Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Apocalypse: How the iPhone Jacks Up My Life

I know how the world is going to end.

December 21, 2012. Whatever.

There is no meteor heading towards Earth.

Global Warming is making a good play, but humanity will beat it.

No Four Horsemen, sorry.

Apple it going to bring about the end of the world via the iPhone.

If you've read my post "For Pragmatic Reasons . . ." you've seen how the iPhone screwed up my morning routine (if you haven't read it, please do so) but now it's screwed up my life.

Yes, my life.

In March I had my purse stolen while in Las Vegas. The thief got everything: my driver's license, all my credit cards, my SSN, about $300 in cash, and my iPhone.

Driver's license: replaceable.

Credit Cards: call and cancel (using my sister's iPhone)

SSN: go through credit card reporting companies to lock and monitor the use of it.

$300: prostitute myself (BTW, the security guard in Vegas told me that the dude who stole my purse will probably sell my ID to a prostitute).

iPhone: I'm fucked. I had just gotten it, so I wasn't eligible to replace it at a discounted price. And I didn't have the $600 to replace it.

Until I figured out how to solve this problem (should I just buy a cheaper phone that's not "smart" or really, really prostitute myself?) I was completely cut off from the world except when I could sit in front of my computer at home or at work. I was in a panic: Prince Charming would find me via the dating websites I'm taking up space on and would lose interest if I didn't respond immediately; a friend would post a life-changing event on FaceBook and I would miss it and then they'd hate me; someone's life would implode and I wouldn't be reachable; I would actually have to do something else with my hands . . .

After about a week, I realized that I don't need a stinking smart phone. Hell, I don't need a cell phone. I was getting along just fine without one, thank you. I actually kept both eyes on the road while driving. I could shop without constantly pausing to check my phone when it bleeped.  I didn't have to waste my time responding to bullshit posts, texts, emails. My morning routine returned to normal (again, see "Pragmatic" post); I didn't lose time wandering around my apartment looking for my phone. I could be fully in the moment, every moment, all senses engaged.

I had found Nirvana.

Then I'd go on FaceBook and see frantic messages from friends wondering where I was . . . and I don't even post that much. Internally, I mocked their dependence on technology, their need for instant gratification, their belief that if you aren't posting, you aren't living.

Without technology, I was living!

But then my BFF gave me her first generation iPhone, because I needed to at least have a way to call people. So, I went to AT&T, got my information transferred to the phone fully confident that I was a changed person.

Ya . . . I'm pretty.

Last week, I along with a couple colleagues attended David Sedaris' event at Royce Hall at UCLA. Between work and the event, I had plenty of time to go home, relax, change my clothes, freshen up, and make myself a healthy dinner before trucking out to LA. I was almost home when I realized that I had left my iPhone in my classroom.

I live about 40 minutes from work. My work is about an hour and some change from UCLA.

I pulled over and debated.

I could just go home, go to the event, get the phone in the morning.  I would not die without a phone for 24-hours. I had gone a week before.

But, what if I am late to the event and can't contact my colleagues? They might worry, call the police, call SWAT, call the national guard! What if my car broke down? What if I got in an accident? My alarm was in my phone, what if I didn't wake up in the morning? What if I was late to work!

What if Prince Charming found me on those dating websites, emailed me, and then closed the match when I didn't respond in time--CLOSING MY LAST CHANCE AT LOVE AND HAPPINESS IN THIS LIFETIME!!!

And what if that agent showed interest and wanted a manuscript--stat? What if I couldn't get back to them until the morning? They would email every agent on the planet and tell them to ignore all my queries because I'm a flake!

As a teenager, when there were no cell phones, I hung out with drug dealers, drove like an asshole, engaged in illegal substances and I managed to survive. But, unlike today's teens, my debauchery is not in cyberspace forever (well, the debauchery from my teenage years).

Nevertheless, I turned around and drove back to my classroom. I decided that I would just sit there (for nearly two hours) until I needed to leave for the reading. At that point, it would be ludicrous to drive home again and then out to LA. There was always grading to do.

I found my phone where I had left it: plugged into my LCD projector. I had received no emails, no texts, no phone calls.

I didn't get any grading done.

I arrived to David Sedaris on time.

My car didn't break down.

I have a student teacher who teaches my first class in the morning, so if I had overslept it would have been no biggie.

No Prince Charming.

No agent.

But, I did manage to waste time and gas: neither of which I have in abundance.

What is that aphorism? Don't put all your eggs in one basket? Well, if you are anything like me, you've put your eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, OJ in the proverbial basket: the iPhone.

Nostradamus didn't know shit. I know how the world is going to end: A&E is going to call me at any minute (and I'll have my iPhone right next to me) to discuss doing a documentary.

One day, Apple will cut us off. Close down. Disappear.  We're going to wake up, reach for our iPhones (iPads, iLife, whatever) and find that we are staring at a black screen. No arrow to slide to the right. No passcode to enter.


And then, none of us will be able to eat (because we can't look up restaurants), to sleep (because we'll be worried about waking up on time), to work (or, we might actually work better if the damn phone hadn't broken everyone's ability to focus), to speak (because our only mode of conversation will be social networking), to write (by hand), anything. Shit, some of us won't be able to get out of bed!

Our complete inability to act, to look straight in front of us, to just "know" something without googling it, will paralyze us until we waste away into death.


  1. It's so true. I resisted even having a cell phone for so long. I didn't want people to be able to get a hold of me at all times. I wanted my privacy and space. Now, I go through those same worries: What if I get in an accident? What if I'm running late? Sometimes I just feel around in my purse to make sure my iPhone is safe. Ugh!

  2. That's why I don't have a cell phone!

  3. I can so -SO see your point. I remember getting off my butt to change the channel on the TV...standing outside while my dad shouted at me on which way to turn the antenna. I remember our first microwave oven (roughly the size of a volkswagon) and when the answering machine was a big deal. But alas, I'm giving away my age here.

    I'm very very good at ignoring phone calls. It does not perplex me to miss a call, an email and such. We have become an impatient society where everything is on demand.

    So I agree - it will be the end of us! GREAT POST!!!!

  4. I can feel your pain, but had to laugh when I read this - you've got such a dramatic way of writing ;) I just have a "normal" phone, and it's so tiring to check the internet I rarely do. Works for me, though I can see how easy it would be to get obsessed with a "smart" phone.



  5. This post is BRILLIANT! I laughed the whole way through. I think you should write a horror novel about how smart phones are becoming smarter than the people who own them. Brilliant, just brilliant!

  6. I wish I *WERE* your phone. Not to be creepy or anything, but being the center of and getting felt up by the Hollster all the livelong day?!?!

    Sign me up!

    Raaaaaaawr . . .


Please validate my existence.