Allison K. Gibson has an article on The Millions about the problems with technology in modern fiction, inspired by a sentence in a New York Times article: “Can the hoary trope of mistaken identity still play in the age of Google images?”
Despite all the trouble technology might cause, when it’s absent from contemporary novels, a big white elephant appears on the page and starts ambling around. Perhaps searching for an unprotected Wi-Fi network? Usually these are good books, full of beautiful language and arresting characters that teach me what it means to be human. But, as was the case with Vendela Vida’s Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, the obvious absence of things like search engines and smart phones makes me pause and think, “Couldn’t she have at least Googled her father’s name before she set off to the Arctic in search of him?”
This comes up often when writing plays. It’s harder than you’d think to figure out a way to get two characters in a room to hash things out, when in real life they’d probably handle most of it through text messages and email and Facebook. And don’t get me started on how many mystery plays have to have a scene where someone pulls out a cell phone and either discovers they forgot to charge it or they just happen to be in a spot with really, really bad reception. (More believable if it’s an iPhone from AT&T.)
Anyway, this article goes on to reference a number of contemporary novels that handle the issue quite well, which could be an inspiration to playwrights out there. It was to me.