The Screen People: A Parable

Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.
— A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting

Looking back to the middle of the 21st Century, historians ascertained that homo sapiens of that era had developed an unusual attachment to a screen technology that had a devastating impact on their ability for intimacy with other fellow human beings. This obsession with screens was so ubiquitous, their characteristics consisted of small 2" up to 72" devices  found in households all across the world, as well as public gathering places, and attached to their physical bodies. It is speculated that these digital machines connected into a large network of human knowledge known as the noosphere, the supposed next developmental stage in human evolution.

As these means of communication occupied more of peoples' waking hours, there was an increase in anxiety, depression, insomnia, and isolation affecting everyone from children to the elderly. Many of these disorders were treated with pharmaceuticals to relieve the symptoms but failed to treat the underlying cause related to the lack of human ability for intimacy. 

This vast network became irresistible like the sirens in the Odyssey. Screens were an instantaneous portal into the vast array of knowledge, yet the lack of intimate connection seemed to suffer. Our birthright of being in community began to erode. Parallel play, a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other but do not try to influence one another's behavior, became more typical of adult behavior. We were truly alone together.

There were some in the culture that recognized the malady and created "technology free zones" to create space for those willing to build community and relearn the art of personal relationships that emphasized  love and compassion through deep listening. These small enclaves became a refuge for many as the overall discontent of the culture increased.

And then it happened.  A massive world-wide failure of the power grid that brought the world into darkness, immediately reducing all screens to a similar fate. Chaos reigned for many decades, and had it not been for the wisdom of the small tribes who had created a flourishing alternative society based on cooperation and intimacy, the human race may have plunged into permanent darkness.