“What? You’ve never owned a cell phone? Are you stark-raving mad?”
I can easily see how one might think that—what with my living in this busy world of constant communication—but no, I don’t own one, and honestly, don’t care to. The last bit of technology that had me wrapped around its little finger was a pager back in the late 80’s, and no, I wasn’t a drug dealer, but spent ten days a month on-call for work.
It was a pain in the butt.
Of course, it came in handy when I got beeped during a blind date that had veered horribly off-track.
Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep!
“Excuse me, but I need to call in,” I stated with faux pompousness, as if I were a brain surgeon or rocket scientist. It was, after all, a blind date that I had no intentions of contacting again.
I removed myself to use the pay phone—back in the days when pay phones were readily available—and found out that I had to cover the next afternoon’s underwater basket-weaving shift, then returned to the table, frantic about the ten-car-pile-up that needed my attention—STAT.
“An accident happened on the interstate and they need me in the O.R. at Mercy General to oversee a brain transplant. Those medulla oblongatas don’t stay fresh for long, you know. No, no…go ahead and finish your Blooming Onion. Here’s money for a cab.”
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a crumpled dollar bill, two quarters, and a fuzzy lifesaver.
“Er…the number 7 bus runs by every thirty minutes. Sorry about that…here, have a lifesaver. Gotta go!”
And then I high-tailed it out of there, Doctor Swift to the rescue, and met some friends over a martini to discuss my narrow escape from the hairy mole with the face attached.
The point I’m trying to make is, when in the heck did we ALL become so highfalutin and self-important that we needed to be reached at a moment’s notice…or have anybody else at our disposal like that? And when did we have to check in with everybody and their friend’s friends before we made a move to do…anything? We’ve all gone stupid, unable to solve a problem without asking someone else.
“Honey…there’s some smelly black goo in the baby’s diaper. What do I do?” Husband texts.
“Page Dr. Swift; there must be something terribly wrong. It’s 10:00 now—I’ll be home in five minutes!” Wife texts back. Then she proceeds to alert the media while on a social mania high:
- 10:00:01 a.m. Facebook post: “OMG! Black goo is oozing from baby Precious. I’M SO WORRIED! Off to the house I go!”
- 10:00:12 a.m. Facebook post: “But first, a quick stop at Carl’s Jr. for a double western bacon cheeseburger, curly fries and a hot apple pie. I can’t handle this stress on an empty stomach! Oh, and a Diet Coke.”
- 10:02:35 a.m. Facebook post: “Just got into an argument with the cashier at Carl’s Jr. My order was ready, but she was on her cell phone while it sat under the warmer. Curly fries are now cold and limp.”
- 10:02:38 a.m. Tweet: “@CarlsJr—Fire the girl with the missing tiger-striped acrylic nail! I just found it in my hot apple pie. #Gross”
- 10:02:43 a.m. Response to tweet: “You best be bringing me back my fingernail, beotch. #ICutYou”
- 10:02:50 a.m. Response to tweet response: “I threw it out on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. You can look for it tonight between tricks. #MyHusbandsACop”
- 10:03:02 a.m. Response to tweet response response: “I know. Tell him he left his handcuffs on my bedpost last night while you were sleeping. #HusbandsWhoUseAmbien”
- 10:03:03 a.m. Facebook post: “I THINK MY HUSBAND IS CHEATING ON ME!”
- 10:03:04 a.m. Facebook responses: “Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like…”
- 10:04:17 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m pulling into the drive.”
- 10:04:20 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m opening the car door.”
- 10:04:25 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m at the front door.”
- 10:04:26 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—It’s locked. I’m ringing the bell.”
- 10:04:27 a.m. Ding dong.
- 10:04:30 a.m. Tweet: “@Wife—Use your key, I’ve got my hands full. #Gagging”
- 10:04:33 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—I’m inside now. Where are you?”
- 10:04:34 a.m. Tweet: “@Wife—I’m in the nursery throwing up. Can’t you hear me?”
- 10:04:35 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—No.”
- 10:04:36 a.m. Tweet: “@Wife—BARF!”
- 10:04:37 a.m. Tweet: “@Husband—Now I do.”
- 10:04:50 a.m. Facebook post: “Slapped husband across face, asked for a divorce, and he said he doesn’t even know a girl named Chastity with tiger-striped acrylic nails. I believe him. We’re back together again, forever and ever and ever. YAY! Oh…the baby! Let me check.”
- 10:05:00 a.m. Facebook post: “Awwww….baby Precious went first poo-poo.”
- 10:05:01 a.m. Facebook response: “How did hubby know her name was Chastity?”
- 10:05:02 a.m. Tweet: “@DivorceLawyer—Can we talk? #WomanScorned”
Sure, this is an extreme example…or is it? We tweet and text each other when we’re sitting in the same room. We “self-interrupt” at work. According to The Wall Street Journal, the average office employee (and most likely, writer, too) “takes a break” to scan an email or glance at Twitter every three minutes—and takes more than twenty minutes to get back to the task at hand.
If you see this happening to you, here are three ways to break the hold that technology has, find some peace and quiet again, and possibly rekindle that failing marriage (From Sunset Magazine):
- Designate a specific space in your house as a tech-free zone. Try putting a basket at the door for cell phones. Sit on the patio and read. Soak in the tub for thirty minutes. Unplug anything with an LED indicator light.
- Get rid of your app-filled smartphone altogether. Keep it simple with a flip phone, or even a landline, like I have. Ditch the answering machine and use the caller ID. There once was a day when we didn’t have those things and seemed to function perfectly fine. People actually called back!
- For extreme cases, try a Digital Detox: retreats in remote Northern California locales that allow no devices. Clients forego all gadgets for long weekends of tech-free activities, such as cooking and hiking (remember that stuff?). For more information, visit Digital Detox.
If you find yourself jumping to Facebook every time you hear the notification “bleep,” close your computer and take a walk. Or—and this is a novel idea—get back to writing!
Seriously, it’s not that important that it can’t wait.