Patent #003: The PrayerPhone

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Feel like you’re not being heard? Tired of being placed on holy hold, or losing reception during critical spiritual moments? In co-operation with your local government agency, Technosphere Inc.’s new PrayerPhone booths make sure that He hears You! Standard rates for multi-media messaging and data roaming may apply.

To Whom It May Concern:

I write to Techonosphere’s Dept. of Teledigital Communications with troubling news regarding the public prayer line recently installed on my block.

As you are well aware, though public payphones and landlines alike have long since gone out of fashion, the payphone booth as made a unique and specific comeback in providing a direct line to Our Father. I applaud Technosphere on this feat of engineering—given the high traffic of prayers, neither satellites nor angelic switchboard carriers could have possibly processed the enormous volume of calls made from personal lines. The public PrayerPhone thus provides a much needed and cost-effective alternative for the purpose of placing prayer via phone and/or multimedia messaging.

Yet while I appreciate Technosphere Inc.’s role in providing the necessary micro-fiberchord and electro-digitization/tone-of-voice-correction technology platforms for the National PrayerPhone Project, I fear that the firm has failed to ensure equal access to public prayer lines. I would like to suggest a time limit on prayers, or at least a steadily increasing rate for prayer minutes beyond five, which I believe to be more than ample time to place a heavenly appeal.

This issue of access and inequality has beset itself in very personal way upon yours truly, in a situation whereupon a man has taken up permanent residence in the brand-spanking new PrayerPhone installed on my block last month. Not wanting to incur a $500 fee for prayer interruption, I am currently forced to walk over two miles to the next nearest booth every Sunday morning while this shmuck talks off the Good Lord’s ear.

In addition to the inconvenience this causes to other prayerful customers, the situation provokes myriad philosophical questions of great importance. For example, given excess demand for prayer lines, who deserves to speak with God? Shall we decide based on need, re the progressive tax system of yore? Or should prayer minutes be appropriated based on sincerity and selflessness, blessed be the poor, the humble, the meek, and absolutely everyone who is not already condemned, in which case I’m not praying for them no sir because I don’t associate with that type. Finally, and most importantly, it raises the quesiont of who indeed does this man think his is to hog the attention of the Holy and Waxless Ear?

I have tried tapping on the window. I have tried kneeling outside the booth, praying silently (an outdated method which, as we now know, is statistically proven to yield low reception rates.) I have even arrived in ripped jeans with fake blood slathered across my delicate cheekbones, in an attempt to suggest a truly dire need of Heavenly assistance. All to no avail.

In conclusion, and in the name of equality, the Word, and all of humankind, I request that Technosphere resolve the situation immediately by ratifying a speedy-prayer incentive plan, and by possibly instituting the forcible removal of inconsiderate customers from PrayerPhone bother.

Yours in Fellowship,

Citizen 23543

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sure is bright out here: a squinty-eyed debut

I don’t know how much of it was me, how much of it was my parents, or how much was growing up in a town of approximately 4,000 people (on a good day in high tourist season), but I grew up with an almost allergic reaction towards the Technosphere. Out in a cabin in Lake Placid, NY, the closest I came to popular culture re music, video, music videos, and what my parents might have called printed “trash”  was dancing around the living room to my Mom’s old Janice Joplin vinyls. Weekly television hours were carefully monitored and matched the time I had spent reading beforehand. And even then, I squandered my weekly TV hours parked in front of PBS. Though later we moved to the slightly more happening metropolis of Indianapolis, up until age 15, the only CDs I owned were Destiny Child’s self-titled album and Mozart for Kids: The Magic Flute. Needless to say, I was not a cool kid in high school.

And I can’t help but feel that my being brought up under a relatively techno-proof rock is somehow connected to the knee-jerk melancholia I sometimes feel when my dinner date texts through our conversation, when pictures are promised to be posted even before the shutter clicks, and absolutely every time I am affronted with a videogame console.

On a warm evening last week, I caught sight of a line of runners on treadmills, their ears all plugged up with iBuds and could have cried. Over the rush of traffic passing by on Houston, my friend turned to me and said:

We like to think we’re different. But we’re all ants.

So you won’t find me on Twitter or Facebook, there are 1,1065 unread e-mails in my inbox, and my to-do list often consists of a Post-It stuck to the back of an iPhone equipped with exactly zero apps save one–The Free Graphing Calculator.

I assure you, my aim is not to be ironic. Instead, the techno-sphere just makes me queasy, a condition which I have only recently come to recognize as a serious disadvantage. Because there’s something to be said for the collective consciousness that the Technosphere supports. Low-hanging fruit: The Arab Spring, online mini-series, self-publishing, people like this, and cool stuff like this. In short, the Technosphere often makes it possible for ideas  and art to go viral in a way that Post-Its never could. My techno-ignorance also detracts from face-to-face interactions–an inability to recognize Brad Pitt on screen causes peers to feel like they’ve invited their slightly touched Grandmother to movie night. I miss most humor quoting SNL or Top 40 hits because those reference points just don’t exist as tabs in the filing cabinets of my experience.

As is the case for mild acronophobia, I have decided the cure to a techo-allergy is simple: exposure. Having lived in Lake Placid, NY and Indianapolis, IN, I’ve now moved to the big city and can no longer afford to miss out on What Is Cool if I want to run with the in crowd or (as a more modest goal) make friends in general. Thus, this blog shall document my self-guided introduction to the Technosphere. But while embarking on said self-motivated quest, I also feel that there’s something to be said for stillness, for the Tangible, for being deliberately slow. Perhaps the discomfort I (we?) sometimes feel regarding netted and wired circuitry of modern experience is not due to the Technosphere itself, but to an imbalance between the Techno and the Tangible. Therefore this blog is also meant to document my attempt to maintain a balance between the two. Reviews of popular Twitter accounts, crowd-sourced funding strategies, or the algorithmic composition behind Top 40 singles may be followed by a experiments in woodworking or bringing back calling cards over texts. Because that’s how I think it should be in Real Life.

Also, because I’ve recently graduated from liberal arts college and have nothing better to do. That, and the fact that I really want to make friends with the cool kids.