Speeding along the highway to meet a friend for lunch, I remembered I forgot my cell phone. Stifling the urge to upend my bag at 65 mph, I rehearsed how I would contact my friend, whose cell phone number, I realized I did not know.
I’ll call Doug, and ask him to retrieve my phone, and find her number in the phone’s contact list, I say to myself.
Good plan – except public telephones are not immediately obvious in a large mall. So, began an interesting trek – watching what seemed like ALL who passed by, happily connected to their phones – chatting, texting, scrolling. Everybody was connected but me!
When I asked, though, gracious sales clerks lent me the store’s phone, so I could dial our home phone, and Doug’s cell. The problem was, he didn’t pick up – maybe he didn’t recognize the number – or couldn’t hear the phone. (We have moderated the tone on the house phone – whose ring full volume is jarring.) Eventually he did – and I made the necessary connections, but the experience could have been fodder for an episode of the Twilight Zone!
Realizing she has entered a parallel universe, she recognizes many familiar sights, and recognizable carbon-based life forms, she relaxes until she also notices she is without an essential communication unit, one firmly attached to every human life form, who apparently requires it for information, direction and entertainment. While no one questioned her conspicuous need, no one offered to share . . . how then could she communicate with the Mothership to confirm location and ascertain orders?
But I digress . . .
Once upon a time being alone in a chic shopping mall, disconnected so to speak from cares, commitments and ordinary crises, well, it was great. There was something exhilarating about being alone, off the grid – a description that had no meaning to me until the past decade or so.
Now panicky does not describe adequately the agitation I feel when I realize I’ve misplaced or forgotten my little computer buddy which is the repository of a bunch of data, memories, and directions than I ever could imagined carrying ten years ago. It even has a library of drawings I can substitute for words I can’t quite write.
Wait – is this a good sign or a bad one that I am using pictures for emotions, events, or ideas?
Maybe Harry Potter’s creator was right:
Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain. ~J.K. Rowling
Other writers, writing well before Ms. Rowling – who wrote out her yarns in long-hand – warned about technology:
Technology: “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” ~Max Frisch, c.1960s
Cell phones are not a sign of power; they’re a sign of subservience. ~Doug Pappas
However, a contributor to this marvelous machine-dependent world that has altered my world-view about what I must always have with me, urged offered an antidote
Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower. ~Alan Kay
I am so glad writers like Jane Austen, and Shakespeare and Harriet Beecher Stowe and J.K. Rowling figured out how to describe experiences, tones of voice, and emotions with words — the same ones I can use. And I am so grateful for gardens and fields – filled with flowers, whose beauty both challenges and comforts my faith, in ways a smart phone can never communicate:
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30New Living Translation ~ NLT)