Monday, February 16, 2009

A blessing and a curse

The other day, I left my house in a hurry to get to work. I had my iPod (check), my lunch (check), my keys (check check). When I got to work, I realized I had forgotten one thing: MY PHONE. "Come on, Annie...it's not that big of a deal. Eight hours without your phone? Sheesh...you're ridiculous." I can hear you thinking that. And stop thinking that! I feel naked without my phone, even if it is on silent in my purse while I'm at work. It is a unique portal to the outside world that I need to have by my side. What I didn't realize is how much I use this little device. I would go to reach into my purse to check if anyone had texted me, and every time, it was a new feeling of desperation and anxiety about my poor phone, sitting on my pillow at home, no one to check to see if there were texts or missed calls.

When I had finally reunited with my long-lost (so it seemed!) lov--I mean, cell phone--I got to thinking about how much I depend on my little LG Chocolate. I hear horror stories about people who drop their phones in toilets and lose all of their info or people who go to the cell phone store to have a little part tweaked and their entire directory of contacts is down the drain because of some stupid technician. And so, here are some of my thoughts about cell phones.

Like I said before, without my cell phone, I feel naked. What if something happens? I mean, what if I need to call Rachel from the store to see if we have milk or if I need to buy some?!?! That's pretty important information, and should I ever need to know that, I would need to know it right then to save myself from the disaster of having too much milk in the fridge. Ok, that's exaggerating, but I really like to know that I have those options. I have a friend that makes fun of my connected-at-the-hip-ness with my phone. It's probably psychological, but it's kind of comforting to know that I could probably find a way out of whatever situation I find myself in with a few pushes of some buttons on my phone. (No, I am not a super hero who often finds herself in these clinches...but I'd like to be...wouldn't that be awesome?!)

When I was traveling internationally last year, I went 9 days without my phone. At first, I would jump at any vibration, hopeful that it was someone sending me a text or giving me a ring. After a day or so, though, it was kind of nice to be out of touch. I still had the Internet, so I could keep contact with people through email and Facebook. The phone vacation was definitely nice, but I was ever so happy to turn it back on when I landed at JFK. Give me a little credit: my first phone calls were to my family to find out about my new niece that had been born while I was gone. It really is nice to have a way to stay in touch!

I love texting. I don't know what it is about it, but it just works for me. There are a few reasons. One is that I think I sound like an idiot on the phone...either that or really fake. Yes, I have a 'fake phone voice' that the callers to work get to hear. And it's so saccharine it's embarrassing. So let's face it, if I can take my time and think out what I want to say in 160 characters or less, I'm taking that route. I've always been way more confident in my writing than my speaking. Another reason I think texting has such an allure is the fact that it doesn't inconvenience anyone. I'm not afraid I'm going to catch someone in the shower or in the middle of a meeting. When they get a minute to check their phone, they'll check it. And sometimes, you see something funny, and you don't necessarily need a response out of someone, so you text them about it. They are at liberty to respond if they'd like, but it's not as though you're stuck in an awkward conversation for the next three minutes. Also, if you're inviting a bunch of people to something, mass text. Love it. Gets your point out across quickly and conveniently, and heaven knows I'm all about that. Maybe I'm the only one with these feelings about texting...even still, I find them quite valid (but I'm a bit biased). I do love getting texts as well. It's like a little jolt of anticipation whenever I hear my phone buzz. And I really do wonder if it's a 'hot guy for me.' At least that's what Rachel and I yell to each other when we hear the other's phone go off with an alert.

Just the other night at a friend's birthday dinner, we got discussing how texting has become such a huge part of society. I took a quick survey, and at least five out of the eight of us were in the middle of a text conversation with someone who wasn't with us. And yet we were basically all there, participating and enjoying our time together. Not to say that you should be texting while you're out with people--especially (heaven forbid!) while you're on a date--but I find it convenient to be able to multi-task.

And speaking of multi-tasking... Now, I haven't tried this yet, but I understand there's some sort of app on Facebook that you can use to update your status or comment on people's pictures...or do basically anything you could do on Facebook. Whoa. I know I'm a Facebook junkie, so any sort of connection to my phone would make my obsession with both pieces of technology (i.e., my cell and Facebook) even worse...I'm talking, lost in a vortex of comments and updates. I hear it's amazing, though.

Ok, not everything about cell phones is peachy wonderful. As much as I'd like to say that I don't, I do talk on my phone in the car. And on the rare occasion, I will text. It's a habit I'm trying to get out of, and I've been doing pretty well lately. I got to thinking about it...whomever has texted me can wait until I get to my destination to hear from me. Or I'll call them real quick with an answer and then tell them I'm driving and get off the phone. I've heard all sorts of crazy stories about people who have been killed in car wrecks and come to find out, one of the drivers was being an idiot and texting (yep, just called myself an idiot) while they try to maneuver around on the freeway. And I know everyone says they are the exception to the bad-driving-while-on-the-phone rule, but you aren't. I'm not. I'm going to try to be better about that and keep my driving while on the phone to a minimum. It is my blog pledge to you and to myself and to all the drivers who encounter me on the road.

