Phones Are Bad? Not in This Epic Jaunt Through History, Where They Keep Saving the Day

Would Rome have fallen in a world with LinkedIn?

This is the almost inanely simple tagline that mobile service Three in the U.K. is trying to slide past us. 

Consider the moment it's chosen: In an effort to combat a slew of apps intended to suck you ever deeper in, the most recent iOS is outfitted with features that track and limit screen time. (Hardcores can even grayscale their phones to avoid the dopamine leap that accompanies red notification flags.) And just a couple of weeks ago, Palm released a phone whose objective is to make you spend less time on phones generally. 

So "Phones are good" cuts against the current in a manner most ballsy. Three makes its point in an ad by Wieden + Kennedy London titled "Phone History," which is—to be clear—actually revisionist history, but never mind.

Three | Phone History

It opens blithely with a woman in a public toilet, where she's reading all the latest anti-phone propaganda. A bit of exaggerated news titled "Life was better before phones" kicks off the drama, flinging us through a time warp in hot pursuit of her germy handheld, which makes everything that was sucky in history all better. 

Would the captain of the Titanic have been able to save his crew with the right app? Could Neanderthals have survived the onslaught of genocidal homo sapiens if Deliveroo were around? Is it possible Henry VIII would've been happier with his romantic choices if he could Tinder a political match? 

In amusing visual form, these are just some of the rhetorical questions we're faced with on this jaunt through a pre-smartphone world suddenly populated with phones. 

One of our favorite moments happens as Moses parts the Red Sea. "They're never going to believe this!" one man marvels, to which another interjects, "Yes they will!" He begins to surreptitiously record the event—to Moses' chagrin. (Given his character, it's possible Moses already knew about Deepfakes, foreseeing the time no would would really believe anything anymore, not even their own eyes.)

"U See? Phones are good," a robotic voice reiterates, "and they're even better on the best network for data." That detached, dystopian narrative is well chosen in a work that facetiously ponders whether Rome could've been saved from the insanity of Nero if only LinkedIn were around. 

But as with our Sisyphus-stone battle with fake news, maybe the point isn't which narrative is true or false. The point is probably something more along the lines of, this is the world now and we're stuck with it, in the toilets as in elsewhere. 

If you really want to win, choose the operator with the better data plan. We all die anyway, right? In the meantime, you can order takeout on the loo.

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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