Ruled by My iPhone

Somewhere in the fine print of my cell phone contract, I think I missed the part where I’m required to always have it on.  And with me.  And answer it.

I knew living in Ireland would require some major adjustments, but the one I didn’t anticipate was a social group that expected me to have my mobile phone with me all the time.  This wasn’t just the youngsters, it was everyone in my generation, too.   Although we had a landline, most of them insisted on calling the mobile and leaving a message instead of trying the other number. They didn’t e-mail, they texted.

I couldn’t hear the mobile from the other end of the house, especially if it was still in my purse.  Why should I be required to have it surgically attached?  And I didn’t think to check it for messages on a regular basis.  I was a mild e-mail fanatic, checking it several times a day, but otherwise living an old-school life.  Facebook was for sharing funny pictures, and phones were to actually talk to people.  And definitely not for sending notes that required pressing 7 four times to get an S.

Against my better judgment, I gave in and learned to text.  By the time we returned to the States, it seemed like everyone was glued to their phones.  Smart phones, dumb phones, and everything in between. And then we chose not to get a landline, so I’ve had to learn to keep my phone charged and with me.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I’m supposed to be available.  Watching Once Upon a Time? Answer it.  Reading Phillipa Gregory’s new book? Answer it.  Washing dishes? Dry hands and answer it.  Cooking dinner?  Break my neck trying to hold a slim iPhone between my ear and shoulder, and answer it.

And that’s just the calls when I’m home and would hear a landline anyway.

Even when I’m avoiding speeding semis on the freeway, or deciding between Wheat Chex and Cocoa Krispies at the grocery store, or – dare I say it – having lunch with a friend, the cell phone will ring, and I will be expected to answer it.

Heaven forbid it should happen when I’m in the bathroom.  Do I answer it?  How much can they hear through the speaker?  And if I don’t answer it, do I really tell them where I was when I call back?

In Jane Austen’s day, ladies actually had “at home” mornings.  Friends and neighbors knew that you would be home and ready for visitors at a particular time.  And if they couldn’t call by, they could send a note – the post came two or three times a day, after all.

I don’t know that I’d go that far back, but sometimes I long for the days when I’d just set the answering machine to silent.  My time was my own.  I would dig in the soft loam of the garden, with the breeze in my hair and the birds calling above.  I would send my children swinging high and listen to their shrieks of laughter.  I might just read several chapters of a book at one time.

I’d answer the phone once in a while, sure, but it would be an occasional occurrence, not constant.

I do manage to ignore it while on a busy freeway, and I refuse to put my in-person friend on hold just so I can talk to someone who’s not there.  I give in at the grocery store, which gives my caller a distracted conversation and me some unplanned-for items in my shopping cart.

At home it’s a different story.  My phone chirps and I run to see what the message is.  I answer tweets and texts right away.  I can look at who’s calling and I may roll my eyes, but I answer it anyway.

Hubby O’Mine & Li’l KC – the sweetest grandbaby in the world!

Why do I do this to myself?  What part of me isn’t strong enough to guard my privacy, my autonomy?  It is my fault, after all – I was the one who shelled out for the iPhone when Hubby O’Mine said it wasn’t in the budget.

But look what I can do! I get instant pictures of my grandbaby.  I get coupons for ever more craft supplies at JoAnn’s and Michael’s.  I can send my mother in Oregon a quiet “good morning” when it’s too early to call.

I use GasBuddy to find the cheapest fuel prices.  GoogleMaps keeps me from getting lost.  I can even use my phone as an airline boarding pass.

All in all, it’s worth it, especially if I can re-learn some self-control.  Right now it’s sitting on the counter and I have about 40 pages left in my book.  Will the heroine make the right choice?  Will the ancient treasure be found?  Will the . . .

Excuse me while I go see who just texted me.

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11 Responses to Ruled by My iPhone

  1. I wouldn’t trade technology for anything. I have a very special relationship with my iPhone :-D. That said, as a child of the digital age for some reason it’s never bothered me to let the phone take the call if I’m busy. It has voice mail 🙂 It’s ok to screen that phone call and let it go to voice mail. I actually find a great sense of power when I do that!
    Melinda VanLone recently posted..Walking Sticks and ButterfliesMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      I can let it go to voice mail, but I feel guilty if I’m not doing anything “important.” And sometimes other people (who are happily constantly connected) feel like I should be there all the time. But hey, sometimes I just don’t feel like talking! So I don’t.

  2. Your grandbaby is a darling! About phones: I’m with Melinda; when you’re busy, let calls go to voice mail and respond to them later.

    For a long time, I had so little hearing, it was hard for me to use a phone, even with amplication. When text messaging came along, it kept me tethered to people when I was out and about. Text messaging is a huge blessing for the hard of hearing. Nowadays (two cochlear implants later) I can use a regular phone, but it’s not a cinch. At home, I have a Cap Tel phone that translates what the caller says into text. It’s awesome. Eventually, I’ll trade up to an iPhone because captioning technology is available for the 4G version. The advances in phone technology have been lifesavers for me.
    Pat O’Dea Rosen recently posted..Life Lessons Learned from Reality Cooking ShowsMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      When I’m busy, voice mail rules. It’s when I’m not really that I go on a guilt trip. But . . . it sounds like cell phones are fantastic for you! I never thought about texting when you’re hard of hearing. How great is that? Now I’ve got to go see what you’ve learned from Reality Cooking Shows.

  3. Emma Burcart says:

    This is so right on for me! Before I had a smart phone, I didn’t use it all that much. I was the one who everyone yelled at for never having the phone with her. But, now it is always by my side. I check email, facebook, and Twitter way too often. And when I go to Starbucks to write and purposefully don’t sign on to the wifi, I end up checking my phone anyway. It really does need to stop! I keep it on silent so that I don’t hear it, so I don’t always answer. But, I just can’t stay away from the internet.

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      It’s hard enough to turn email and internet off when I”m writing at home. You mean I have to turn the phone off, too? See, I *have* gotten hooked!

  4. My husband is like that with his phone and it drives me nuts! I put off getting a smart phone until I got sent to a client site to work, where tons of stuff on the Internet is blocked – so now I use it to read the occasional blog, etc. But if someone calls when I’m busy I have no problem hitting the Ignore button!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..Gritty in the City with Jim WinterMy Profile

  5. I often daydream about the days before cell phones. But then I worry about how I wouldn’t be able to get in touch with my children at a moments notice and all sorts of other convienent things. We have technology free times at my house where we don’t use computers, phones, ipads etc. and just spend the evening as a family. It helps!
    Kara Flathouse recently posted..The Conflicted Chef- 3 Sisters Making Healthy LasagnaMy Profile

  6. Ooma says:

    Comforts of old age – you can “forget” where you left the little beastie, you can “forget” to take it off the charger, you can “forget” to turn it back on after you’ve been to church, or you can live in Oregon and just not answer it when you”re driving somewhere.

  7. KJR says:

    Let me help you with this problem…

    I won’t randomly call or text or send you pictures anymore. 🙂

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Hah – you did it! But note some of the last paragraphs and the awesome things phones can do. And besides, as long as I remember to keep it close, you’re one of the ones I always answer! Of course, if it’s upstairs and I’m down . . . hmm, back where I started.