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February 25, 2010

Left to Our Own Devices

Texting Look at where we have found ourselves. Smack on the road to the second decade of the millenium and we have all become hopelessly dependent. Not on our spouses, employers or parents. Not even on our friends and families. We are now tethered to those delicious little devices and networks that were invented to help us...

simplify.

If only! 

Blackberries, iphones, droids, laptops, linkedin, facebook, twitter, youtube, now foursquare; all the makings of a handheld world. We have been given the 'gift' of the ability to leave the house, the office, the country for goodness sake and still be able to stay connected with our jobs and our families. 

Gone are the days that you have to sit at your desk to do your job. Gone also are the days when a working mother has to leave the house with that awful pit in her stomach worrying that her caregiver and kids can't reach her at any given moment.

Ok, that is the upside. But what happens when you hit the dreaded... dead zone! I personally have lived with iphone envy for years because I live in an area where AT&T is simply not an option. 

Last week I met someone for drinks. We were both in between other appointments. Within 12 hours we had connected via twitter, voicemail, linkedin and text messaging. There we sat, enjoying a long needed glass of wine when he realized – much to his dismay – that neither his blackberry (T-mobile) nor his iphone (AT&T) had service and he had no way of getting in touch with the next person he was going to meet. He was in device gridlock!

I describe this scene lovingly for I have been him more often than I care to admit.

On he went with what I like to refer to as the 'find the bars dance'. You know the moves, you pace back and forth in front of the window, walk outside in the freezing cold, hold the device up in the air and wave it around, all with the hope that you will have service just long enough to make that one crucial call/text/email/tweet. And of course that is if the damn device has not run out of juice by the end of the day, for you have surely left your charger elsewhere.

Of course the dance is accompanied by a soundtrack of disbelief that 'this piece of garbage sucks' because you should have known better than to 'trust this outdated first generation (fill in the blank) – it simply must be replaced!' 

There is always that level of shock and panic when we realize that we have been sitting, heaven forbid, for an hour enjoying a glass of wine without the full knowledge that we were virtually...

unreachable!

Ok, so how did we survive before all this? I remember a time, not all that long ago, when my cell phone was mounted in my car. When I first had kids I carried a beeper. Another mom and I used to say that we suffered from beeper anxiety. We were actually stressed out by the connection. Our clients could always reach us, intruding on every moment of family time. Now the thought of not having that access is what unnerves us.

Is this bad? Of course not. This is evolution. Was it bad when telephones replaced letter writing? Or when TV replaced radio? Did we grieve over the loss of the Sony Walkman when the ipod came on the scene? Of course not, unless of course we had Sony stock and not Apple. 

But what all this device dependence must teach us is that we need to lighten up just a bit. Lower the volume on all the input and learn to roll with it when we have to unplug.

For if we are left to our own devices we sometimes lose perspective on how important it is to simply be present. 

Now speaking of presents, a new iphone would be a great gift for that friend of mine with the first gen model, don't you think?

Original 50-something Mom Blog post. Amy also blogs at i could cry but i don't have time and leaving the zip code.

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