Keith David is no stranger to Twitter. He may not tweet as much as, say, Elon Musk, but he’s active on social media, regularly interacting with fans, cracking jokes, and promoting his next project. Now, in his latest movie, David explores a very different way of life: living off the grid.
Unplugging stars Eva Longoria and Matt Walsh (Mike from Veep) as a married couple who decide to spend a weekend away from their smartphones in a rental cabin. They soon meet Gil (David), who owns the local watering hole and helps guide them through a series of near-apocalyptic misunderstanding.
Plenty of hijinks ensue — from drunken karaoke to a kidnapped chicken — but at its core, Unplugging is a movie about the addictive nature of social media. David tells Inverse it’s a message he takes to heart.
“We are too addicted, and addicted is exactly the right word,” he says. “I've had those moments myself when I'm in the middle of something and the phone rings, and whatever it is, it can wait, but there's that part of your attention that goes, Oh, I should answer.”
After considering the question for a few moments, he offers up some ancestral advice:
“It reminds me of something my grandmother would say when she was alive: Listen, if somebody dies in the middle of the night, don't call me! And my point is, even if somebody passes away in the middle of the night, it can wait. Depending on who it is, I guess I can run over there and keep them company. But with few exceptions, try to have a little bit of respectful distance and say, In the morning will be a good time, we can all deal with this together. And most of the time, somebody's calling you with, I found the new restaurant or nothing that can't wait until tomorrow.”
Of course, most of us aren’t being distracted by literal phone calls these days. Instead, we’re bombarded with texts, tweets, and an endless feed of distractions. On that topic, David also has some advice, specifically for Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur who recently closed a deal to buy Twitter.
“It could be a good thing if he stays objective about it,” David says of Musk’s big purchase, “and certainly he can afford to be objective, and he can also afford to not be objective. So that's the danger. It really is about finding the balance, isn't it?”
Time will tell, but in the meantime, maybe Musk should take some advice from David’s new movie and try unplugging for a few days himself. He might see things a bit more clearly after a bit of time spent off the grid.
Unplugging is in theaters now and VOD on April 29.