Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Electronic Leash

You never realize how much a part of your life your cell phone is until you lose it. That’s what happened to me on a recent trip to New York. I lost my phone. And it wasn’t just any old phone either, it was my Blackberry, which had three email accounts coming directly to it. Essentially, once lost, it was identity theft waiting to happen. I’m normally pretty anal about making sure my phone is with me and secure, but in this case, a little monsoon and an inside out umbrella diverted my attention.

The good news is that I found my phone after retracing my steps—the monsoon ostensibly keeping the many people who could have picked the phone up and kept it indoors and away the place where my phone sat filling up with rainwater. Long story short, I had to get a new phone and instead of opting for another crackberry, I chose to go with an iPhone.

At the risk of sounding like someone who should be wearing white shoes, suspenders and a WWII baseball hat, I’m simply amazed at what has become of cell phones. I’ve been here for it all. I remember being in high school when just having a pager was the coolest thing ever (mine was aqua blue see through). I remember gawking at the people with cell phones that were essentially little briefcases with a phone attached. I remember the brick phones, the Nokia craze, the introduction of flip phones. I was amazed when I got my Blackberry that I could actually visit websites and email from my phone.

But somewhere along the way, my phone became an appendage. It’s a part of me now and I’m dependent on it. The day I spent without a phone in NY was one of the longest in recent memory because a phone is so much more than a phone now. It’s a lifeline to the world.

It’s my watch, because there is no reason to wear something on your wrist to tell the time when you have it there on your phone. It’s my picture album, long gone are the days of keeping photos in my wallet. It’s my address book—in fact, when the data from my recently demised phone was found to be unrecoverable, I officially lost touch with anyone for whom I don’t have an email address.

It’s my primary communication tool. I text, I email, I talk—and probably in that order now, actual talking being such a drain on my time and all. It’s my datebook, my calendar, my calculator, my camera. If its not within my reach at all times, I literally start to get jittery.

And my new phone, my iPhone, it doesn’t stop there. It tells me how the stock market is doing, it gives me the news, it tells me what the weather is like outside and anywhere else I may like to know it. It tells me how to get where I’m going and it tells me where I’m at. It connects me to YouTube so I won’t miss a second of the goofy videos that people post. It will download 16 gigabytes of music and video for me to listen to and watch. I cut my teeth on a Commodore 64 computer in grade school!


That’s right. There was a time in my life when making the word “hi” appear on a screen 100 times after only typing it once seemed magical in a computer that weighed more than I did and maxed out at 64 kilobytes. Now my phone, that I carry with me everywhere, in my pocket, holds 16G worth of information. It’s constantly connected to the World Wide Web. If I want it to go faster, I can connect it to my WiFi.

We’ve come a long way from creating sprites on low-resolution screens. Now I can watch, crystal clear, my favorite television show which I happened to miss last night, right on my phone.

And yes, I’ve become so addicted to it, I need it at my side so badly that when my phone was destroyed, I simply couldn’t wait more than 12 whole hours before I HAD to get a new one. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have anyone’s number to put into it. It didn’t matter that I didn’t especially have anyone I needed to call. The idea of being out of touch, unreachable made my skin crawl. What if Britney Spears did something stupid? I might not now about it for HOURS if I waited until I logged on to my laptop—the computer that I bring with me when I go places because the idea of being without a computer is as ridiculous as being without a phone.

What’s left? If they figure out a way for me to have my drivers license and insurance card and my Borders Reward card on my phone; if they make a credit card application that allows me to pay by swiping my phone instead of an actual credit card—well I’d have no need for a wallet at all. If they figure out a way to make it start my car and open the door to my home, I can stop carrying keys too.

I’m already dependant on it. Why not go the whole 9 yards?

I really can’t say when it happened. I just know that it’s a fact of life now. I am a cellaholic. I am addicted. I don’t want to be rehabbed. I’m a happy addict. I need my phone and my phone needs me. We’re happy together. We’re always together. We’re like peas in a pod.

I’ve come a long way since that aqua blue, see through pager I used to wear, clipped to my pants, mostly as a symbol of how cool I was and how I was someone people wanted to be in touch with! The electronic leash was loose then, it was comfortable, it wasn’t threatening in the slightest. Now? Well now it has me, bound tightly in inescapable knots that I wouldn’t try to undo even if I could.
Dependence. Bondage. Enslavement. Necessity. Convenience. Aid. I don’t know. I don’t care. The cave men had their pointy sticks and fire; I have my iPhone. How’s that for evolution?


Julie said...

I think going the whole nine yards might require your phone to smack your ass... you know, with the bondange, enslavement thing.

Ramona said...

I'm lost without my crackberry too. Actually, you are able to unlock your house by using your phone. It's a new lock they came out with. If I owned a home, I would totally get it.

Kira. said...

I used to be this bad, ha ha! Especially with the internet. Now, though, I'm rarely online and my phone is usually only to text like... one person. Or when mum calls. Other than that, if it didn't ring, I'd never know I had it!

Anonymous said...

I never felt the need to have a phone that sits up and does backflips. After reading this, I'm kind of glad. I can go days without hearing a peep from my phone and I'm A-OK with that. But then again, we didn't have a phone in my house until I was in 7th grade so that might have a lot to do with it!

Kim said...

Since my phone has a vibrate alert, I don't understand why I can't have a bullet attachment/cell phone all in one. Then I'D be perfectly set too.

Anonymous said...

I am hopelessly old-fashioned because I insist on keeping a land line -- I just don't trust cell phones since they continue to drop signal, etc. Then too, I simply can't imagine trying to watch a video on such a tiny screen and I can never really see the photos that friends try to show me on their phones. I also don't own a laptop, I have a good old desktop and a good old Nokia flip cellphone.