The next time you’re stopped at a red light look at the drivers around you. Chances are they’re all on a smartphone, occasionally looking up to see if the light has turned green.
Once green they’ll (hopefully) put down their phone and continue driving. We’ve all done it at some point.
Why do we feel the need to scroll through our social networks for the 30-90 seconds we’re stopped? Are they that important? Are we simply addicted? Or is this just how we kill boredom in the modern age of technology?
I often leave my phone in my briefcase in the backseat. When I come to a red light my first reaction – check Twitter. But I can’t. Instead I just sit there and do nothing. Every second that passes is another I could have been connected and consuming. Instead I’m static and in my mind unproductive. I feel alone, cutoff and afraid. Afraid I’ll miss an opportunity to make a joke or be the first in my network to share something.
Why sit there doing nothing when I have the means to do something – even if the productivity of that something is subjective.
Driving is tedious task
When the wheels of the real world come to a stop we rush to immerse ourselves in a world curated to our liking. A world that is always within reach and always on. From one light to the next, we refresh, thump-down, respond.
Asking what it was like before smartphones is like asking what it was like before electricity – no one remembers.
Driving has become just another one of life’s tedious tasks that forces us to put down our digital needle. While driving we see life happening all around us – a patch of trees, a glimpse of a blue sky, a small boy hand-in-hand with his father on the sidewalk. Yet in all this beauty we eagerly await the next red light – our next change to get high again on pixels and hashtags.
Have we become addicts? Or are we simply taking advantage of the short break from the chore that is driving?
Over the years I’ve come to appreciate and respect the Fast & Furious saga. The films don’t offer a deep metaphysical look into humanity nor will they win any prestigious awards, aside from those given by a tequila-infused Jalop scribe. The films are 100% entertainment, but for us car guys they are more than that.
I respect the Fast & Furious series because it captures, even if inaccurately at times, automotive culture and then, through the power of Hollywood, heaves it into the faces of common people. The same people the media say hate cars and care nothing of car culture.
Fast & Furious was a product-of and responsible-for the many Honda Civics you see wearing a 6-ft wing and primer-ready body kits. That’s precisely why I admire the series so much! Automotive customizations are a reflection of activation within the automotive culture, even if sometimes misguided.
Car films are a public service announcement and their message is clear: cars are cool.
After watching these films countless people will leave the theater, jump in their 2009 Camry and drive away wishing they were behind the wheel of something more fast and furious.
For that brief moment they not only get us, automotive enthusiasts, they envy us.
A few of them will walk away with a new or revived interest in the hobby of automotive. They may not jump on Craigslist and start looking at Swedish bricks and Miatas, but maybe when they’re looking for a new Focus they’ll consider an ST.
Automakers can benefit in a very unique way when it comes to this series too.
Car movies are a brothel for automotive product placement, but films like Fast & Furious that rely heavily on customization, gives automakers a chance to show their cars in a very different light –_ an enthusiast hue._ In this shade the audience, who we’ll call potential enthusiasts, get to see vehicles for what-they-could-be rather than what-they-are sitting in dealer inventories. Wild colors, ride heights, wicked sounds, neon glow, custom wheels, expressive vinyls and only-in-the-movies durability and performance: all make cars more attractive than any 30 second spot ever could.
I like to think of Fast & Furious as a car guy’s Star Wars without a complex narrative, but chock full of cultural impact.
That a series like this will help to preserve and evolve a hobby that millions enjoy, even if it means educating our friends on the do’s-and-don’ts of automotive accessorizing.