Short of the Day: ‘Man in the Phone’ Warns as it Entertains

A technological cautionary tale.
By  · Published on August 15th, 2017

A technological cautionary tale.

Technology is everyone’s favorite new addiction. Go into any home, any public place, any city street, and you’ll be confronted with dozens to hundreds to thousands of people inhabiting the same space but individual worlds, all tuned in to their smart phones or tablets, interacting and engaging with everything except each other. If you don’t think it’s a problem, you’re wrong. Aside from all the social, emotional, and cognitive ramifications of staring at a screen and devouring ephemera all day, the number of people struck by buses in America alone – just buses, just in America – has increased 11% over the last half-decade, entirely owed to people passing through crosswalks watching not the road, but their phones. Many states have had to enact driving-while-distracted laws because of the number of accidents and fatalities now caused by drivers messing with their phones, and “just say no” refers more to teenagers texting behind the wheel than it does them toking up.

We are all slaves to technology, there’s no way around it. To live a life in this age without dependence on technology is practically impossible, but that doesn’t mean we have to be constantly irresponsible in our use of it.

Serving as a cautionary fable about just this subject is Man in the Phone, a short film from director Mackenzie Shepherd about a man so addicted to his iPhone that he literally becomes trapped inside it. Part dystopic sci-fi, part slapstick comedy, part reflective drama, Man in the Phone is in the same vein as the films of Spike Jonze, or even Terry Gilliam, in the way it lampoons and empathizes with our technological dependence. It’s good fun and a good lesson.

Man in the Phone is presented by DUST, “a multi-platform destination for science fiction creators, innovators, and fans.” They’ve curated over 100 shorts to date, which you can find at

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