Louis C.K. hates smartphones, but in a totally Louie way that cuts to the exact reason we all sort of resent the gadgets on which we’ve come to rely so freaking heavily.
A few years back, Louis C.K. did a brilliant takedown of smartphones and tablets and their negative effects on society (jokingly) in a bit that has come to be known as “everything is amazing and no one is happy.” Speaking at the time to Jay Leno, Louis mused about how a shockingly strong and ingrained form of entitlement seemed to follow the omnipresence of smartphones, one that blinds us to the magical future in which we all reside today.
Louis C.K. isn’t a luddite — in fact, he pioneered digital distribution in comedy not too long ago when he directly sold his newest special across the web for $5. But he does not think too much is better because of smartphone ubiquity — and he suspects the devices and their prevalence amid younger groups is diminishing, among other things, our abilities to be empathetic to others and handle a general lack of stimulation.
The comic launches into a side-thing about the crushing sense of sadness and loneliness with which all human persons live, but before that, he addressed kids and cruelty, explaining:
“I think these things are toxic, especially for kids…they don’t look at people when they talk to them and they don’t build empathy. You know, kids are mean, and it’s ’cause they’re trying it out. They look at a kid and they go, ‘you’re fat,’ and then they see the kid’s face scrunch up and they go, ‘oh, that doesn’t feel good to make a person do that.’ But they got to start with doing the mean thing. But when they write ‘you’re fat,’ then they just go, ‘mmm, that was fun, I like that.’ ”
But then he says that people are constantly texting and driving because they can no longer handle feelings of sadness, loneliness, and despair at all — much less benefit from those experiences.
In a really majorly touching anecdote, the Louis star tells Conan O’Brien about a recent Twitter impulse during a moment of sadness — and what he then realized.
Louis gets a bit existential, and observes that humans need to “build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something,” and that “phones are taking away… the ability to just sit there… being a person.”
“That’s why we text and drive. I look around, pretty much 100 percent of the people driving are texting. And they’re killing, everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.”
The comedian himself experienced that self-same impulse — to blindly reach out in a moment of sadness, listening to Bruce Springsteen. But he resisted, explaining:
“And I go, ‘oh, I’m getting sad, gotta get the phone and write ‘hi to like 50 people.’ Then I said, ‘you know what? Don’t. Just be sad. Just let the sadness, stand in the way of it, and let it hit you like a truck.’… And I let it come, and I just started to feel ‘oh my God,’and I pulled over and I just cried like a bitch. I cried so much. And it was beautiful. Sadness is poetic. You’re lucky to live sad moments.”
Watch Louis C.K. on smartphones, toxic connectivity, and the upside of crushing sudden depressive states, above.