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.


19 thoughts on “Cutting the Cord

  1. Am feeling much the same these days, Becca; and when your work requires internet participation, that feeling of fragmentation can seem to be built into the job description. … and I don’t think it’s a function of your so-called aging brain at all: the teens I see seem to suffer just as much.

    As for me, it’s an issue I struggle with. Recently made a similar decision about my phone: no data plan for me — there’s already too much data in my life — and I don’t miss it at all. Hope you enjoy your dialed -back life as well!

    • I wonder how well teenagers and young adults really handle the constant bombardment of information. I understand many teenagers text thousands of times per month. I can’t even imagine that. I don’t know how teenagers could ever “unplug” ~ they’re entire social life would be kaput!

  2. I do not give out my cell phone number unless it’s an emergency and my cell phone is never on unless I’m traveling or I need to contact someone to say I’m going to be late or I have some other situation that needs doing about. It leaves me free and relaxed and without having the pressure of always needing to answer a phone. I a
    Love it!

  3. Oh, this was funny to read. I’m addicted to the Internet. I admit it, but I have no love for cell phones, texting, Facebook or Twitter. In fact, I resent being expected to answer my cell phone no matter where I am or what I’m doing when it rings. I’ve had more than a few discussions with relatives about it. I tell them to call my house phone first. If they can’t reach me they can leave a message or call my cell. I’ll answer the cell IF it’s convenient. LEAVE A MESSAGE! Boy, I’m crotchety!

    • Actually, I think you’re being very realistic. Cell phones are definitely a mixed blessing. My husband is joined to the hip with his…the other day he was trying to drive his (stick shift) car, talk on the phone, and then the clutch pedal got stuck and he was trying to reach down and pull it up manually! “Put that phone down!” I hollered. Sheesh.

  4. I do love my cell phone. But I don’t use it very much. It’s just there, to be used when needed, and it does come in handy since I’m isolated so much of the time.

    Otherwise, it’s just so much gadgetry to me. The one huge cell phone trauma I’ve had was leaving it at the pharmacy the night before we evacuated for Hurricane Ike. That was bad. Really bad. I’d gone to pick up mom’s prescriptions and left it laying there. I discovered it was gone five minutes after the pharmacy closed. They kept it for me, but I couldn’t get it until I got home post-hurricane. I did have an old phone and Verizon transferred my number to it for the duration – they were really helpful.

    The one thing I intend to do during this next hurricane season is establish a minimum texting plan and learn how to use it. I’ve never texted in my life, but in the aftermath of both Rita and Ike, folks who couldn’t get cell calls through were able to text. Being able to touch base with folks is worth a lot in those situations.

    Otherwise? The thought of texting, facebooking, etc. is pretty much a snooze. Besides, who wants to be bothered by something ringing or vibrating or doing whatever a hundred times a day?

    • Cell phones do give you a sense of security. I take my when I walk the dogs, although I’d rather have the feeling of being “dialed out” of the rest of the world for those 30 minutes. Still, I remember the winter morning several years ago that I fell and broke my right arm and had to get home on my own with the two dogs. Not fun. It would have been really nice to have a phone to call a neighbor for help!

  5. I have a love-hate relationship with technology — or at least personal technology (don’t take my microwave away!). I have a cell phone — pay as you go every three months (whether you went or not). I use it so little that once I lost all the minutes and generally by the time it gets to summer and I take it to the lake (where there is no phone, and I can call to have nice conversations with Rick when I’m there by myself), I have plenty of minutes to do so! It’s rarely with me during a typical day. I view this as one less thing to lose!

    The computer is a little different. Like some of those who commented before (and you), I spend all day on my computer at work and part of my work job is monitoring Facebook and twitter. Which means, of course, that you monitor your own as long as you’re in there. I hate twitter… everything about it. (Although I suspect I’d change my tune in a national emergency). FB — I learn a lot from the links, and it’s nice to be in touch, but ….

    I think what bugs me about both of those is that you may be in touch with people, and you may know what’s going on in their life, but you really don’t know how they feel or why. The thing I love about blogging is that you get a sense of personality. That works for me!

    So, you won’t find me giving that up — though like you, I try to do other things first. But don’t look for me to be texting you anytime soon!

    • In thinking about it, what I like most about my cell phone is the sense of security. When I’m away from home, I know my mom can easily get hold of me if she needs to. Also, I can communicate with Jim when we’re apart. I don’t feel the need to talk to people when I’m shopping. I do talk on the phone when I’m driving, but I have the Sync bluetooth system in my car so its hands free, and I like that.

      The texting thing – sometimes I like it, sometimes not. And Twitter – I don’t much care for it either.

      You’re right about blogging – you get a much better feeling for someones personality and interests than on Facebook where it’s occasionally nothing more than posturing for “friends.” Blogging friends feel much more real sometimes!

  6. Well, I just had to come back and tell you about MY morning panic.

    I woke up, wandered to the kitchen and discovered the coffee maker had died. It’s been in decline, but this was it. No coffee? OMG!!!

    Now I know which technological loss will put me into a complete tailspin!

  7. Dear B, I hope you’ll forgive me for laughing when I read that you kissed your cell phone, because, in truth, it resonated VERY loudly with me and so I laughed in delight and rather in a conspiratorial manner. Because I have kissed my journal (having displaced it), my silver earrings (once lost for MONTHS and HM had given them to me which immediately made them dear) and also camera (yes, my camera, whose absence on a trip actually gave me MORE time to enjoy myself, not having to look through a lens all the time.)

    Anyway, I join you in several of the things you mentioned. I got off FACEb a few months ago. Couldn’t take it anymore, timewise. I have dialed way back on emails. I write notes and call people. You will find it easy and have far more time to write, read or meditate.
    Geez, the tech world is noisy, isn’t it?

    • The tech world is VERY noisy. I’ve lately been thinking about writing notes/letters – probably because I’ve been reading books where letters were important.

      Makes me wonder if historians in the future will be perusing e-mail collections in their research. Probably so – how unromantic 🙂

  8. You without a cell phone, me without a computer…equally isolating, in many ways I think. I would have loved to have responded to your email about perhaps catching up on 5th, however I didn’t see it until I came home to my laptop in Chicago! I’ve truly been computerless for all of Spring break, just now returning to my ‘normal’ life. It’s funny how we get a bit dependent on our toys, or technology, isn’t it? I never wanted to be in that position…

  9. Since I chat/surf/FB more than I phone, I am more concerned and stressed by not having an online connection (via one of the too many laptops we own or via data connection on te phone) than not having a phone to ring or text someone.

  10. It’s REALLY frustrating when you have the equipment, but no connection. Our internet service here in Florida is better than at home, actually. Which may or may not be a good thing!

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