31 March 2011

Im(mobile) Technology

Before I had a cell phone, or a mobile as I called it while living in England, I used to call home from pay phones while on long car rides. Halfway between my parents' house and Princeton there was a McDonald's where I pulled over more than once, using a prepaid calling card to place the call, justifying the fries I would order as being a form of payment for the use of the facilities since, as Annie put it, when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Now, without my cell phone in an easily accessible pocket, I find myself nervous about pulling out of the drive, almost as if traveling without the ability to summon EMS is akin to courting certain death. I am chastised by my husband if he finds me unreachable, pointing out that the daily cost of my cell plan is wasted money if I can't remember to charge my phone or keep it with me in order to eagerly receive his calls.

Bite me, is usually my very inelegant reply. Still, it gets across my point.

Until recently, when I was lucky enough to receive a work sponsored upgrade, I lagged enormously behind the available technologies. When I was in Liberia I was surprised by many things, not least of which was that everyone seemed to have nicer and newer cell phones than I. For more on Africa's cell phone revolution, consider perusing this piece in The New Yorker or this one in USA Today. Both make interesting points, none of which I'll linger on here, because my real point in writing this post is to point out how incredibly privileged and lazy I am.

We have a big house. It may be falling apart, but it is still rather large. While in our one bedroom/one baby closet condo we never had a baby monitor, but this was one of the first things we bought when we moved in. We had to. While I was outside planting the many fabulous bulbs soon to burst forth in all their glory in our front yard, Emmaline was napping. How else were we to hear when she awoke? And how else are we to call each other down to dinner, or find out where each of us is, than by calling each other not out loud but on each other's phones?

Earlier today my father got home from a visit to the barber. He probably wanted to show of his new hairdo and was disappointed not to find any of us waiting to tell him how fetching he looked. So he called me.

"Where are you guys?" he wanted to know.

"Upstairs in Em's room," I replied.

"All of you?" he asked, meaning Emmaline my mother and me.

"All of us," I confirmed.

There was a pause.

"Are you coming down soon?"

Emmaline was busy taking things out of her toy box and I was busy putting them back in again. So we were not making a move any time soon. I told my dad this. There was yet another pause.

"Okay, then," he said. "Bye."

"Bye," I echoed.

We hung up.

I love many things about my phone. I love that I can take pictures of Em and send them to Daryl while he is at work. I love that I can make videos of Em and do the same. But still, on the whole, I find many of the ways it has impacted my life more than a little ridiculous. But I am a ridiculous person, so I guess it sort of makes sense.

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