Hail Holy Phone (or Dating People Who Aren’t There)


I promised I would follow up on the ammunition found on the run last week. See my Vegan With Ammo post for reference. I ran the same route the next day and did not find any more rounds of any caliber on the sidewalk. This made me happy. After a week’s contemplation the most sensible way to dispose of the rounds I confiscated seems to be firing them myself with my neighbor’s weapon. I know a place out on the prairie where folks hunt for quail and small game. I’ll get a nice hike out of it. Maybe find some more fossils. Not a bad deal.

A week of stormy weather forced me into the gym this week for several runs. Although I have never found any ammunition on the treadmill, observation of the annual gathering of the New Year Resolutioners does relieve some of the boredom of treadmilling. The gym floors will be flush with Resolutioners until around March, when they begin to either backslide and return to their recliners, or transition to outdoor rituals. Curious though, is the evolution of gym behavior over the years. Back in the day folks would look around in between their sets/reps/intervals/whatever. Not anymore. Folks either sit on the machines/benches looking at their phones, or stand beside them looking at their phones.

No more eyeballing each other. No more eyeballing the mirror. No more eyeballing the next machine or even the clock on the wall. No more strolling and stretching during those rest minutes. The split second someone is done with a given number of lifts, squats, or extensions, it is straight back to the phone to stand, sit, stare. Cell phone must be worshiped every moment something else isn’t in their hands. Eyes must look nowhere else but at the almighty screen. The only deviation from this lift-phone-lift-phone routine is the pause for gym selfies. I watch with interest from the cardio deck.

The femme folks seem to favor selfies of their own tits and asses. These are the most common shots posed and framed. Occasionally there will be an arm flex photo but these are generally taken from the side so the butt bubble also makes it into the shot. The masculine/butch folks like to primarily shoot their abs and flexed biceps, almost always in the mirror, almost always with earbud cords present, and grim-faced. Not that I don’t sometimes take photos in the gym as well. You’ll see a few at the end of the month. But my point is that the selfie seems to now be a ritual component of the workout. That’s a change from the days of old when showing off for each other meant the other people in the gym as opposed to the digital world.

I remember with amusement the meat market days of gyms in the 1980s, when folks flexed and preened among the free weights to attract and hook up with the people physically present. In 2020 it’s to take a gym selfie to post on a digital dating site or social media to attract and hook up with people not physically present. Or just to be admired; I realize not everyone posting is trying to mate. I wasn’t always trying to mate when I was using social media to be admired. It is nonetheless interesting to note how we don’t interact with people at the gym anymore but we use proof of our presence in the gym to interact with people on the internet.

These are things that occupy the mind on the treadmill when you’re NOT looking at a screen. I’m not judging though. I once shot and posted 365 days of selfies as a wellness practice. It’s not the selfie ritual which amuses me now. It’s the large and small shifts in human behavior over the years (my own included). But speaking of screen time, it is Saturday and I’ve got only a small window before the next round of rain arrives. If I want to stay off the treadmill today I must dash and make the most of it. Wet pavement awaits. Wet pavement selfies await.

— Mercy

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