Monday, October 25, 2021

Not yet over my mom’s death by over social media! A mother and her mobile phone

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Season 2 Part 1

I think most of us use our smartphones as if we were magically connected with the most important person in our lives. But for many of us, no matter how dire our situation, the incessant buzz of electronics can make us believe that we’re still rich, healthy and living the glamorous life. So I wrote that my smartphone actually destroyed my relationship with my mother. She died 20 years ago, and I thought my mobile device was contributing to her death. Here’s what happened…

Kimmy Schmidt is mad at herself

Kimmy Brown, played by Ellie Kemper, is the protagonist of an excellent new comedy series, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” about a woman who has been trapped in a doomsday cult for 16 years. Disappointed with her dating prospects after escaping the cult (don’t get me started on her latest boyfriend), Kimmy decides to test her batteries in her phone in hopes that it will help her find an engaged, salt-of-the-earth guy. For the record, my phone does not have a battery.

I only need six months to find love

I followed Kimmy’s pathetic efforts to find “Mr. Right” with extreme jealousy. I saw the zeal with which she highlighted the avocado “how-to” instructional videos her friends shared. I know how she would have converted my friend’s lunch table to an audience of test subjects, but my phone is unused after several years of calling and texting friends, and I am quite content.

My mom’s on Facebook

My Mom taught me how to tolerate arguing with my brother over the new episode of “Nashville” that appeared on Netflix. But Facebook is another case altogether. To the untrained eye, it is an intimate, public collaboration of past and future friendships that are simply becoming obsolete. We use our social media apps to keep up with our fellow friends and family members. But it is mainly a means to get Facebook users to share their company’s latest mega-hit video or their vacation selfies. And most people are oversharing. Are we supposed to feel like our parents are public figures?

In our increasingly personal social media interactions, the people who made us feel like angels each other – our lovers, parents, friends – are also putting themselves out there, and my mother died two decades ago. Just like Kimmy, my mobile device’s sensors and algorithms consistently mistake my own digital behavior for someone else’s (as though I am sending her texts or waiting for her to call).

I am still alive, you know

Many modern phones now connect through GPS, which provides users with layers of information about their locations. But this can help solve some real world problems. One of the best applications of GPS technology, I find, is its uncanny ability to help navigate me safely home. But it also leads me to blindly wander out into my neighborhood in rural Pennsylvania, just because the phone can calculate my position from my proximity to someone who’s still alive. As a result, while I didn’t miss much because my mother is dead, she was still alive for only three months before she died.

When is my brain dead?

I see Kimmy’s relationship with her mobile device as symbiotic. It feeds back and forth like our batteries do on my phone, but I think the relationship is that much stronger than with our own bodies. We’re like the dynamic central characters of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. They’re increasingly independent and unattached. We may know that our batteries will die eventually, but we’re still distraught by their every belch, drip, humming motion, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep.

Angela Kinsey is known for her role as Denise on “The Office.” She is currently based in New York and has appeared in “Natasha Lyonne: Sometimes.” Angela has a degree in English from Williams College and studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Bazaar, The New Yorker, Mic, HelloGiggles, TIME, Mother Jones, The Guardian, and on the New York Times Bestseller List. She has also written for Vogue, Glamour, Redbook, and Teen Vogue.

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