Smart Phones and Attachment Issues

Is your phone attached to your wrist?” This question, directed at me over the luminous glow of my trusty smart phone, was asked of me by a woman of the baby boomer persuasion about a month ago while I was winding down after work.

Let me preface this by saying I am no way implying that her age was in any way related to her opinion on the subject; she in fact was the one who suggested that it was my age which influenced my views. I know many people her age far more attached to their gadgets of choice than I am, just as I know many my own age more than willing to write off the recent ‘innovations’ of communication and exchange of information.

I clarified that no, my phone was not literally attached to my wrist, though given the severe damage I’ve caused to the screen in my short time with it, maybe it should be.

My insurance won't cover this since it's purely "cosmetic damage". Great.

I explained that I enjoy the continual contact with friends and family my phone provides me with, take pleasure in the ability to listen to my music of choice whenever I feel like it, and am thrilled with the nearly unlimited amount of information at my disposal at any time of the day or night. She continued to ask me a series of questions, which I will answer here.

When was the last time you sent someone a hand-written letter?

I am not denying the sheer joy and excitement that comes with opening your mailbox and, among the hoards of bills with increasing intensity of threats peppered throughout, finding a beautifully hand-written letter from an old friend. I myself like to send out cards around the holidays (usually around the 3rd of 4th of January each year) and postcards to oh-so-subtlety gloat about my travels. And remind the recipient that they are, in fact, more important to me than the occasional two-word text message with a smiley face tacked on the end. I’d argue that the ease of communication in the modern world actually makes this a much more powerful gesture. We are not required to send letters; in fact it is totally unexpected when we do. Modern technology has, in fact, turned letter writing from a functional act into something a lot more valuable. So while I can’t remember the last time I sent a letter, I know that it meant something when I did, and it will next time as well.

Why do you feel the need to listen to music when you’re walking around?”

I understand the appeal of connecting with your environment. iPods and similar portable music devices can build a bubble around you and distract you from the many splendors and interesting happenings around you. However, living in an urban area and using walking as my primary means of transportation, I don’t always want to feel connected to my environment. Having drunk people vomiting two feet away from you at 10 o’clock in the morning, homeless men shouting abuse at you for having the nerve to not have been carrying change on you at that particular minute in time on the off chance you might bump into them, and abnormally hairy men with swastika tattoos on their foreheads loudly requesting oral favors from their car windows can put a damper on your desire to be at one with the world around you. Sometimes I need some decent musical distractions.

The world is a beautiful place.

What would you do if the internet and mobile phone networks just stopped permanently?

What would you do if the world’s water infrastructures failed and we had to revert to using outhouses? Or every TV in the world decided just to never turn on again? (This wouldn’t really bother me too much as long as they waited until after the series finale of Lost.) Or if clocks stopped working and we had to go back to checking in our local sun dial for the time? Or the postal system collapsed and we had to revert to using the Pony Express or better yet, messenger pigeons? (Who’s placing bets on how many kids would decide to call their pigeon Hedwig?)

This would actually be pretty cool.

Obviously the end of the internet and cell phone technology wouldn’t be the single most dramatic thing that could happen to me or the world. I would mope for a few days, shoot off a few expletives now and then whenever I had the urge to check what the weather was like in the capital of Uganda or couldn’t remember the who sang the original version of “99 Luftballons” (20°C and fair, Nena), and eventually buckle down and start looking forward to willfully boring my grandchildren with the memories of the technology of my youth. Maybe I’d even get around to installing a landline. I would survive.

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Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm  Comments (34)  
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34 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. you have a great blog! I just subscribed- loving the little rants 😉 If we ever do have to resort to owls I would name mine Voldemort.

    and I’m sorry about the crack in your trusty smart phone.

    p.s. thanks for the blog visit and comment.

  2. I just got my iPhone cracked screen just like yours fixed for $60. I found a place on craigslist.com. Good Luck!!

  3. Love it. I am the exact same way with my iphone. I thought to myself the other day, ‘What would I do if I lost this thing? This is my lifeline.’ Then I thought about the day I forgot my phone at home. Oh how sad I was…so sad. =( I felt lost and alone. From that day on, I alway check for my phone before I leave the house. I know I don’t need all this at my disposal, but it makes my day go by a lot faster and with a lot more ease.

  4. Hmm.

    Off-topic: The theme is nice, especially the font style fits the theme perfectly.

  5. Really nice Blog!!

  6. Very interesting, thanks for sharing!

  7. I really enjoyed your blog. I related to every point you made. My mum gets frustrated at me that I need my phone on me 24/7 and if it’s not there I feel asthough my right arm has been cut off. It’s ridiculous really but so true.

    I only just got my Iphone about 3 weeks ago, I can’t believe you have a crack in yours, hope you can get it fixed!

  8. I really like what Jerry Seinfeld said once “we need to give people a chance to miss us” I will add so they can experience the space between conversations and tweets and beeps and deepen our reflection of our individual perception of life. But of course to each his or her own.
    D
    http://www.crazyparking.com check it out its a bit of fun

  9. I like your point about value being added to the handwritten letter. I still like to send handwritten letters, and they really are to people who I deem more important than a poorly spelt, short text message. And it’s not like the postal system will collapse, what with all the internet shopping.

    You entertain me. Thank you.

  10. As a “woman of the Baby Boomer persuasion” I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I am, however, admittedly very attached to my own iPhone and its provision of the “nearly unlimited amount of information at my disposal at any time of the day or night”.

