Disconnected

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It's been nearly a week since my iPhone suddenly stopped working. I made a call to my husband that went off without a hitch. Then, I tried to text Colleen. My phone popped up a message that said there was no SIM card. Since there had been a SIM card three seconds earlier for the phone call and I was sitting the same place, with the same phone, I figured it was a little cyber hiccup. Tried again. Same message. Colleen is in the jungle in Costa Rica; only God knows where half the texts I send her actually go. I tried to text Katherine. Katherine is in very civilized Dallas. She has a fully functional iPhone. It didn't work. I tried calling home. Nothing. I tried calling Mary Beth. Nothing. 

Over the next couple of days, I backed up everything on my phone and then deleted and reset. Well, I tried to reset. One cannot reset without a SIM card and my phone continues to insist I don't have one. After two very disappointing trips to AT&T and Apple, I still don't know why my phone doesn't work. I do know that, at the time it suddenly quit working, I was 24 days past my warranty. 

My husband is going to try to see if he commands more respect from either AT&T or Apple. Mike spent all last week in Miami. Just as he arrived home for the weekend, his studio in DC flooded. My sense is that between catching up at the DC office and mopping up at the DC office, phone relacement for me is going to slip a bit on the priority list. I'm actually fine with that for now.

It's become a bit of an experiment. I decided not to fight it too much. This was as good a time as any for an Instagram break. I set a limit on Facebook to 5 minutes a day, mostly just to check local groups with  pertinent kid information. And I promised myself to embrace this opportunity to re-think my habits before getting a new phone.

I figured it would be a day or two. It's not, but God knows I'm a slow learner.

I do miss my phone. First, I miss it for the genuinely important things. There are at least three life-or-death situation text messages I have not read. Two are from friends facing tragic illness. One is much happier. When one of my friends in a tragic situation told me on Friday that she was worried I was mad at her because she'd been texting with bad news for three days and I hadn't responded, I felt terribly. I had put the word out on Facebook that my phone was out of commission, but that's not very reliable, is it? She and I made a promise to have a good, long face-to-face chat. Still, though, I'm haunted that I wasn't there to help in the moment.

When my phone first died, I felt very out of sorts. My phone, for better or worse, is an integral tool in many of my habits. I quickly learned that I check my mail far more often than necessary. Still, since I wasn't checking mail, I nearly missed the email demanding that I fax Stephen's sub order before a deadline or leave him to go hungry on a long out-of-town soccer trip. I've been checking too often, but how often is enough? I have no idea. One of the reasons I wanted a smart phone was because so many people associated with my children assume everyone has one. Checking mail whenever, wherever makes my mom job more efficient.

My prayer routine was seriously affected. Nearly everything was tied to my phone. I've since transferred prayers and such to paper, but I do miss the ease with which it was all there, ready and waiting. And I miss my chapel bells. On the other hand, I like very much that my phone isn't the last thing I put to bed at night these days. I think I will continue to keep night prayers in paper format even after I have a new phone.

I miss my iPhone camera. Ideally, its absence will force me to get to know my new camera and lens. My iPhone was instrumental in developing in me an eye for capturing moments in pictures. Before my iPhone, my brain always processed even the simplest things in words. I did–and still do–think in narrative. After getting an iPhone–now 1 year and 30 days ago–I began to think in pictures too. Or, maybe I always thought in pictures, but now I had a tool for capturing those thoughts with images. I miss that. A lot.

And I am pretty bummed that I missed the virtual waiting room texting party while a small group of us prayed for Patti as she labored and delivered her baby boy on Mother's Day. Early in the labor (the day before Mother's Day), I got an "I'm so sorry your phone doesn't work" email and I suggested that updates be texted to Christian's phone. Poor Christian, it was more than he really wanted to know! Poor me. Christian passed along news when it was convenient, not as it was happening. I had promised Patti to pray and pray I did. I didn't need to know the details. God knew. So often, when we get a prayer request, we press for details. Those details don't make us better prayer warriors. They just satisfy our curiosity. So, I prayed without knowing the updates in real time. I will admit, however, that I broke down on Sunday and asked for Mary Beth's iPhone so I could log out of her Instagram account and on to my own, only to see pictures of Patti's baby.

