Our lives have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The internet, cell phones, texting…all have made our lives easier in so many ways. I bet our kids don’t even realize that it is possible to exist without the aid of these things. But they’ve made our lives equally more difficult at the same time. I kind of miss the way things were before you had to carry around a phone with you everywhere you went, like a noose around your neck. When you could go somewhere alone or with someone you wanted to spend time with, and you were not interrupted by someone else. I miss the world that moved a little slower, and revolved around whatever it was you were doing at the moment.
Remember when you could go to the grocery store, announce you were leaving, and then just go? You could take all the time you wanted, without numerous phone calls wondering “Where are you?” “How much longer are you going to be?” or “Haven’t you left YET?”
Remember when if we wanted to be checked out of school, we had to first convince our teacher that we were sick enough to go to the office, then we’d have to convince either the school nurse or the vice-principal that we were sick enough to use the phone to call our mom, and then we’d have to convince her that we were sick enough to be picked up. Now, we get a text message saying, “Hey, come get me, I’m sick.”
Remember that as teenagers when we left home, we had to make sure we had a quarter to call home in case anything went wrong? Otherwise, our parents didn’t expect to hear from us until promptly at curfew.
I remember when you could have an actual conversation with someone, face to face. Now, you can’t have a conversation with anyone anywhere without being interrupted by a ringing cell phone. And apparently there’s some unwritten rule that when your phone rings, you have to answer it. I have been in meetings with clients going over their case, and when their cell phone rings, they say, “Oh, excuse me…” and they answer their cell phone. I mean, really? It’s not even about me thinking that my time is more valuable than yours…it’s about respecting the person who’s sitting there, in front of you.
I can understand the urge to answer it, though. I have also gotten repeat calls when I didn’t answer my phone for whatever reason, and then finally when they get me they say, “What’s wrong? Why didn’t you answer your phone?” Um, I was busy? I was in a doctor’s office? I was having a conversation with my boss? I was in the bathroom? I was sleeping? Since when are we obligated to answer our cell phone every time it rings? We are constantly at other people’s beck and call. Literally.
On the rare occasion, when I leave home and forget my cell phone, I spend the first couple of hours reaching for it even after I realize it’s not there. I worry that someone who only knows my cell phone number is trying to get me and can’t. I even feel a little isolated because I can’t check my email whenever I want, or my facebook newsfeed, or the weather forecast. But, after a while, I get this overwhelming sense of peace. I can do whatever I want. Go wherever I want. No one can interrupt me or change my plans at the last second. I’ll find out what’s going on in the rest of the world when I get home, but for now, it’s only about what’s going on in MY world that matters. Try it. It’s like going back in time. And count the people walking or driving by that are texting or talking on their phones, trying to drive, push a buggy, or make an order at a drive through. That’s when you will see what I have, we all look like a bunch of robots.