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Mónica Guzmán

Stories at the intersection of tech and life from a boldly connected city.

February 22, 2014 at 10:34 PM

Hey you? You with the phone? Can I ask you some questions?


Have you ever heard of “The Interrogative Mood” by Padgett Powell? Did you know that every sentence in that book ends with a question? If I told you every sentence in this column ends with a question, would you stop reading?


If I asked you to guess — without checking — how many unread emails are in your inbox right now, how close do you think you’d get? Would you say things are manageable in there, or a complete mess?

Is it nice to be away, even for a minute?

Have you been to Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum, and have you seen the exhibit that sums up classic sci-fi stories as “what if” statements, like, “What if your best friend was an alien?” Did you know that Paul Allen founded that museum? If you were to see him on the street (doubtful!), and you were to thank him for something, would it be for Microsoft, the Seahawks, or a wild card, like the millions he’s given to the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence?

Do you think we’re alone in the universe? If in your lifetime we looked for people to colonize Mars, would you apply? Is technology moving too quickly, too slowly, or in the wrong direction, in your opinion? If your future kids or grandkids had the opportunity to select the genetic traits of their children, would you tell them not to, even if they rolled their eyes and changed the subject? On a scale of 1-5, how good would you say you are at taking pictures of food?

Do you wish you had fewer Facebook friends, or more? Have you ever started writing a negative Facebook post then changed your mind? Was it all the pictures of puppies and babies and people taking trips that stopped you? Do you know what a “meme” is? What’s the last YouTube video that made you laugh? Would you send it to me?

Do you wish you’d read the Terms of Service after all?


How many digital devices are within five feet of you right now? Is your phone one of them? Are you reading this on your phone? Do you want to check another app for a second, then come back?

What’s new in your world? Everything OK? Should we continue?


Where did you find this article? On your doorstep? The Seattle Times home page? Do you have to hit the back browser button and check? Could you have come up with a better headline than we did? Will you share this column with someone? Who? Is it rude for me to ask? Is it bad that like any online writer I want you to share it, because that’s one way people count our value these days, and because seeing the Facebook “Recommend” count rise on the right side of this column fills me with a sense of validation I only pretend I don’t need?

Do you know what “TMI” stands for?

How often do you Google yourself? If I had unlimited access to everything on your phone for two hours, and vice-versa, how well do you think we’d know each other?

What do you make of this growing tension between living life and documenting it? If I told you it took me five days to watch all 13 hourlong episodes of the new season of “House of Cards,” would you worry about me, or say it only took you three?

Should our phones be called phones if calling is the thing we do the least on them? Do you use your phone as your alarm clock? Is your alarm sound the same as your ringtone? Would you believe that just as I wrote this, a woman sitting across from me jumped when her phone rang from her purse — at the library, of all places — and that this is why I always keep my phone on silent, even if it means I miss a call or two? Do you know what I mean by “ghost vibration”?

How long do you let a Web page load before you give up and do something else? Does that small tech failure put you in an even slightly worse mood?

You know that scene in “Office Space” where the guys beat up a copy machine with a baseball bat in a field? Do you ever think about doing that to one of your devices, or maybe something equally dramatic, like hurling your phone into the ocean? Would that be beyond stupid, considering what you can get for these things on Craigslist?

Is there a teenager in your life, and does she text too much? Do you text too much? Do you ever worry that your energy level mirrors your phone’s battery life? How many charging cables have you left in hotel rooms, airports, or who knows where? If all our electronic devices were to stop working, forever, tomorrow, would we be OK?

Did you read this shaking your head, or nodding it? Have you answered any questions to yourself? Will you email me at or tweet me @moniguzman and tell me the answer to your favorite, or a question I should have asked but didn’t? Is it time to stop reading this and go check your email?


Mónica Guzmán’s column appears in Sunday’s Seattle Times. Got a story about living with technology in the Northwest — or know someone she should meet? Send her an email, follow her on Twitter @moniguzman or send her a message on Facebook.

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