predictions to come true? Or was email, like conversing, something that simply worked better on film?
Like Herakles, will we figure out how to cauterize the stumps to prevent regrowth? Will we keep listening to the first snippet then telling Samantha (think I’ll give mine a nice guy name like Tom) to delete, so we don’t miss that nugget that will make our day?
I’ll probably never know. But I love movies that get me asking questions.
Got any answers?