and for about 30 seconds I thought about running back inside my house to go and pick it up. But as I have been of late, I left the house 10 minutes after I was “supposed to” in order to get to work on time. With the way the trains have been running, it really doesn’t matter, this 10-minute delay on two mornings this week has enabled me to burst into the Union Square sunshine at the same time as the later train I was taking.
My phone, however, had to stay in my house that day. I didn’t feel like struggling with the building’s heavy door, navigating my bag for my keys, and then coming into my home, prematurely for the day but ready to stay there, prepare a meal, have some wine and relax. I felt like I was missing something, but really, anyone who needed me – and not likely anyone – could email, Facebook, Tweet. We’re on computers all day anyway, and the phone provides a mobile extension of that.
I’ve taken to reading on the train. Not because I need the distraction from the other passengers; trust me, watching them is an cultural exercise. Most are wearing sunglasses, many stare at their phones, others have in headphones, sport sunglasses and are oblivious. This is what iPhone ubiquity has done to us. This is what I miss today. Instead, I had the chance to hear fleeting conversations without my music. Not that I listen to anything profound while reading, but I can’t take that much energy packed into a tiny space some days. Like that expensive cologne on the man next to me, people’s energy can radiate across the car, and I don’t need that before a long workday, especially from people I don’t know and don’t want to know.
My fingers itched to check and see if anyone had texted me as I walked into the office – something, anything, to remember that I have a broad life. Then I realized I couldn’t, but in my quest to think more positively, I remembered that this meant I’d have messages waiting for me when I got home – like digital mail, almost. It was something to look forward to, which I appreciated, being that my mailbox has been devoid of cheery correspondence as of late.
I spent 40 minutes walking around in the unseasonably cool sunshine. New York City currently feels more like Boston in September than New York in August, but I’m not complaining. It’s easier to breathe this summer, to walk, to enjoy the fresh air and, by extension, enjoy just watching everything unfolding. Without a phone and the distraction of texts, I took time to look at buildings, people, parks. I spied at least one or two things of which I would have normally taken a picture and texted, and I had to stop to remember this was not possible. Then it hit me – we show people everything. We don’t tell them. It’s easier to take and share a funny picture than call someone up or write an email. Language is abbreviated and often lost in favor of instantaneous communication. It’s nice to feel more connected to people, but it made me wonder what the future of conversation will be.
As anticipated, there were no crises, calls to work looking for me, and the planet did not shift on its axis because I was sans digital device.
And as anticipated, there was a missed call on my phone and two messages, which were more cheery than an empty mailbox, again.
And as anticipated, I felt a little more observant and connected to the day…even though another Vespa picture would have really boosted my campaign #vespasofnewyork. But without it, without a few more digital bits of data clogging up someone else’s Instagram stream, did it really matter? DId anyone actually care?