The modern smartphone, for all its utility as a way of capturing crimes in process, waddling babies, and public disasters, has one chilling effect on society: it's now dangerous to get insanely fucked up in public. And that's a damn shame.
Take this gentlelady at Miami's ULTRA music festival, a carnival of tacky bass, gaudy colours, and MDMA, who took to making out with a tree. Why? Because she was likely on some horrific cocktail of drugs, alcohol, and dubstep. We're not sure which of the three is the most toxic, but the combination is clearly potent. She tries to have sex with a tree! This wouldn't work for reasons of physiognomy, genetics, and cultural mores, but she sure tries. She tries because, man, she wanted to. She was at a music festival; she was blitzed into the stratosphere, and she wanted that tree. She wanted to have sex with that tree, and she wasn't hurting anyone, and we live in a liberal democracy that's shed a lot of its Puritan restraint.
But this woman can't do what she likes without being YouTube shamed. It's impossible for her, or anyone else with some pills and a dream, to live free. To live free, and young, and without care. At the slightest provocation, you're guaranteed a league of smartphone surveillance and immediate sharing. You'll be uploaded in a flash. Your private moment of arboreal bliss transforms into so many views that the video is taken down and then re-uploaded multiple times.
The consequence is that we're all a little less fun—or headed that way. Within 15 seconds, even the slightest indiscretion, spilled drink, or untucked shirt can be recorded and texted or Instagrammed about. Our phones are better in the dark than ever before. They'll only get better. And once we're not safe to be silly in complete beer-darkness, we'll be skittish. Tense. Paranoid. And we'll be hypocrites, too: shame-shots get thunderous likes across social media, so we're at once turned on by exposing our friends' missteps, and terrified of making our own.
We don't even have Google Glass yet.
Imagine if they'd had smartphones at Woodstock? Would we be watching videos of our parents having sex and staring at clouds? Probably not, no—they'd be too worried about winding up on Reddit. So thanks, us, for making us too anxious to have horrific fun.