I’ve always been one of those people who quickly becomes annoyed when I’m with a group of people, I look around and everyone is on their cell phone. I find myself slightly perturbed when I get together with a friend for brunch and they place their phone on the table to be sure they won’t miss a text or an alert. And there are people out there who still forget to turn off their cell phone ringers at performances, meetings and even church. Ok, we get it, you’re important.
These things bother me for several reasons. Most importantly, when I’m with my bestie, I want to socialize with them especially if it’s one that I don’t see often. I want to tell them things and have them answer me – I think it’s called conversation. And I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’d like to make eye contact too. I would like to know that our relationship and our interaction is just as important to them as it is to me. (Also, I don’t receive nearly as many text messages as the rest of the world. So while my friends are aggressively answering their text messages over brunch, I usually find myself in the deep dark hole of the ‘Explore’ section of Instagram trying to look like I’m doing the same. Yes, I’m aware of how pathetic this sounds, so don’t put me in that position, m’kay?) Though I’ve never uttered the words, I sometimes want to channel my inner baby boomer and condescendingly ask, “What did we ever do without cell phones?”
With this being
ranted said, I was quite surprised at how uneasy I felt when I recently found myself without my cell phone. Actually twice. In the matter of a week. As a person who is self-admittedly annoyed at others dependency on their phone, I realized just how dependent I was on mine, how lost I felt without it and how it’s become somewhat of a security blanket, particularly as a young, single gal in the city. Let me explain.
Back in December, I decided to take myself on a date to the Holiday POPS at Symphony Hall. I must’ve gone a little overboard with the texting as I grabbed dinner beforehand (hey, what else does one do when sitting alone at a bar?) because my phone died as I was waiting for a kind stranger to take my picture in front of the holiday display. Grrrr, annoying.
Without my phone, I was unable to have photographic proof that I actually attended the POPS – I mean, did I really see the performance if it wasn’t documented on Instagram? Also, I had gotten into the venue by scanning the electronic ticket on my phone, but now at 0% I had no idea where I was sitting. So there I was, waiting in line at the box office to get an actual <gasp> PRINTED ticket!
Without my phone, the walk home also had me uneasy. I needed to be sure I didn’t get A) abducted – because the authorities wouldn’t be able to track my whereabouts from my phone with it being off, B) robbed – because I wouldn’t be able to immediately dial 911 to give the full description of the thief. In addition, I deferred going for a nightcap because I was unable to summon an Uber in the sub-zero temperature. And finally, I had no idea what I would’ve done at the bar by myself without my phone. Actually converse with someone? Ya right.
Later that week, I found myself without my phone again. I got all the way to work and realized I had left my it at home charging in a spot in my apartment that I don’t normally charge it (thank you, Christmas light extension cords). I felt super uneasy without it. How was I going to call for help if I got stuck in one of the notoriously unreliable elevators at the hospital? What was I going to miss in the world of Facebook? How was I going to pass the time at 3am if I couldn’t swipe right or left? I was in a full blown panic the more I thought about it. That morning was supposed to be the coldest of the season. What if my car didn’t start? What if I got into an accident on the 1.5-mile drive home and couldn’t document the damage with photographs? I’m embarrassed to say that once my patients were settled, I immediately drove home to get it.
None of these scenarios in which I was without my phone were serious or life threatening. Nothing bad happened to me because I didn’t document my POPS experience in perfectly filtered photographs. I could’ve jumped in a cab if I really wanted to grab a night cap. And I certainly could’ve survived a 12-hour shift without it – surely that’s why they have those ’emergency’ buttons in the elevators, right? What was I so worried about? I was starting to feel like a complete hypocrite. What had happened to me, my morals, my beliefs in social interaction?!
What had happened was I unknowingly became accustomed to the convenience/awesomeness of today’s technology and trusted some of the most important things in my life to a device. My photos, phone numbers (that I surely don’t know by heart), appointments, banking, apps that I use for transportation, exercise and socialization were all on that little iPhone 6. In addition, I constantly use my phone to check the weather…how else am I supposed to plan my outfits? And yes of course, there are times I utilize my phone to avoid social awkwardness or sometimes, social interaction (i.e. being on my phone at the bar clearly screams “leave me alone” right?).
In order to avoid this situation again, I’ve taken to using my brother’s little mantra before I leave the house: ‘Keys. Phone. Wallet.’ And I don’t leave until I’m sure I definitely have the second one (as well as my charger). Do I find it ridiculous that I rely this heavily on a device that weights 4.5 ounces? Yes. Do I care that much? No. Because everyone else does, too. In the words of the baby boomers, “It’s just the world we live in today, kids”.
No, but seriously, if we are hanging out, put your damn phone down and give me your undivided attention.