Cell Phone Culture Shock

It’s hard to recall a day when a cell phone wasn’t part of it, and yet I got along without one for most of my life. I can’t remember if I ever used the phone when I was really little, but memorizing the number was one of my earliest tasks. I still remember that number, even though we moved when I was 5 and got a new number. Of all the numbers I’ve had in-between, from home and work, I only remember that old one and my current numbers. As a matter of fact, I barely know anyone else’s phone numbers because they are all in my cell phone’s phone book, readily at my fingertips.

I got my first cell phone 16 years ago when my husband and I took a 10-year anniversary trip to the Virgin Islands. In the end, it didn’t even work there, so it was not the safety net I thought it would be for keeping in touch with my sister while she cared for my toddler son and 5-month old daughter for a week. It wasn’t until 11 years later that I finally fixed the voice mail when we were on vacation with our children and our youngest had a seizure. Suddenly the fact that I never got incoming calls was an issue. It turned out that all incoming calls (for 11 years?) were going directly to voice mail and I didn’t have access to it.

Clearly, my cell phone was under-utilized in those early years. I didn’t know too many people who even had one. My husband didn’t even have one . Today, our family has six cell phones. I’m working on eliminating a line, because my husband has a work phone and a personal phone which he never uses. We also have a landline…I’m wondering why I haven’t canceled that already.

These days, I feel bereft without my phone. I mope and feel disconnected all day when I leave it at home as I did one day this week. Usually, I just go home and get it because it is too much stress otherwise. Of course, I have a phone at work, but none of my family or friends knows the number…they don’t need to as they can always get me on my cell.

More than phone calls, though, it is the texts that keep me comfortable with my kids’ comings and goings as I’m at work. They can ping me with a quick question without disrupting my work. “Did you feed the dog?” “Can I go over to my friend’s house?” “Did you wash my jeans?” “Is Dad coming home tonight?” “Can you call my school and tell them I’m going to be late?” Well, some texts prompt a call-back…but at least I know to call.

Then, there are all the other features available on a smart phone of which I am now addicted. If I’m stuck in line or in a waiting room, or even in a boring meeting, I can do some quick checks. Do I have any Facebook notifications? How about e-mail? Maybe a work e-mail or schedule change? Is it my turn to play Scramble with Friends? Hmmm…wonder what my latest stats are on WordPress.

So, the day I forgot my phone, I sat in a one-hour meeting for an hour and a half waiting for my turn to talk. I kept eyeing my old HP12C calculator wishing it were my phone, or at least that there was something mildly distracting I could do with it. I picked it up and calculated some numbers that I discovered I would need when my turn came. Not quite the same thing, but useful and relevant anyway.

I managed to make it through the entire workday with no cell phone, and nothing bad greeted me when I got home and took a look. Even so, it does provide me with a sense of control when I’m away from home, a way to stay connected with my kids and my traveling spouse. Without it, I am a bit distracted. My how times have changed!

Find the Joy in the Journey and embrace the technology that makes life better for you!

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