I was very late to the cell phone party. Everyone I knew had a cell phone when I first got mine for Mother's Day, 12 years ago. It was a super simple phone. I didn't want a phone I could take with me, but our house was on the market and our realtor really thought it was a good idea. I rarely called anyone but Mike. And when Mike called me, he could almost never reach me. It drove him nuts. I always deliberately left the phone in the car. I figured I only needed it when away from the house, so why even bring it inside? If it was in the car, I wouldn't forget it. I existed that way until about last year.

Until 1 year and 30 days ago, I didn't have a smartphone. I didn't even have a QWERTY keyboard. And I didn't much mind. I really wanted an iPhone for the camera. Since acquiring a smartphone, I've learned to appreciate text messaging. Mostly, I love to be able to send little notes to my husband and children. With Mike, I flirt. With my kids, it's so handy to be able to text, "Dude, I just put Sarah to sleep AGAIN up here. I don't care if it's overtime, do not yell at that TV, no matter how great the goal." And yes, I write it all out, just like that, with commas and such, because by golly, if we are all going to being writing so much more than we used to, let's practicing writing well.

Frantic bedtime texts aside, I am definitely missing being able to text my kids. I didn't recognize what a great tool texting has been in staying very connected to my teens.

When my phone first went down, I posted to Facebook. I was looking for suggestions on fixing it and I wanted to let people who usually call or text know that I was out of touch. Gretchen wrote this comment:

I haven't had a cell phone since December…sadly, that coincides with the date I lost all my friends. I am completely isolated from all my real life "friends."

I replied: do you still have a home phone? Can you call that way? Can you email them?

And she said:  I can call them or email them…but, most people want to text so they won't call me. I have a whole blog post going together on how the cell phone/internet ruined real conversations and friendships.

I thought she must be exceptionally unlucky in friendship. I have since discovered that there is a certain degree of truth to what she's saying. People are in the habit of texting instead of talking. It's been very quiet around here, despite my repeated attempts to persuade people to call my home phone. And of course, I'm much less available to those people because I'm only available when I'm at home. It's been really interesting to see how that dynamic works. It's also been very heartwarming to know that there are some people in my life who will always find a way to share.

It's going to be at least a couple more days until I have a cell phone again. I'm still thinking for that perfect balance of use. Surely, most people who read this will think I'm overthinking and it's ridiculous.

Regardles the outcome of this experiment, I need to cultivate a big camera habit. I have no pictures of the beautiful Mother's Day dinner Mike and Christian crafted. I have no pictures of Patrick (and Zach), bearing roses and surprising me with a visit on Mother's Day. I have no pictures of the glorious place where Nick played soccer. Well, actually, Mike took about a zillion pictures of Sarah there and they are wonderful. I asked him to send them to me, but he must have sent the small files. They're all pixelated. Maybe I can share those tomorrow. There no chance I'm calling the flood zone (from my home phone) and asking him to send the large files.

Mary Beth did grab the big camera a few times last weekend. Nick and I spent several hours on Saturday trying to tame the jungle that wants to be my rose garden again.They were mostly prickly weeds and it was slow going. Thank goodness for Christian, who bagged eight lawn bags full of the debris. I was undistracted by texting or by photographing. We made great progress, but there are still plenty of weeds to pull. Maybe once they're all gone, a phone will appear. Or maybe not.

For more about the lovely chair (including a tutorial) and for an introduction to my new favorite blog, click here. You will be so glad you did.

Comments

  1. Patty says

    As someone who still has a non QWERTY phone that I leave in my car and only have my children or my husband call me, I don’t think you over thought this at all. I found it all very interesting, helpful, and thought provoking. When I do finally break down and get a smart phone, probably for the same reasons that you did, I will be able to know the advantages and pitfalls before hand. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  2. says

    I recently bought a pay-as-you-go non-smart cell phone. I only bought it because we live so far from a town that I wanted some peace of mind if anything ever happened while driving. I agree with Gretchen that texting and the internet have completely ruined friendships.

