May 11, 2024 Flash Fiction


Connection Artwork by Huina Zheng
On the rare occasion when I dine with friends, I find that not only I, but also Lan, Lilin, and Yan, are all caught in the glow of screens, ensuring the WiFi is strong and WeChat is running smoothly, with its messages competing for our attention like chicks clamoring for their mother’s attention, leading us to ignore the pain in our fingertips and the dryness of our eyes; I feel my soul becoming as dusty as books left untouched on a shelf, while my thoughts drift to the classroom parakeet, which, despite my daily careful selection of fresh apples, pears, carrots, celery, and a variety of nuts and grains, along with providing it with parrot toys and perches in its cage to alleviate its loneliness, still constantly squawked “Look at the blackboard”—a phrase it learned from our teachers, though it really meant for us to come and look at it—I’m unaware that my friends and I, with our incessant scrolling, are letting precious moments slip through our fingers, making us close in distance but far apart in spirit; as I gaze at the iPhone, I wonder if our individual obsessions with virtual network communications could bypass the need for genuine interaction and eye contact, all while attempting to implement an information filtering algorithm to save what’s left of our spirit and emotions, my eyes darting between the screen, the delicious dishes on the dining table, and the sight of my friends bowing their heads to their phones, counting the seconds until we become lonelier in the digital world than in the physical one.