Technology Overload and the Time I Learned the Life Story of a Woman at Firestone

I love my iPhone. I really do. It gives me directions, takes good pictures, and lets me see my friends’ faces when I talk to them. If there’s a question I need answered, it answers it. But there are some times I wish I could transport back to a time before everyone over the age of six had a cellphone. I feel this way for a few reasons:

1.) You can never really unplug. I’m going on vacation next week, and I can’t wait. But I know that even though I’ll technically be “on vacation”, I’ll still have complete and total access to the world around me. Sure, I could not check my phone or e-mail but…who really does that in this day and age? And if something really urgent happens at work, it’s almost expected that you’ll reply. Because everyone else also has a smartphone and therefore realizes that you’re never totally “off the grid.”

2.) You can never have a real, uninterrupted conversation: I can’t remember the last time I went to lunch or dinner with someone and cell phones stayed in pockets or purses for the entire time. Have you ever noticed that when someone else quickly checks their cell phone it makes you want to check yours? It always happens at least once. Some people even leave their phone right on the table. Again, you can never really escape.

3.) When you forget it, you feel naked: The other day I sat in traffic for half an hour because I turned around, went home, and got my cell phone which I had stupidly left sitting on the counter. Did I really need it? Probably not. I have a phone at work. I have a laptop. There are plenty of ways for someone to get in touch with me. But I literally was starting to twitch and itch without it. I had to go home. I felt so ashamed, but I did it.

4.) The woman in the waiting room at Firestone: This brings me to the main reason I hate cell phones. Her name is Jada and I encountered her in the waiting room at Firestone as I sat waiting to get my oil changed. As soon as I sat down, I knew Jada would be a problem. She was scrolling through her phone and began making a call. She talked to the person on the other end, as she sat in the silent waiting room, for twenty minutes about a variety of topics. She didn’t care that the other people in the waiting room were looking annoyed by her loud dialogue. She spoke with reckless abandon. Topics she covered included, but were not limited to: Why she hates Chase bank, why she hates the Bronx, her nephew’s Kindergarten graduation that was so big it was like a high school graduation, someone named Isaiah, her new sprinkler, her new diet, the new rims on her car, and why her phone is whack. I purposely left my book, magazine, and other gadgets at home because I was looking forward to a few minutes (turned into an hour) of peace while I waited for my car. Jada saw to it that that would not happen as she interrupted every thought I had with way too much information about her life. As soon as her loud and detailed conversation was over, I felt relief. It was over. Now I could think and be alone with my thoughts. Until her phone rang. She answered it, of course. Then, I kid you not, I got to hear her describe all the symptoms of her hernia to someone from her doctor’s office. She described her vomiting, the type of pain she was having, all of it. I felt embarrassed for her. Jada, please. Have some dignity. Wait to make those kinds of phone calls.

The bottom line is this: cell phones are great. They make life so much easier and they make us well-informed. They make it easier to connect with people. But sometimes you just want to unplug, or sit at Starbucks and talk to your friend and not think, “Wait did I feel my phone vibrate or was that just random stuff in my purse moving around creating the illusion of a vibration?” Sometimes I want to go back to the days when my mother didn’t have “Party Rock Anthem” as her ringtone. Sometimes I want to go wait for my car at Firestone without overhearing conversations about hernias, the Bronx, new diets, Kindergarten graduations, and Isaiah. Although, I do kind of hate Chase bank right now too, so I can relate on that front.

Given the choice, do you think you’d go back to a pre-smartphone society?

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