I sent this text to my children Sunday; “Radio silence for the next few hours”. They knew we were headed to The Masters golf tournament which doesn’t allow you to carry a cell phone in. For the next eight hours my wife and I would be discounted from the outside world.
As hard as I try not to be and as much as I rail against our dependence on them we are a society that has come to rely on our cell phones. For me my reliance is in the simple things. What time is it? I don’t wear a watch and haven’t worn one for ten years. Where did I park my car in a sea of 10,000 other cars? I had to find a scrap of paper to write the lot and row down and stick it in my wallet. What if I needed to call one of my kids from the pay phone? I don’t know their phone numbers. No clue what their numbers are. I remember my home phone from fifty years ago, even my grandmothers phone number who has been dead for twenty-five years, but not wife’s or my children.
One of our kids wanted my wife to buy her a pullover if The Masters had any “cute” ones. My wife texted her back that she would send her a picture of what they were selling. My daughter responded, “No you won’t, you can’t”. There shouldn’t be any doubt in our minds that we have become a smart phone addicted society.
I take a lot pride in the fact that I do activities that are not smart phone dependent. When I ride my bicycle for two or three hours I am not checking my phone, but it is with me. When I am hiking in the Pisgah National Forest for three or four hours I don’t check my phone. It wouldn’t matter if I did because there isn’t any cell service, but I have it with me.
There is a certain sense of security of having that little rectangle in my pocket or backpack. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because I believe it is my conduit to the world. It has become an extension of me, an appendage, a brain cell, a place I can store the mundane aspects of my life. Need to find a place to eat? Let the phone figure it out. Can’t get home? My phone will give me a route. Call my parents? Got the number stored in my phone.
I was having a conversation with an older gentleman at the golf tournament yesterday after he asked me if I knew what time it was, I didn’t but my wife still wears a watch. He was bemoaning the fact of how dependent he had become on his phone, a gadget his grand-kids forced him into buying, in such a short period of time. He likened it to a drug. He quit wearing a watch, and he could no longer remember anybody’s phone numbers. He had a Facebook account and was trying to figure out Snapchat. But then he smiled, he had grandchildren scattered all over the country and even though he couldn’t see them as much as he would like he could text and Facetime with them. He laughed, “They are still young enough to be interested in getting a text from their old grandpa. That will all change when they get to be teens and think it is creepy I am on Instagram.” he said with a smile.
I spent eight hours without the appendage known as my smart phone in my pocket Sunday. I reached for it several times and thought I felt it vibrating in my back pocket more than once. What I discovered is that I was simply experiencing Phantom Cell Phone sensation. When we got back to car, after I pulled the scrap piece of paper out of my wallet to help me remember where we had parked, my wife and I both immediately checked our phones. Nothing. No missed phones calls, texts or Snapchats, nothing. The world had continued to rotate on its axis without us for eight hours. I am guessing it will continue to do so for many more without any of us and our phones.
Other cell phone post: There is no zen in our cell phones