Rees' Pieces: iBM

Ben Rees


With the recent releases of the iPhone 5s and 5c selling over nine million units within the first week, something horrifying has become clear to me. As a species, consistent connectivity has penetrated every aspect of human life. For some purposes this is fantastic. People can communicate in emergencies and perform amazing tasks at tremendous speeds.  (At this point, I feel obligated to warn you that extremely posh and elegant humor lies ahead, as you may or may not have inferred from the title of this piece.) But, as cultural beacons Trey Parker and Matt Stone articulated, “toilet-time is the last bastion of American freedom,” and there is a reason King Louis the XIV built a golden commode—he valued his time there.

I am never one to stoop below the level of appropriate and highbrow, but I cannot let this cultural phenomenon go unnoticed. How many people bring their phones into the bathroom and everywhere else? The answer is most. I have made my feelings clear about the bathroom as a haven for people everywhere. As you can see from a prior article on restroom graffiti, “[The bathroom] is a place for unabashed indulgence in the most basic syntax; yet, it is also a haven for raw emotion. The restroom is exactly that–a place for rest and intellectual cathartic release” (Rees, 2012). Take the word of someone that cites himself in his own school newspaper column, this space matters, and phones, tablets, and laptops are draining it dry of its feeling and emotion.

Notice the absence of graffiti on bathroom stall walls. New restrooms in Academic West have yet to be graced with artistic expression! If this were the 90s, there would be at least 15 phone numbers for a “good time” and eight or nine people deemed “stoopid” spread across the walls.

Bathroom technology also leads to health issues. Toasted skin syndrome is a real ailment. That is not funny. Toasted skin syndrome (Erythema ab igne for short) may be caused by leaving one’s laptop on their bare thighs for too long. That should be the funniest line in this column. This pandemic stems from the long-term placement of one’s laptop upon their thighs. I understand that chaffing can be problematic and that toasted skin syndrome from other causes is real, but a diagnosable condition arising from lengthy toilet sessions on AIM says a great deal about our society.

I’m not advocating that people unplug. In fact, I suggest that you plug in more. Whenever you need to attend the powder room, plug your phone in so it can charge and catch a break somewhere else in the house. Chances are that with all your incessant tweeting and emailing your phone needs a break from all of your crap anyways.

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