Cutting the Cord

During this trip to Florida we've been spending time doing some "housekeeping" things, preparing to leave the house for what will likely be a more extended period of time as the uncomfortable Florida heat and humidity begin to take hold.   We came down this particular week largely to help facilitate the transport of my son's car from here to his new home in Texas.  Unfortunately, due to some very poor customer service on the part of the transport company, that may not be happening.  You can imagine what he has to say about that, having been without his prize Pontiac GTO for the past four months ~ and if you can't imagine, you can read about it on his blog.  But we also had a small roof leak which led to some water damage in our third bedroom, so we've been getting that fixed up too. The other day, after a trip to Home Depot, we stopped at Publix to gather provisions for the week.  It's hot here already, and we discovered straight away that the air conditioning in our car wasn't working.  Windblown and sweaty, I hurried inside the nicely chilled grocery store, and reached into my purse for the grocery list.  As I rummaged around inside it, I realized my cell phone wasn't in its usual pocket.  I groped around at the bottom of the bag - no phone.  I upzipped all the zipper pockets on the outside of the purse and looked inside.

Then I searched all those places again, more frantically this time.


My mind raced back to the time I last used it - outside the Home Depot, where I was sitting on a bench and talking to my mother.  I clearly recalled putting it back inside my purse when I ended the call.  (In spite of my last post, I still remember some things!)  But what if it slipped out and fell on the sidewalk outside the store?  We'd have to drive all the way back there in the hot, windy car and look for it.  And what it wasn't there?  My monkey mind raced ahead - I knew I wasn't eligible for a new phone until April 10, because I was thinking about getting an iPhone and had recently logged into my Verizon account  to check my status.  A mere 10 days away- but I couldn't live without my phone for 10 days, especially here  in Florida where I don't have any other means of communication!

Panic set in.

I wheeled my basket up to the front of the store where J. sat in the little cafe to wait for me.  "My phone is gone!" I cried, with nearly as much fear as if I were announcing the loss of our firstborn child.

Looking back, I'm appalled at the intensity of my reaction.  But it proves something I've been feeling for quite some time - I am much too dependent on my technology.

Granted, society fosters this dependence, with the proliferation of electronic information, the convenience of being able to communicate instantly and from anywhere, and the expectation that you will take advantage of this ability.  My husband and I text each other on a regular basis, many of my friends text me, and in fact, a few of my younger friends hardly ever call but communicate almost entirely by text.   I've had eleven emails from my office in the past three days, even though I worked extra hours before I left to insure that all the essential things were done and/or covered in my absence this week.  Luckily, no one has called me (in fact, that would have been the one good thing about losing the cell phone- no work calls!)

The other day as I contemplated life without a cell phone and realized the grim level of panic that possibility incurred, it started me thinking more and more seriously about cutting the cord on my technological dependence - not just the cell phone, but the internet too.  Too many hours have been frittered away in aimless internet searching, following one link after the other, restlessly scanning pages and videos.  On days when I've made a concerted effort to stay off the internet until an appointed time when all other activities have been completed, I'm amazed at how much more productive I've been.  It's not just a matter of the time consumed, it's also the attention involved.  Perhaps younger people are better equipped to handle the fast paced, fragmented cyber world ~ my aging brain is clearly suffering under the strain.

I'm not naive enough to think I can completely sever my connection to technology.  But I can take some serious steps to wean myself from what's become a compulsion an addiction. Here's my experiment:  I'm changing my home page from Facebook to the local newspaper.  I'm removing Facebook and Twitter from my bookmarks bar and placing their links in a separate folder which will require three steps to access.  I will not use the internet for personal reasons on work days until I've finished at the office for the day - and this will be a difficult test, because I have to use the internet for work reasons.  And finally, I will completely unplug on Sundays, and will use the computer only to write.

As for my  phone - it had fallen out of my purse onto the floor of the car.  And since I'm admitting my electronic addiction, I'll tell you exactly how far I've fallen dear reader - I kissed my cell phone.

So I think when April 10 rolls around, I'll just hang onto my two year old phone with its tactile keypad, no data plan, and 100 texts per month.   That should suit my new dialed back lifestyle just fine.