I lost my cell phone last month and in that space between figuratively and literally, I also lost my shit over it. I checked EVERYWHERE and when that initial effort failed to solve my problem, I did what anyone would do: I went to social media and complained about it.
December 30th, 2011
What’s on your mind?
Dear Cell Phone. Please come back. We can work things out. You bastard.
My relationship with my cell phone is certainly an “it’s complicated”. The truth is, I actually hate being on the phone. Never really got the hang of it. I’d rather talk to people when they are being people in person or yell to them from Very Great Distances.
There’s also the imposition.
I don’t like the convenience that other people have to contact me whenever they want wherever I am, even if that’s nowhere in particular and I am doing NOTHING there. Whether I’m single-handedly perfecting cold fusion in a bunker somewhere in the mojave desert or sittin’ around in dirty sweatpants at my mom’s marathoning Buffy and no matter what time it is, I just don’t want to be bothered simply because I can be bothered.
There must have been a procedure in place to call on someone when you needed to call them in the Before Time before cell phones but no one, it seems, can remember exactly what that was.
I think it involved pigeons.
Some sub-speicies of dove maybe?
But having a cell phone is pretty much an obligation now, and I’m just not bigger than that. So, yes, I have one.
I say “cell phone”. I don’t have a smart phone and in point of fact this is exactly where I will draw the line until they move it again.
There are good reasons why I refuse to get a smart phone.
Is it fear of the new? Some kind of existential distrust of what we might call “progress”?
What’s that Thing Kurt Vonnegut says? “We are here on Earth to fart around” (1997: 219) and, see, I can’t really do that if you’re going to talk past me through your smart phone or – worst of the worse – if you’re going to fact check the Things I say offhand, just because you can now.
That whole “Welp! Let’s just look it up, shall we?” that kind of started as a lighthearted game amongst friends is, I think, being played with too much predatory zeal to be any fun anymore.
It’s a trial now. It’s an interrogation of small talk.
These are exactly the Things I’m trying to avoid, as futile as that is, for as long as I possibly can. After all, just because the Romans are at the gate doesn’t mean you have to let them in.
With a cell phone, especially a crappy one, especially my crappy one (it’s over 3 years old, the camera is 2 pixels and is broken, and sometimes and especially during peak hours it sounds like I’m talking to you through a wet pillow), the excuses for non-engagement are of the best kind: trite and endless.
The battery ran out; I turned off the sound and the vibrate is broken; I dropped the call; there were no towers nearby; I was slightly underground; there was so much mist out there; SOLAR FLARES.
It all adds up to a marvellous buffer zone – a kind of heaven, really – where I can just fart around unless and until truly needed.
So, yes. I kind of hate having my phone but I hate not having my phone because I’m expected to have it.
Such a modern romance.
As it turns out, I had dropped my cell phone in the garden. It spent a full seven days under dirt, then snow, then dirt and snow, then, like, ice for a while, then melt runoff and, eventually, my own sad realization at what had happened.
January 7th, 2012
What’s on your mind?
Cell phone! You are back!!! But you smell like cigarettes and whores and are as dirty as rotten hell. There is water where there should not be and a “gritty” I have never before experienced against my fingertips. I am impressed and horrified. Or, as the Chinese say, imhorripressifed!
It took over two days before my cell phone was fully charged again and there are still tiny beads of condensation on the screen, here and there. If left unplugged, I can now only have a 15-minute conversation on my cell phone before it shuts down completely. If no one calls me, it stays on all the livelong day, cheerfully letting me know the time any time I want.
Vonnegut, Kurt. (1997). Timequake. Putnam Publishing Group: New York.