Disappearing Phones


I am on my second day without my cell phone.

No, I am not undergoing some metaphysical withdrawal from the world. It is not a Luddite’s reaction to technology. The dang thing just disappeared.

Yep. It was like black magic. A couple of nights ago, my son asked me to come get him from a friend’s house. It was snowing and icing like crazy, but off I went. I had the phone with me. I checked it to find my way, not that it did me any good.

I live in the wilds of Vermont, complete with big chunks of no service geography. But I had it. It glowed and mocked me with its “no service” alert. Amazingly I had not lost the ability to actually find places without my phone’s help and found the house with no problem.

I hung around a while once I got to him. The family he was visiting are a delight and we talked a while as they finished a poetry game they were playing. (Who knew there were poetry games? How many people have kids that like to play poetry games? I live in a blessed world, I think.). Then off we went in the ice and the snow.

When I got home I went to text the woman I love, and no phone.

No worries, I thought. I have phone finder on my ipad.  I tend to leave the phone all over the house and I am used to making it sing by pushing a button on my ipad. I pushed the magic button.

“Your phone ” it said. “does not exist.”

No worries, I thought. I left it in the trusty Trooper. I must have accidently turned it off while traveling.

But wasn’t there.

No worries, I thought. I left it on the table where we all sat and talked and played games.  And there is no cell service there, so it can’t find the phone.

But it wasn’t there either. They checked.

No worries, I thought. I dropped it in the driveway. So I drove back and checked.

It wasn’t there, if it ever was. Diligent and smart people that they are, their driveway was plowed and if my bright blue iphone had ever been there, it now resides in a huge pile of snow, a blue dot of frozen wet useless technology.

It’s disappeared.

I love technology. I’ve made my living in technology for 35 years. I am a total gadget freak. I am always buying new widgets and software just to play with them. But I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with cell phones.

I got my first one (We called them car phones back in the day) when my wife was pregnant with our first child. I traveled and wanted to be connected in case something happened. It didn’t.  It was simple thing, huge in a small gym bag that connected to an antenna on the back of the car. All you could do is call. And even that was sketchy, since, living in the mountains, most of my world had no service.

Good thing there were no emergencies.

Now of course, phones are little computers. Actually calling people seems to be an afterthought. Today we text, skype, facetime, message, pay our bills, watch TV, listen to music and plan our takeover of the western world – all from this tiny slab of technology that lives in our pockets.

I love all that stuff. I feel so James Bond.

Except it comes with a downside. I am available 24/7 in a way I never was. To family, and friends (which I like) and to clients, strangers, and telemarketers. There is an expectation that I can and will be available and will call back within moments once I get a message.

For an introvert like me, and as a writer and artist, I need blocks of time to create, to think and to my best work. And of course, then I get bombarded by people who think I’ve been abducted by three-horned aliens because I went an hour without responding to the latest cat video.

Makes my head swim.

So that’s why I hate the dang thing. I love the connectivity. I hate the connectivity. Don’t tell me that’s not logical. I’m human. I’m not supposed to be logical. Ask Spock.

So I have been phoneless for a couple of days. And it’s killing me. No, I am not feeling the kind of anxiety you read about where I am going through withdrawal as terrible and all-consuming as a detoxing alcoholic, but I miss the thing.

I had no idea how much a part of life it had become.

I don’t have to tell you. You’re probably reading this on your phone. About half my readers do. You text, call, facetime, skype, surf, pay bills and cook scrambled eggs on your phone. Because that is what we do in this day and age.

Part of it is kinda nice. I’ve worked for an hour and a half already this morning with no phone calls. Do you have any idea how much work you can do with no interruptions? I had forgotten. I haven’t checked the weather, or read the news, or watched a single cat video. I read a book (remember those?) this morning early.

But mostly (I hang my head in shame admitting it.), I have missed it. I miss talking off the cuff with the woman I love and the flow of texts between us as things come up through the day. I miss the notes and updates from my kids. I miss the …. Oh hell, I have to admit it, I’m as addicted as kids are these days. I feel crippled, cut off and frustrated.

Does that make me “up to date”, or just another victim of the digital age? I have no idea. But I don’t think I like the idea of being so dependent on a piece of fickle technology that can disappear in a moment.

Maybe there is a support group for this. But I can’t call them.

I don’t have my phone.


PS – My new phone should arrive today. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming when it does. Until then, I no longer exist.



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