Unplugged

It’s an all too common sight all over the city; on the streets, the trains, the bus. People staring into a little electronic device. The Smartphone.

I’ve spent the last six days un-tethered from my Blackberry. It wasn’t by choice. On Sunday, my home cellphone did what I call the ‘loop garoo’—it started to flip on itself in an application lockup. I was dead in the water.

Now, to be honest, I wasn’t totally without a communication device. I also have a Blackberry from my office. But my life is in my home cellphone. Some of my friends and family don’t even have my work phone number. They always call or text my home cell phone. My contacts, calendar, and tasks are there. I even had my landline phone forwarded to my home cellphone at one time. (Can you say, no more triple play?)

Sprint graciously sent out a replacement phone on Monday for overnight delivery. But they could only send the phone to my home address, and I knew that I couldn’t take off from work to wait for the delivery. The best that I could do was to pick it up from the UPS depot at the end of the week.

At first, I thought for sure that I would start to suffer withdrawal symptoms. No instant access to e-mail. No Facebook and Twitter updates. No podcasts. No newsfeeds. No Bubble Boom. I knew that I would really miss the podcasts. On my commute to work, I listen to programs like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, The People’s Pharmacy, Stuff Mom Never Told You, Living on Earth, and Smiley and West. I really like podcasts and audiobooks. I grew up listening to radio, and still listen to AM and FM radio. The podcasts give me a chance to listen to the radio programs I normally don’t get to listen to live on broadcast. And audiobooks give me a chance to read after a long workday spent in front of the computer. I knew that I would miss my podcasts the most.

I also wondered if missing the newsfeeds would give me a sense of FOMO. Don’t know what that is? It’s Fear Of Missing Out. Some psychologists think that’s the reason why some people are glued to their smart phones. They’re afraid if they’re not constantly checking their social networks, they will miss out on something. I thought that I would feel that way about the newsfeeds, since I am something of a newshound. Maybe a frustrated journalist. That’s why I joined Facebook in the first place. To save my favorite news articles from the New York Times after the newspaper shut down their article saving feature. I discovered that Facebook was a great way to save any article that caught my eye.

Every now and then, I get a few ‘likes’ on an article that I post to Facebook. (My uncle ‘likes’ just about every article, but that’s okay too, because it’s his way of saying that he’s fine.) Or a controversial piece may elicit a few comments. I never thought much about it, until I got a comment from one of my junior high school classmates. I’d posted a birthday greeting on her page, and when she wrote to thank me she said, “I love those articles, keep them coming.” Who knew?

In the end, I didn’t suffer from withdrawal or FOMO. When I got my replacement phone on Friday, I felt more as if I was coming back from vacation. A nice break, but good to be back in the swing.


 

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