The new place I store all of my electronics, after the last week’s fiasco
Last Wednesday, I had an awful, off day. As I was about to leave for work, I realized that my cell phone was missing. As soon as I realized the phone was missing, I flew into a panic, rummaging through my laundry bins and trash cans. A big pit of fear opened in my stomach, all because my phone was gone.
If you had asked me four years ago whether or not this was a cause for terror, I would have answered “of course not.” See, I came late to cell phones. I bought my first phone in 2007, in order to be a precinct captain on the Obama campaign. (We had to call in our precinct results at a very specific time to the Attorney General’s office.) Once both my husband and I had cell phones, we cut off our land line. After all, why pay twice for a service? Since we cut off our land line, my phone never leaves my side. Until last Wednesday.
I began backtracking my steps and I realized that the last place I saw my phone was on my bus ride home on Tuesday. I ran outside and searched the snow banks from my bus stop to my front door, hoping to see a frozen piece of electronics. But, unfortunately, it was gone.
That meant that I had to buy a new phone, on a moment’s notice. In the back of my mind, I was planning on upgrading, one day, to a new Android smartphone. Unexpectedly, that day was here. So, I spent a good hour at the store, looking a different models and feeling a little sick to my stomach. Did I want this type or that type of phone? Will it do all the things I want it to do? Will it turn me into a machine? Eventually, I settled on a phone and took it home.
Once I took it home, I felt like it was this new thing I had to conquer. I had not planned on owning this advanced little piece of machinery, so I wondered what I was supposed to do with it. I plunged into researching the phone, the system, tips and techniques to use it, fun applications that other people had found. I read user manuals and product reviews and shortcuts. I wanted to be an expert.
I’ve now had the new phone for a week and I do love it. It’s sleek and intuitive. It can do a million and one useless things (compass, flashlight, barcode scanner) and a bunch of quite useful things (merges my work and personal contacts and calendars, accesses the full internet, stores to-do lists). It also makes phone calls, I think.
I’ve been wondering how to best integrate this device into my life. I want to remember that it’s a tool that I use, not a tool that defines me. I am terrified of turning into one of those people who interacts with her phone more than with other people. I wonder what the impact will be on my creative life, to have a miniature computer by my side at all times. Will it help me to become more connected to other artists through my various social media outlets? Will it allow me to write more micropoetry, since I can just compose directly on the little screen? Or will it make me feel more isolated and disconnected, as I rely more and more heavily on its functions?
I am very aware that this is a first world, middle class dilemma. I am very lucky to be able to afford these kind of problems. In this section of society, we have become so connected to our machines and our stream of electronic information. When and how do we unplug? Do we want to anymore? I feel like this is much more intense than my laptop computer, because frankly, I turn that off and on. My phone is always on, always with me. Should it be?
I would love to hear from those artists and writers who have integrated technology into your work. How do the various smartphones and tablets function in your life? Do you have a desire to plug in more deeply or to turn it off at times? How has your creative process changed since you’ve bought into this type of electronic connectedness?