I mentioned this previously, but I’ve owned the same cellphone, a venerable Samsung a640 for almost 6 years now, which is eons when it comes to that technology. I’ve been oft-criticized for that (as someone working in the information technology field, it goes against the expectations of many, as does my indifference for video games) and rarely draws any sort of respect (though I’ve been curiously painted as some sort of luddite technology freedom fighter, which might make sense considering my main home computer dates back to my college days, minus some upgrades that were done more to keep the damn thing running than to have any noticeable advancement in performance or features), but so far, I’ve resisted the allure and draw of the smart phone world.
It’s funny, my Dad, who calls me for computer and technology advice, now owns a “better” phone than I do. At least his has a full keyboard for texting and a bevy of other features like email and the Internet and apps. In fact, he called me to get my opinion on whether the phone he had chosen would be a good fit.
But it has been a deliberate decision on my part and not one that I don’t question often, moreso now that others continue to poke fun and question my position.
What it boils down to is being present in the moment, something that I fear by stating will immediately draw irk from some of my friends. But the fact of the matter remains:
On the weekend, a very close friend of mine got married. I had the privilege of being one of his groomsmen and the night before the ceremony, a group of us, including the other groomsmen and the groom himself went out to eat. The place was packed and as luck would have it, as we were being shown our seats, the bride-to-be called. Because the groom doesn’t have a cellphone (something that I have to mostly respect him for), the bride called my number and I passed the phone over. After the conversation, the groom sat down, clearly with some jitters in his mind, while the rest of the table continued to fool around with their Blackberries, iPhones, whatever.
With the others floating in their technological bubbles, I took the opportunity to talk to the groom. He wasn’t really in the chatting mood and so it goes, but I begin to wonder what would have been the case if he was in need of an ear and I was equally absorbed into an email, a Facebook feed, a tweet or something else? With everyone’s attentions turned to their screens, there wasn’t much in the way of a flow of conversation.
I remember I ran a half-marathon in May of 2010 and I fell apart right around kilometer 15. At the time, all I needed was someone to talk to, someone to run beside and take my mind off of my short breath, failing stride and fiery lungs. I was in a race with thousands of people but everyone close by was plugged in, listening to music or whatever, headphones in the ears and in their own tech bubbles.
Since then, I know that some races have instituted a no-MP3 player policy, not only for safety reasons but also for the general social aspects. I’ve made some great friends over the course of half-marathons and I understand and love the idea behind those policies.
And so it is the same with technology’s impact with many aspects of our lives, ‘bringing people together’ but pulling them apart. Maybe that’s why I continue to view my cottage with an almost mythical vision. Cell signals simply do not reach there. Phones are useless unless they’re landline. For once, being present in the moment is a forced duty.
Call it luddite, or maybe I don’t want to be accessible all the time or maybe I’m afraid that I’ll abuse it and let it abuse me and find myself answering work emails at 9pm on a Thursday, but more and more, I’m wondering how much longer I can hold out.