Monday, October 14, 2013

I Can’t Live Without You… or Can I?

            Who’s texting me??? I HAVE to know!!! I am a woman possessed, compulsively reaching into my purse every ten minutes or so to check my phone. In an age where everything consumable is accessible from your fingertips, text messages are my kryptonite. Emails? Nah. Voicemails? Not so much. But text messages? I MUST have them and I must have them NOW! With texting, you know someone is thinking about you seconds after they have the thought. It’s instant gratification of the mind!

            You can only imagine, then, how I felt when I reached into my purse at work and discovered my iPhone 4s was M-I-A! And yes, I did say the iPhone 4s… I’m one of those gals who waits for her phone to die (or in this case go missing) before upgrading to the latest and greatest model. At first, I couldn’t believe it. In all my years of using cell phones, I had never lost one. My coworkers helped me look in every crack and crevice, as they simultaneously bombarded me with questions: “Are you sure you put your phone back in your purse?” “Did you carry it somewhere else and just forget about it?” “Do you think someone is playing a joke on you?”

My coworker Eddie, a technology junkie, is an avid PC devotee and thus, a Mac hater. Despite his disdain for everything Apple, he scoured the Internet on my behalf (via his Samsung Galaxy) and determined we could locate my phone via an application called Find My iPhone. “Does my ‘location services’ have to be turned on to use the application?” I asked. “Yes,” Eddie replied. “Oops,” I responded. “I don’t keep that on, because it drains my battery.” Bummer.

But Eddie the Relentless figured out a way to remotely force my location services to turn on from his phone. Voilà! The hunt for my iPhone was back in business. I watched the compass dial on the “Find my iPhone” app spin around and around… Guess where it landed? At my place of work! Unlike Elvis, it hadn’t “left the building.” Then where the hell was it? By the end of the night, the phone had not materialized and I went home, empty handed. I felt so isolated. Not because I couldn’t play Candy Crush, (which I don’t play by the way). It was like someone had unplugged me and I was completely disconnected from the world.  

All this angst made me wonder about the days when I didn’t even HAVE a cell phone. Wasn’t I fine back then? And wasn’t there a time when I used to write actual letters instead of sending an email? Friends used to tell me how much they loved my letters. “You sound just like the way you talk!” was a frequent comment. I used to write someone a long letter and by the time it was received, the uber-important fight I had described in minute detail, had long since blown over. Isn’t there something charming about that? And how about mailing someone a birthday/anniversary/get well card? Well, those were replaced by e-cards a while back, and these days I simply give the person a shout-out on their Facebook wall. Sigh. I write so infrequently with an actual pen that I no longer remember cursive. Do you?

When I started writing this blog entry, it was simply going to be a humorous anecdote that played out like an episode of “Monk.” I could call it “Mr. Monk and the Cell Phone Caper,” in which Adrian Monk solves the mystery of my absentee phone with his famous line: “Here’s what happened…” But somehow, the words weren’t coming. I realized I was struggling because my story wasn’t just about losing a cell phone. After all, I could replace it practically for free by extending my cell phone contract! No, what was bothering me was how much I had come to rely on this device and what that dependence said about me.

Cell phones have become like our IVs… our lifeline to the world. Or are they? During the 24 hours I was phoneless, I still met up with an old friend who happened to be in the city for the day. We had no prearranged plans; I didn’t even know he was coming to town. Despite that, he managed to track me down at my job, without my ever receiving a text message, an email or a voicemail from him. It made me realize that when someone really wants to contact you, they will find a way to do so. So I ask you—do we really need cell phones as much as we think? Or perhaps the real question is… do I?

Are you wondering what happened to my iPhone 4s? Eddie the Relentless continued to track the phone when he got home and I got an email from him at 3:00 a.m., telling me the phone was still at work and that he was going to bed. As my mom would say, “What a mench!” Several weeks later, the exact whereabouts of the phone is still a mystery, but I have since learned that I did not, in fact, lose it. I subsequently replaced my old model with the newer (though not the newest) iPhone 5. And while it’s nice to have a phone again, I somehow feel different. Don’t get me wrong—I still love my text messages! I just don’t feel the sense of urgency about them. I’ve discovered the people who want to reach out to me, will… one way or another. Perhaps the next step is to change the way I reach out to people. It might be time to break out my old stationary. Let’s just hope my handwriting is still legible...

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