Sometimes I’m afraid I come off like a self-righteous grandpa: Complaining about YOU kids and your texting and Twittering and why don’t you just pick up a book, Goddamnit!
I’m by no means technologically illiterate (though “proficient in excel” is a bit of a stretch, resume), but I always fashioned myself, or so I thought, as someone immune to the fleeting rewards and addictive nature of smartphones and social media. Then I blacked out and lost my iPhone.
It started out innocent enough. Just a few drinks with friends to celebrate Christmas Eve before being sequestered with our respective families for the more agonizing portions of the holiday season. Unfortunately, I had already been gifted a large and delicious bottle of Scotch, and things quickly took a turn for the spins and stumbles.
Cut to Christmas morning, and I wake up still wearing a three-piece suit, but without my telephonic device.
After an exhaustive two-day investigation that turned up no leads, I resigned myself to my new 20th century existence.
“How hard could it be?” I thought. “I’m not one of those dimwits who posts on Facebook or compulsively checks his Twitter mentions every 10 minutes,” I exclaimed with the sort of arrogance and obliviousness that only a true fool can possess. “I’ll just call people on a landline. Maybe I’ll even send some letters!” A fool indeed.
The first thing I noticed was how confused other people were.
As it turns out, no one wants to call a landline anymore. No one. “Can I just email you?” is a sentence I must’ve heard 20 times since my phone and I lost touch. The fear of having a surprise interaction with a stranger is too much, apparently, for most 20somethings to bear.
I, too, am not immune to this. Since I can’t communicate on-the-go, I’ve had to resort to — brace yourselves — ringing peoples’ doorbells!
While I thought that would be easy, I have had mini panic attacks on the front steps of close, close friends’ homes, worried that I’ll look like an insane person for just showing up. What if they’re in the middle of sex? Or a murder-suicide? I wouldn’t want to interrupt either of those scenarios.
My social life has certainly slowed a little bit sans phone, which I think has been a blessing and a curse.
I do feel like I’ve missed out on some fun times, at least according to my Facebook feed, but I’ve also saved money by not going out so much, and I’ve minimized the opportunities for me to lose something valuable while out on the town.
It’s also reminded me of who my true friends are: The ones that don’t stare at me with crazy eyes when I show up on their front porch demanding leftovers and access to their Netflix.
It’s reduced my stress a little, as well. Since I have no device on which to make a plan for the day, I’m free to ramble about all day and go wherever I please without fear of blowing someone off or shirking an obligation. I’m not agonizing over the exact wording of the texts I’m not sending. I’m not annoyed that no one liked my 35th Instagram pic of my dog.
As this article goes to press, I will be on my way to the American Telephone and Telegraph (Editor’s note: AT&T) store to activate my new iPhone. It’ll be nice to rejoin the connected world, but I do think I’m an ever-so-slightly better man having lived without the world in my pocket for a few weeks.
If anything, it taught me not to be such a self-righteous dickhead to my friends who Snapchat a lot.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look up who played “street tough #2” in a 2006 episode of “Law and Order: SVU.”