Does anyone remember those t-shirts that were popular in the 90s that said, "Basketball is life," or "Golf is life" or "climbing is life" and stuff like that? I think they were popular around the time of "NO FEAR" t-shirts, right after the "Co-ed Naked..." went out of style.
Lately it's more like..."My phone is life." Has anyone else noticed the obscene attachment we have to our phones? As someone who resisted getting a cell phone for years after everyone else (back when they were still called cell phones instead of smart phones or just phones), I never thought I'd be someone to get overly attached to one. I didn't have a smart phone for ages, either. I resisted the same way I resisted the Kindle and other ebook devices. Books should be written on paper, damn it! Phones should be for phone calls, damn it! The computer is for internet!
Flash forward to 2013. Just after Christmas, overjoyed to ridiculous proportions with the 4 inches of snow on the ground (for the record, we only got ONE snow last year, about 1 or 2 inches, that melted in a day, so my excitement was probably warranted), I decided I'd go for a run in the snow and take some pictures. I then stuck my sleek white smartphone in my pocket and took off. Almost back to the house, I reached in my pocket, only to find it empty. The horror! How could I live without a phone?
Several searches of the shoulder of the road on foot, and several drive-bys while hanging out the window of my fiance's truck yielded only frustration and a chapped face. My pearly white phone had disappeared into the snow like a...well...snowflake.
"It's okay," I told my fiance, exhausted from the search and having resigned myself to the fact that all my pictures, texts, phone numbers, and calendar entries for the past year had vanished and were not going to be recovered. Once the despair wore off, I was strangely calm. "I don't need a phone," I said. "It might be nice to be without it for a while." He disagreed heartily, and offered to buy me a new phone, which I refused. I was all prepared to be phone-less. After all, I am not one of those zombies who walk around with their noses glued to their phones all day. I hardly use Facebook anymore. I don't call many people, and I could always use someone else's phone, since all my family was home for Christmas. Right?
Before I go on, I should mention that my internet access also comes through my phone. Which means no phone = no internet. Suddenly I had to rely on my mom and sister to even check my email. Driving the 45 minutes to my fiance's house was both frustrating (how do I know he's home? Am I supposed to pick up some food? I'm running late, but I can't shoot him a text letting him know...) and even made me a bit nervous. What if my car broke down? It was cold, and I wouldn't be able to call anyone for help.
All the appointments on my calendar, also on my phone of course, were missed. I had planned to take at least one picture every day for a year...that was shot to hell in the very first week of the year. I missed important emails from my realtor, texts from friends asking what I was doing for NYE, invitations to events, and worst of all...I couldn't remember anyone's number! I didn't even know my own fiance's phone number, let alone my realtor, chiropractor, or boss. I knew exactly three numbers: my mom's, and two of my sisters', one of whom has had her phone since before I had a cell phone, so I knew it from way back in the day when people either had to memorize phone numbers or carry around an address book. So quaint and primitive it seems absurd to us now, when all the information to be found is at our fingertips, 24/7.
I finally got my phone back, 10 days later, a neighbor having found it on the road, mere inches from a stream of melting snow runoff. My conclusion? My smart phone has made me stupid. I no longer remember anything. My smart phone remembers everything for me, which lets my brain coast through the day emptily. I am a phone zombie. All that important stuff is kept in one place, which is seductively convenient. Unfortunately, when we lose that one place...we're lost. How did we ever live without having all that at our fingertips--calendars, texts, directions when we're lost, restaurant and menu lists when we're hungry, alarms to remind us of important events...not to mention phone numbers. And let's face it, most of us use our phones a lot more often for internet, texts, etc, than we do for making phone calls.
It's a little frightening to learn just how much I rely on my phone. Did I really say, just two weeks ago, that I don't need a phone? What I need is a second phone, as a backup. Just in case.