So yesterday, I hit a crucial milestone. Indeed, I finally entered the 21st century.
But before we get to that, let's talk for a moment about what I was listening to on the NPR just immediately before. Diane Rehm was interviewing John Freeman about his new book The Tyranny of Email, and Freeman was advocating a movement toward "slow communication" - a return to letter-writing, a resistance against ever faster forms of communicating (email, for one, but also Twitter, blogging, Facebook, texting). As I was listening, I found myself nodding in agreement about a lot of what he was saying. I spend a lot of my life resisting the need to be constantly available for communication. This may sound odd, given the fact that I've got a blog. But the thing that I like about blogging is that it's not really about me being constantly available: I choose when I post, I choose how frequently I check in, I control the amount of engagement that I devote to the blog. In contrast, I struggle with the amount I'm expected to be available via email, via phone, via whatever. As a professor, I've got pretty near constant demands for my attention. And one of the things about being always in touch is that one can't actually pay total attention to any one thing. I don't like that. My thought has always been that I need to manage my availability so that when I'm, say, meeting with a student, I'm really focused on that student. Not on what emails come in or the phone that's ringing. When I'm shopping, I want to be 100% shopping - not answering calls or texts on a cell phone. When I'm on the phone, I want to be 100% in the conversation I'm having - and I want other people to show me the same courtesty. (Though I'll admit that even I become distracted sometimes when on the phone, so it's not like I'm some paragon of single-tasking virtue or something.)
At any rate. The point is, one way in which I've maintained my commitment to this is that I've resisted participating in what I like to think of as "cell phone culture." I do not need to be on the phone when I'm out in the world. I do not need to be texting when I'm walking around on campus (something that fills me with constant rage when others do it, and let's not even start with the people who text and DRIVE). Now, I did finally succumb to having an "emergency" cell phone maybe 6 or 7 years ago - one of those ones you buy at target and you just load with minutes. I only ever had it on or used it when I traveled, for the most part. But recently, I'd found myself thinking that it was time for me to have a "real" cell phone - one that I might be more likely to use and one through which people could, ostensibly, get a hold of me - if only every now and again. I'll admit, the frequent mailings from my home phone company about deals may have had something to do with my interest in pursuing the mobile technology. Even Crazy is susceptible to the advertising. Also, my parents both have cell phones, and have done for years, and they've been bugging me to have a cell phone that I actually use.
But so anyway, after listening to this interview in which the interviewee waxed poetic about how we all needed to turn off our cell phones and our computers and return to writing and sending paper letters, I walked into the Cell Phone Store. It was packed with people, young and old. So it was my turn to be taken care of, and the very nice boy who waited on me I think found me hysterical. First, he couldn't believe that I'd never had a "real" cell phone. I suppose he doesn't encounter many people like me in his line of work. He looked at me with wonder when I asserted that "I refuse to become one of those cell phone people." Indeed, he was confused by this statement, and I had to explain what "Those Cell Phone People" are. And then, somehow, I walked out of that store with a brand new Blackberry Curve and a spring in my step.
Now, let's just note that I had not intended to get such a fancy phone. I was just thinking "real phone that doesn't suck like my silly cheap-ass phone." But it turns out a) that the blackberries were the cheapest phones to buy, b) that somehow even with one of the lowest-minute plans, I get unlimited texts, access to email and the internet, GPS, etc., and c) that my monthly bill for home phone/internet/cell will actually go DOWN from what it was. (No, I don't understand how that's possible, really, but apparently for the 75 bucks after rebate that I spent on the phone, the world is now my oyster in terms of "mobile device" technology, without an increase in my monthly bill.) Ah, the world of bundling. And no contract.
What's insane is that last night I had a dream that my phone was caught in a horrifying rainstorm/flood/fountain of water, and that I had to rescue it. Apparently, I am in love and fearful that my phone will somehow be compromised, even though prior to yesterday, I cared not at all about such things. Have I become "one of those cell phone people"? In less than 24 hours?
I think no. But here's the thing. I don't really think the answer with technology is to turn back the clock. I think the answer is probably figuring out how to negotiate it and not to become ruled by it. We'll see how that goes for me.
But I heart my phone. It is awesome.
(A few people have asked why I didn't get the iPhone. Well, the only reason is because I am committed to keeping a home phone and I didn't want to spend like a gajillion dollars more a month to have it plus a cell. I still prefer to talk on a land line, and as a single lady alone in the world, I believe in a home phone for 911-related purposes, and also in the event of things like power outages. I know I'm old-fashioned. But this is how it is. And since I've got my home phone, my internet, and the cell through one provider, I get to have all of my things without any extra cost. And my company doesn't carry iPhones. So there we are.)
5 years ago