Lauren Rabaino

The references were hard to ignore. An iPod here. A Mac start-up noise there. Pixar’s newest animated movie, WALL-E, couldn’t have come at a better time.

The film tells the story of a world deserted by the civilization that destroyed it. Humans pick up and leave in a spacecraft, while robots are left to clean up the mess.

It’s a foreshadowing tale that may not be as futuristic and fantastic as we’d like to think. Humans of WALL-E’s time stop interacting face-to-face, and all necessities are available at the touch of a button, no effort required.

The characters in the movie are constantly in communication with each other, but only through video chat. They don’t even take the time to get to know people sitting next to them.

Feel painfully familiar? Say hello to the iPhone, the latest version of which was released within the same week of the movie’s premiere.

The days of pulling over and asking for directions are replaced by a little flashy blue dot on a GPS screen. And the notion of getting up and talking to your roommate in the next room? Forget it – all you really need is instant messaging. (Seriously, I’ve seen it happen).

Increasingly, we are becoming people so wrapped up in a cyber world that we are forgetting how to live in the real world.

The one time I went downtown this year with a few girls from class, we found ourselves at one point standing at a Higuera Street intersection, each having a separate conversation on our phones. It’s a sad reality.

The release of WALL-E and the iPhone 3G was so perfectly synchronized that it was almost as though the movie was intended to show us the inevitable outcome of the product release. As the download speeds of these phones continues to increase, the less we’ll have to do… well, anything. You can do your work, rent movies, get directions… order food?

That’s right, this transformation into a technologically dependent world isn’t only happening on a corporate level. An advertisement conveniently placed in the left-hand navigation of my Facebook page this week introduced me to something I’d never seen before: ordering food from your cell phone.

A small, privately owned restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo now allows customers to order food through their mobile service by directing a phone’s web browser to the online menu. Although I understand the convenience factor involved, what’s the rush?

Are lunch breaks universally getting shorter, or are we just wanting to spend more time sitting at a table with our phones, and less time having to stand in line and possibly be forced into human interaction?

I’m realizing more and more that all this innovation is less about necessity and more about taking advantage of the ability. I don’t need to order my food online, but if I can, sure, why not?

That must have been how it started in WALL-E. Humans said, “Sure, why not?” to technology and didn’t know where to draw the line. But by the end of the movie, after turning off their video chats, there is a new appreciation for life, love and friendship.

We should all learn a lesson from the heartwarming animation (I know I need to). Every once in a while, take out those ear buds and listen to the sounds around you. Let those text-messaging fingers rest and take a minute to shake someone’s hand. Watch a movie on a real TV, not a 2-inch iPhone screen. Laugh with someone in person instead of LOLing.

Lauren Rabaino is a journalism sophomore and Mustang Daily reporter.

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