August 29, 2012

Disconnect: A Tale of No Texts

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11:54 a.m.: It’s been three hours and 24 minutes since a gripping terror came over me when my phone would not turn on. After visiting the Verizon store confirmed my suspicion that I had no warranty and no upgrades, I have realized my disconnection from the world. However, no amount of “likes” on a witty Facebook status about losing my phone can heal my broken heart — I mean, phone.

Clearly I am obsessing. I’ve found a way to bring up the subject in every conversation I’ve had today. People who don’t even have my number now know that they shouldn’t expect me to text them back. I found myself staring at a freshman in Martha’s waiting for a quesadilla because he was checking his phone the whole time. I bet that poor guy will never go to Martha’s again. Every time he sees me he’ll remember me in that way you remember everyone you interacted with in the beginning of freshman year and think, that’s the creepy girl.

12:13 p.m.: Is this what an anxiety attack feels like?

12:14 p.m.: I feel like someone who has lost a limb and has phantom limb syndrome. I keep reaching for my phone and the reality that it’s not there slaps me in the face.

12:20 p.m.: More accurately, I feel like someone who has lost their vision. All of my senses are heightened. I’m comprehending all the conversations around me. Colors are more vivid. My reactions are quicker. I imagine this is what being on Adderall feels like. Where do text messages go when they die?

12:38 p.m.: Facebook has never before in history been checked and refreshed with as much fervor.

1:06 p.m.: Exactly six out of 11 people sitting on the benches in front of Bailey Hall are on their cell phones right now.

1:42 p.m.: What if, right now, the guy I met one weekend last year from Virginia who I was sure was the love of my life is trying to call me right now?!

5:22 p.m.: I walk into my room and check my phone, then remember it’s still broken.

8:30 p.m.: I’m kind of getting excited to go out without a phone. I wrote my roommate’s phone number on my arm with a sharpie, you know, for emergencies.

11:00 p.m.: The extent of my freedom is realized. This lifestyle is something I could really get used to. I’m completely independent and connected to no one. I’ve come to the conclusion that life was definitely better before we had cell phones. I find myself much more social and able to connect with people because I can’t just stand there checking my cell phone. There is no social safety net.

Why was I initially so freaked out?

I’m as sick of hearing about how I am a “millennial” as I am sick of hearing about the upcoming presidential election (read: if someone calls me a millennial one more time I will slap them). But, I have to admit, my anxiety and terror surrounding not having a cell phone is a pretty millennial thing to feel. We love our cell phones, because they connect us to people. I can talk to eight other people at one time, but at what cost? Usually that cost is ignoring the person standing right in front of you.

By the time this article is published, I’ll have a cell phone again. Things will be back to normal. But in the meantime, people who want to see me will have to go out of their way to do so. They’ll have to email me and set up a time to hang out, not just text me at any hour demanding to know my location. If I want to tweet something, I’ll have to remember it and wait until I’m at a computer. (Actually, that sounds really lame. I don’t think Twitter would have survived in the pre-smartphone era). Even so, I’ll be less connected to all my social media platforms! It will be another whole greater level of freedom. These few days are going to be revolutionary.

In fact, maybe I’ll just never get a cell phone again!

Yeah, right.

Morgan Bookheimer is a senior in the College of Human Ecology. She may be reached at mbookheimer@cornellsun.com. Behind the Time appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Morgan Bookheimer