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.

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