  3. says

    Oh Elizabeth I am really sorry about the poor customer service! We’ve always had good luck here with our ApplePeople — I really hope you get it sorted out soon.
    I’m not a big internetty sort of person — no facebook or instagram or anything like that. My mother and my (grown) son and I all iMessage one another and it really is the most convenient way, now, for us: since the brain tumor using the phone triggers my vertigo something awful; email is harder too, compared to iMessaging — and yes :-) We all use full sentences too :-) My son and I both have iPads — so incredibly worth the investment!! — and we all three have iPhones, although now my son and I both have cheap basic cell phones because that was so much less expensive for our phone needs (the iPhones still work in wifi and as cameras, of course).

  4. says

    LOL. :-) I was beginning to think your post was a little long-winded. Then I realized, “Poor thing. She’s suffering from a disconnect and needs to get it all OUT.” A few years ago, I read an excellent and entertaining book titled, THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONNECT, by Susan Maushart. This might be an excellent time for you to pick up a copy. Just sayin’.

  5. says

    Sorry ’bout that. I’ve found that as the internet explodes, lots of people don’t have the patience for more than a snippet of a thought. Then they move on. I like to write complete thoughts. In this case, it’s been several days since I carved out time for the computer, so I tried to get a little mother’s Day news in, too, because time is precious and I’m not sure when I’ll find myself back here:-). I appreciate your patient understanding with my long-windedness. I try not to just blow empty air.

  6. says

    I see this more and more, even with my own phone usage. I admit that it is easier to email or text than to call. I agree with your friend, relationship building is taking a back seat to technology these days.
    I hope you can get your phone issues resolved soon. It is nice to have things at your fingertips, especially with so many schedules to coordinate.

  7. says

    I just got my Iphone a year ago also. I found exactly what you did – that everyone on the boys’ teams assumed EVERYONE could check their emails from ANYWHERE. The day there was a field change at the last minute and I couldn’t check emails on my old cell phone was the day I reluctantly bought a Smart Phone. Now I’m considering taking the FB app off of it, so that I will go back to reading books or actually talking to people while I wait for the ball game to start. Say Hi to the girlies for me! Oh, and the boys, too ;) Sounds like you had a great Mother’s Day. Have a great week!!!

  8. Marie says

    I think you’ve brought up some really important points about the way communication is changing, like it or not. Thanks for doing that! I enjoy your longer posts. Also, although I’m not really sure how it all works, I believe you can check Instagram on the computer, and there are ways to text through email. Here’s hoping it all gets resolved soon.

  9. Robin says

    Thank you for this post… I, too, miss the days of talking to my friends on the phone. They don’t call me so I don’t call them. :-). I feel like I’m interupting their day somehow, by calling… Somehow, texting to say hi, how are you? And getting great, how are you? Is not what I’m going for, :-). I do enjoy b
    eing able to text my husband at work, we can communicate more frequently that way.

  10. says

    You can check Instagram at the computer. If you click the camera icon on the top righthand side of the sidebar here, it will take you to my instagram page. You can go directly to Instagram, too. I find myself checking Instagram when I’m bored (standing in line, waiting to pick up a child, etc). I find myself posting to Instagram many, many times when the itch to record strikes. I guess I’m asking myself if it’s necessary to publish, or if just recording would suffice.

  11. says

    Yep, I still have the old school mobile phone. Sometimes, my husband takes it to work as it really is our family mobile phone and people are amazed I can get by without it. Really, not that tricky.
    I loved hearing about your conversation with Gretchen. I have an acquaitance whome I have rung on the landline, left a message on the answering machine, only to have a text message back from her. What you couldn’t pick up your landline and phone?

  12. Lin says

    Enjoyed your post, and didn’t find it long-winded at all! Love long posts! I was especially intrigued by your thought on the technology/relationship issue. I find myself missing phone conversations with friends, and even that ancient form of communication, the hand-written letter. (For the younger readers, allow me to translate: Snail Mail) LOL!
    As always, I’m thankful for your blog. Gives me a quiet spot of sanity in this ever-changing world!
    Thank you!

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