Keep your phone in your pocket and every time you feel it buzz, take it out and check your new messages. Occasionally, you will feel the buzz of an UberBlack, a Google Bus, or an overzealous protester yelling about a wall or how the future is female. Sometimes you will brush your leg against a table or another person. You may mistake the fabric from your jeans for the vibration of your phone. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Calmly take your phone out of your pocket and look at it. You either have a new message or you don’t. Other phones sound exactly like yours.
If there are no new text messages, open Facebook. Keep scrolling until you find a piece of news about the President or the Dakota pipeline or immigration. Click and read. If it seems like something that other people may use to avoid the present moment, share. If you don’t have the energy to share, at least like it. Or love it. If inspiration strikes, comment on it.
If there’s an online petition, sign, comment, and send as a private message to friends who should be more aware of important issues. Persist in commenting and sharing until weak from hunger, it’s time to go to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for a midmorning croissant.
Next, open up your FB messages. Click on your ex, Penelope, to see how long it has been since she has actively used Facebook. Use this data to speculate about how she is spending her days. If she is checking FB every few minutes or hours, feel relieved that she is equally unpresent.
When Penelope is not active on FB, assume she is eating farm to table, or an artisanal donut, or thoughtful and contemporary small plates of roasted Jerusalem artichoke with lavender and sunflower tahini aioli while engaging in conversation with someone who is more attractive than you are. Anxiously await her next Instagram post, in which she will confirm your worst fears of what she had for dinner, while musing on how much she enjoys tuna poke, sesame oil, radish, and nori crackers.
See who she is following on Instagram and confirm that she isn’t cultivating relationships. Pay careful attention to pictures that show her frolicking in Point Reyes or riding her bicycle through Mount Tam. Read through all of the comments. If she is not liking your comments or if she is ignoring your posts, take a moment to drink two cups of coffee from Blue Bottle and feel sorry for yourself. Cigarettes also work. Try not to breathe deeply, rhythmically, or in a way that will slow down your pulse.
If it’s been more than four hours since your exes or crushes have been active, find something to post that will grab their attention without tipping them off that you are constantly thinking about them. A safe bet is a quote about the vastness of human experience by a metaphysical poet like Rumi or Kabir. It’ll be tempting to post an animal such as a cat or a dog performing some type of trick. Don’t resist any of your urges.
Occasionally you will have events that you have committed to. Because many of them will require you to leave your cozy studio apartment, find spaces in which you can check your phone as much as possible. It’s not much different than your pet rabbit, Willie, or your sister’s baby, Mathéo. Show tenderness. If you are seated at a table, rest your phone on your thigh and check your messages surreptitiously by looking down whenever there is a lull in the conversation. Pretend to engage by smiling occasionally and nodding your head. If there’s an annoying friend who lectures you on using tech to avoid being present, simply excuse yourself to use the bathroom. You can check on your phone while you are peeing.
Movie theaters and yoga studios are the worst. If your friend, Stewart, asks you to go with him to see Moonlight or to practice his asanas, politely tell him that you are busy and as soon as you have time, find a birthday party, live band, or work event and click “going” so he will know that you aren’t avoiding him. You’re simply too busy keeping track of everything else. If all else fails, give a sad smile emoji to the people who are pulling you into their present. Say: “I’m taking it one day at a time.” If that doesn’t do it, take your phone out of your pocket and try again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Born in Philadelphia, Ari Moskowitz holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from SFSU, where he was the Editor in Chief of Fourteen Hills. In February '17, he was awarded a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where he was inspired to write from a second person voice. His writing has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Transfer, Red Light Lit, and others. His story, "Three Blinking Dots," was a finalist for the 2016 Glimmer Train March/April Very Short Fiction contest. Based in San Francisco, he has performed in many Bay Area Reading Series Events including LitQuake, BeastCrawl, Quiet Lightning, and Voz Sin Tinta.
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/ari.moskowitz