Another place cell phones should be banned: the bathroom. Ugh...I was at a play the other day, and I went to use the bathroom. I could hear a lady a couple stalls down, talking quite loudly...and I figured maybe she was talking to a friend in the next stall. After a little more listening and not hearing two sides of this conversation, I could only assume that she was chatting it up on her phone--in the bathroom! WHILE SHE WAS USING IT!! I was kind of embarrassed for myself because I was also using the facilities, but then I thought, "Wait! I'm not the one who should feel shame here!" I just felt sorry for the person at the other end of that line. Yes, honey, that was a toilet flushing. GROSS.

One thing that constantly smashes my pride when it comes to cell phones is how reliant I've become on my cell phone for storing people's phone numbers. I used to be able to memorize numbers like a slightly slower version of Rain Man, but recently I can't even remember my dad's cell phone number. Why should I, you know? It's in my phone, speed dial #6. Which is why I pray daily that my phone never decides to randomly go on the fritz and leave me without my connection to those I love (and some I don't...). Plus, when you get a new phone, there's the pesky learning curve. Getting used to a new phone is difficult for the first little while!

I use my phone for a lot of things that aren't related to connecting to others. It's my alarm in the morning. It's how I calculate a tip when I'm feeling too lazy to do simple math. It's where I jot down something I want to remember, like a book I'd like to look up at the library or a movie star I need to go Google to find a picture. I think my phone even has an option to hook in headphones and listen to music...if I had a memory card with music files on it. I must say, I love my phone for taking pictures. It's lovely to whip out at those times when you say to yourself, "Awh, man...it would have been nice to have some documentation of this historic/hilarious/embarrassing/awe-inspiring moment!" Click. Done. My current phone actually takes pretty high quality pictures, too. Not quite as good as an iPhone, but that's a topic for another paragraph...

...this one! I know a few people who have iPhones and love them. I can't justify it to myself. I would spend so much on silly applications and then never use them! Not that I don't enjoy the fact that you can quell boredom by getting into the Tangrams app or that you can create the illusion that you're drinking beer with a phone... It just doesn't fit into my busy (cough cough!), hectic (I hear your snickering!), already packed life. Or I'm just cheap. And I do so love Verizon (and they don't support the iPhone), considering the majority of my friends and family are on that network and we can talk and text for free! So yes...it's that I'm cheap.

I enjoy the predictability of my cell phone bill being only pennies different from month to month. I never use all my minutes (or even come close...thanks all you Verizon users!), and I have an awesome text plan. I can expect a consistent bill to come up each 19th day of the month. A few years ago, we got my boss a new Palm Treo 600. It was cutting-edge technology that provided access to the Internet with just the push of a button on a tiny screen. "Ooooooh, shiny!" Oh yes, it was fabulous...until we got the first month's bill. I gulped and my stomach sank to the floor when I saw the total: over $1700. Wait just a minute!?!? Hadn't we gotten a data package? Apparently it didn't cover the 24/7 that my boss' phone was online. No one told us that you had to actually go disconnect the phone from the Internet instead of just turning the phone off. I called and talked to the phone provider. We weren't the only ones who were not so used to the fancy schmancy new Internet phones (and who designed them like that in the first place? ...that's my question!), so they were crediting back the charges and trying to solve the glitch in the phones. Phew!

At one point in my life, it made sense for me to have two cell phones. Ok, it didn't make that much sense, but I did it anyway. One was what I like to call the "Joey phone." Joey was my fiance, and we lived long distance, so we got a phone plan that we could use to talk to each other as much as we wanted and didn't have to wait until after 9pm his time (10pm mine). I didn't want to cancel my remaining year or so on my original plan, though, and I also did not want to change my phone number with everyone else just yet. So in the interim between when I could transfer over my original number and cancel my contract, I carried two phones. Ridiculous. Luckily, that only lasted about three weeks until I sent back a box with all of his crap to him, including the phone. Also fortunate was that I hadn't signed my name to any sort of contract. Good riddance.

So, what did people do before cell phones? I guess we missed a lot more calls we didn't know about, without the "1 missed call" to tell us so. We probably led less obsessed lives, too, when we weren't wondering what calls we'd missed or who wasn't texting us back in a timely fashion. When it all boils down, though, I'd like to keep mine. That vulnerable feeling really isn't my favorite.

2 Comments:

Blogger LindsayKeller said...

It is weird how attached we all are to our phones. It's liberating to "forget" your phone for a day but at the same time it's really disorienting(?) (I wasn't sure if that word was appropriate for the sentence.

February 16, 2009 at 9:03 PM

 
Blogger ramshacklerambler said...

It's not surprising that most people call you instead of me. I'm quite forgetful about my phone. I often leave it in my coat pocket on silent for hours on end. I think that if you weren't so connected to your phone, I would be much more connected to mine. Thanks for taking the brunt of that. :)

February 16, 2009 at 11:00 PM

 

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