~ “Kenneth that’s absurd, you can’t stop texting!”
I was sitting at coffee recently and an acquaintance of mine found out (through a friend) that I’ve cut down on how much I use text messaging.
“Why would you not want to text with people?” he asked
It’s difficult for me to pin down the exact origin of when I started to get tired of smart phones, but I think there were two phenomena that finally pushed me over the edge;
–) throughout the past couple years I suddenly started suffering from the phantom vibrate disease. This occurs when your phone is your pocket (or purse) and you think you “feel” or “hear” your phone, even though nobody is actually calling or texting you. This started to occur with such regularity, that at least a couple times a day I found myself checking to see if someone was texting or calling me, only to find myself staring at a blank screen.
Being someone who has always admired men like Gandhi and Jesus Christ and has done their utmost to follow in the footsteps of their disciplined life, I started wondering what they would think if they saw me and my smartphone and the bizarre relationship that had developed between the two us.
–) the second phenomena that started occurring was what I would describe as forced text messaging conversations. People would text at me instead of merely picking up the phone and calling. Text message conversations are very difficult for me to have, since I place a tremendous value on substance, context, and meaning. Since more than 90% of communication is not merely the words you use, text messaging conversations are a very poor way to dialogue.
I went to the phone store a couple weeks to asked them if I could purchase a phone that doesn’t have text messaging on it,
“Hey!!! Look, it’s the coffee shop dude!” said an employee behind the counter who I’d never seen before in my life.
“Uh, hello. You know me?”
“Of course we do! You’re the coffee shop dude, we all see you in coffee shops talking to people. I listened to an hour long conversation you had the other day” she said with a huge smile on her face
I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing.
“Oh….ok. Uh, I was wondering if I could purchase a cell phone that doesn’t receive text messages” I asked
“Sorry sir, nobody makes a phone that won’t receive text messages” the employee said
“You mean, if I want to have a phone I am being forced to receive text messages from people even if I don’t want to read them? ” I said
“Sorry, Mr. Coffee shop, that is the way it is, but may I ask why you don’t want text messaging?”
She looked like the Chesire Cat with a huge grin plastered to her face, but we ended up having a nice conversation. She kept me there an hour talking about how she had moved back to the Midwest from California because she had two daughters and she is a single mother,
“California was difficult to raise them without friends and family nearby. I really needed a stronger sense of community in my life” she said
While the employee was nice enough. Unfortunately, I left empty handed, and as I was walking out the door my pocket started vibrating. I grabbed my phone to see who was calling me, it was just a blank screen. Another phantom call….. <SIGH>
I think I’ll get another cup of coffee.
P.S. April 1st is the release date of my debut novel The Culture, it’s a dystopian story about technology, teenagers, and how the very fiber of our society is being changed by all of this technology. Stay tuned for more information.
Categories: Culture & Society