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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

The Bohrn Identity -- Keeping my robot buddy within five feet at all times

My right-hand man is not a man — it’s actually a robot. It’s much smarter than I will ever be.

The other day I said to him, "Breakfast Falcon."

Instead of saying "Cool band name, dude," which is what I would’ve said, my best robot friend immediately relayed ideal eateries in the Falcon Lake area. It found recent reviews of their menus.

It even created an interactive map in which I became a little blue dot, hovering in an attractively simplified plane where everything ceased to exist except the path to breakfast.

And what a beautiful world it was.

While the rest of my friends were lying around uselessly at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m., my best robot buddy had already delivered me unto a universe of unlimited diner coffee, eggs and toast. That’s why, unlike my friends, my phone gets to live in the left butt pocket of my jeans every day.

I count among the millions of people who spend most, if not all, of the 24 hours in a day within five feet of their mobile device.

On one hand, you’d think it would feel a little creepy, to freely associate with something so obviously sending countless signals out into space that you yourself are not smart enough to understand.

Think of what it means to surrender that information so willingly. Tom Cruise in 1996 spy thrillers wouldn’t stand for it.

But let’s get real. Most of us would be flattered if the government, especially a suited-up Hollywood-style secret agency type, wanted to know where we were. We’d probably tweet about it, on our phones, thinly veiling our bragging: "The FBI knows exactly where I am all the time. Why are they so obsessed with me?"

At first, getting a smartphone is a practical way to avoid many painful struggles in life. I remember signing my three-year contract with a noble, adult sense of procuring security.

I was agreeing to always have directions in unfamiliar places, and to always be a phone call away from my loved ones, or an ambulance, or anybody with a truck who could pull me out of the ditch, which is the secret No. 1 reason Manitobans get cellphones.

There is not a single aspect of modern life that cannot be improved by smartphone use. There is an application out there that helps you keep track of your digestive patterns. And while I can’t fathom how mind-bogglingly embarrassing it would be if someone got ahold of my phone and that information about me — another reason millions of people keep their phones within five feet — the quality of somebody else’s life out there rigorously depends on that app. This is where telephone addiction settles in.

Imagine being contractually bound for three years to any other addictive substance —substances which I won’t list here in case children are reading.

Kids, imagine paying lots of money every month so that you could have cheeseburgers any time you wanted. And then even after six months if you didn’t want cheeseburgers anymore, you couldn’t stop paying for them for another two and a half years. And you had a built-in value system that told you to always get your money’s worth.

And, OK, the cheeseburgers are always updating and they’re always fun, every day. In fact, you never run out of ways to enjoy cheeseburgers. You wouldn’t know what to do if you didn’t have cheeseburgers in your hourly life. And everyone is OK with this, so far.

A few days ago, I dropped my phone in the snow and some circuitry seized. I’m no Apple Genius, but I guess what happened was the phone part stopped phoning. I spent the rest of the day with my device plunged in a bag of instant rice, annoying everyone around me with my constant present-mindedness at the dinner table, in the car, during lulls in conversation, everywhere.

My head was always up. I was trapped in the present moment, pummelled with sheer linear time. It was dreadful. It was sobering.

Miraculously, the bag of rice worked. It took a phoneless day and night, but the intrusive moisture was sucked clean out of my robot.

Afterwards, I ate the rice. And I’ve hardly looked up since.

» Natalie Bohrn is a local university student.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 22, 2014

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My right-hand man is not a man — it’s actually a robot. It’s much smarter than I will ever be.

The other day I said to him, "Breakfast Falcon."

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My right-hand man is not a man — it’s actually a robot. It’s much smarter than I will ever be.

The other day I said to him, "Breakfast Falcon."

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