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Will Ferrell bitingly mocks how much devices control us

Commentary: In new ads for the nonprofit Common Sense Media, Ferrell is a phone-addled dad whose family feels he's gone AWOL.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Is this you? Is this at least a little like you? And to think you blame the kids.

Common Sense/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Will Ferrell's family members feel like they've lost him.

I wish I could help, but I really don't know what he's been doing for the last, oh, five to 10 years.

It seems, though, that the situation is serious. 

You see, he's so enamored of his phone that he sits with his family at dinner and completely ignores everyone.

He's only interested in his phone.

In new ads for the nonprofit Common Sense, the Ferrell family dinners are dark affairs, populated by unhappy faces.

In one ad, his family acts as if he's dead. Thanks to his phone, he might as well be. He's been lost to a world of filters that make him look like a cat.

In another ad, he tries to make conversation, but you can see his heart is elsewhere.

The family has created rules for the use of phones at dinner. You just know those rules won't be obeyed by this sad phonaholic. 

There's more.

The most poignant clip, running on Funny or Die, offers the exasperating obliviousness of Ferrell, as his wife tells him she got a tramp stamp and is dating his brother. His son tells him he's selling bongs out of the family minivan. And his teenage daughter reveals she's getting implants.

I hadn't realized things had become so bad for Ferrell. In these ads, he's not even waiting for calls from his agent. 

No, this isn't his real family, and the point is clearly made.

Common Sense is trying to get families to think about how they use gadgets and media and what it might be doing to, well, the family and its individual and collective psyche.

The organization says 42 percent of kids up to 8 years old have their own tablets. Yet one of the suggestions Common Sense has for parents is for them to do as they'd like their kids to do.

Ergo, in these ads, it's the dad who's the problem. 

One of the more overlooked notions is that adults are just as phone-addled as children.

When you look at Ferrell in these ads, he's the child. Now, that's a thesis I'd like to see explored: How do phones infantilize us?

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