    Not that you need to hear it from me, but you write very well. Keep up the good work! If you don’t mind I’m going to subscribe to your site. 🙂

  11. Man, I know EXACTLY how you feel. People used to make comments to me all the time about my phone being attached to my hand. Its nice to have that technology, being able to look up questions you have and everything else, but I definitely could do with out it…actually I currently am. Its not as fun, but I’m not like going crazy over it. =p

    And by the way, thank you for the comment on my last post. =] Its good to know someone has read. =]

  12. I’m so glad I came across your blog today. Your writing and social commentary is awesome. DEFINITELY keep going. I can’t wait to read more and I hope you feel free to stop by my blog at some point too. Thanks again for sharing!

  13. Sorry about your phone damage, apple can be really difficult when it comes to repairs. I totally understand your need to listen to music to “disengage” or “blur out” some of the things that happen when you walk around. I’ve seen way too many hang overs being displayed in the street!

  14. I’m not a big phone user, but if I don’t have it with me and I know I can’t just randomly SMS my husband I go mad. I just need to know it’s there. Even if I don’t use it.

  15. We have become way too dependent on these things. With the iPad even the last bastion of Internet free space in my home fell. You should have baught the Apple care plan.

  16. Well, me personally I have not written a letter (by hand) since about the early 90s… lol… thanks for the post- it got me thinking how addicted or depended on our technology we really are! I grew up quite happily with no mobile phones… people still kept in touch, you still found each other in a crowd and music… it was kept to those special moments when the needle hit the groove on that LP….:o)

  17. I’m with you all the way on the smart phone. My own attachment to my iPhone is legendary! Unlike you, however, I don’t think I’ve EVER sent a postcard purely on the basis I’d normally beat it back by the time I remember to post it….. D’oh!

    http://danjswade.wordpress.com

  18. Nice job. I’m a baby boomer and LOVE my iPhone for exactly the reasons you stated in your blog!

  19. I sent a postcard a few months ago. My cell phone is not smart so I am not missing the ability to reach out and touch the internet wherever and whenever. I do, however, frequently wish I Amazon or IMDB at my disposal so I could remember the name of that guy or that movie or see if a DVD is cheaper online than at a store.

    I miss writing letters and sending them. I had penpals through school when I was a kid during the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. The English girl and I wrote to each other for years but then university kind of got in the way and I haven’t yet found her Facebook page.

  20. Hilarious!Oddly enough I find myself not wanting to be attached to my electronic gadget,but there is a little voice inside of me telling me that I must. And as long we don’t have to go back to the Morse Code I think I’d be okay with no electronics…..for 2 days!

  21. I really want to throw my phone away now. 🙂

  22. My friend has an extremely similar crack in his iPhone. That does suck that they won’t cover it! But on a positive note, I think this was an excellent blog. A lot of the points you make are extremely relevant. I live in NYC and let me tell you, walking around without being able to listen to my iPod would probably turn me into the typical angry New Yorker that is so commonly advertised in the movies. Your HP reference was brilliant…but I’d love to name my messenger pigeon Bentson, it just sounds so funny. In a world full of globalized technology that lets us all connect each other and makes accomplish tasks much easier, why would we ever want to revert back to the old days? I love writing things by hand, but I’d rather take timely and efficient delivery over that…must be because I’ve recently listened to that Nena song and am feeling very German-like 😉

  23. Hmm. Hand-written letter…I’m not sure about this “letter” you speak of. Could you explain it to me?

    I’m completely addicted to my iPhone. I would seriously harm someone who tried to take the “precious” away from me…..

    http://www.cluexfour.wordpress.com

  24. I really enjoy sending traditional letters on nice stationery, because as you mentioned, it is a pleasant surprise.

    So randomly, one or two times a year I go on a letter writing binge and send things out to people. (It’s very fun to write, and equally as fun to receive)

  25. You need:

    1. Treatment for ADD
    2. Education on how the world really works (which you will only get if you put down your toys.)
    3. To get a life.

    • Rude much?

  26. To be honest, this has improve the communication to those of us who on normal circumstances would never sent a written letter. I can only speak for myself and I rarely pick up the phone to speak to a family member, and maybe my only gesture was a holiday card when I remembered. Thanks to social media and technology, they receive greetings on every holiday and updates on each others lives. If all of it dissapeared, I would just go back to my island of discommunication.

    Great story!

    • So, in other words, your family only hears from you if it is easy/convenient/fun for you. You can’t be bothered to pick up the phone or write a letter. How nice for them.

  27. i swear iphones have an uncanny ability to survive the most horrific drunken drops, accidental cracks, & temporary deaths (aka being soggy & sitting in rice for a day) that only count as “cosmetic damage.” seriously.

  28. I am also addicted to my smart phone except that it doesn’t work in Chile yet because I have to unlock it, so I make due with my old cell and an Itouch. My boyfriend makes similar comments to me, but then I see him stealing the Itouch to check the weather and read the news. Hmmm…. I agree with you. I like to use it as a way to always be able to communicate with friends and family who are in another HEMISPHERE. Uhm…Hello! And I definitely use the music to drown out the sounds of the city like men cat-calling me, beggars, ambulances, etc, because otherwise Santiago would stress me out way too much.

  29. Wow I’m literally the only reply to your incredible writing.

  30. Are you selling advertising space on your blog? If not, do you think you will anytime in the near future?

  31. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian, iwspo.net

  32. If only more people would read about this!


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