I wonder if anyone’s done a study on how cell phones affect our psyches. The other day my wife upgraded her phone. What with this being technology and all, the setting up rendered both her old and new phones useless so we would have to go back to our dealer. Since she has to drive to work and I don’t, I gave her my phone for the day. I use my phone little on most days. Soon, however, I began to feel very isolated. Anyone could reach me by email or landline, but I was without my cell phone for about 10 hours and I grew edgy. What had happened to me? Was I experiencing withdrawal from tech? My smartphone is with me all the time and I’ve come to depend on it being there, even if I don’t use it. Is this healthy?
That night we were back at the dealer’s shop. One of the techies was trying to help us and because of the uber-security state in which we live, he had to text me a passcode to get into my wife’s phone (it’s my name on the joint account). When his text didn’t come through he asked if he could see my device. I handed him my iPhone 4S and he acted as if I’d just passed him a human-alien hybrid baby. As if he’d never seen anything so antiquated. In all seriousness he said, “You have to upgrade. Soon this phone will no longer work.” I have to wonder about the extortion of companies that sell you expensive devices then force you to upgrade when your salary doesn’t keep up with inflation. My old phone does what I need it to do. A new one will be capable of much more for which I won’t use it. I work at home and I don’t give my cell number out to work colleagues.
There’s a psychological study in here. I don’t want people who don’t know me personally calling my cell. That’s what a landline is for. Not only that, but my hours are unconventional. Even people I know forget and send me texts after 8 p.m., waking me from a night’s sleep. You see, the phone is always present, and those of us who don’t conform must pay the price. The thought of being out of contact with others feels like solitary confinement. Tech companies have given us tweeting presidents and bosses that can reach us at any hour. And we happily comply. I appreciate the welcome text or call from family or friend, but when it comes to work and other necessities, I still prefer to receive a letter. Maybe I need to see a shrink.