I forgot my phone today. Well, I didn’t forget my phone, I just forgot where I put it the day before, so I was reduced to searching frantically for it right before having to leave the house to take the kids to school and go to my work. I failed to find my phone.
It is a strange sensation, going about your day without a cell phone in your pocket. One almost has the sensation of being lost, or maybe I should emphasize the varied sensations that being lost brings on; one feels a floating fear of the unknown. This feeling of the unknown, of disconnectedness was persistent. As I drove my kids to school, I wondered what I would do if I were to get into an accident on the road. How would I call my wife! or (gasp!) an ambulance! or (horrors!) the police!!! The moment I arrived at work and sat down at my desk I worried how I would text message my wife. Maybe she would need me to go to the store to buy something she forgot about on her way home form work. What if it was the milk we needed for coffee in the morning? Did I forget today was a half-day of school for the kids? Should I pick them up?
I knew this was going to be a difficult day.
I suppose I should call my “phone” a “cell phone,” as that is what it is, rather than a land line with a near infinite coil of wire connecting me to a walled base. No. Now we have beams of microwaves spanning the globe, connecting us to one another though ever more powerful, inquisitive, pocket-sized rectangles of plastic and silicon. I was a holdout among my friends and acquaintances until the fall of 2003, when I purchased my first cell-phone. It was a one of the old-style Nokia phones of the era. I called it my “Soviet phone” because it was essentially a brick of plastic that you could drop off the top of a building without worrying it would break. Phones just didn’t break in those days. Screens didn’t crack, and I never worried about what I would do all day when I left the device behind in my apartment. After all, the only thing it did was make phone calls and send text messages, and I’m pretty sure I never sent a text message from it. That would have been the Motorola flip phone I replaced the Nokia with in 2006.
I didn’t send many text messages with that one either.
But in 2014, in the age of “smart phones”– in the age of apps and networked “wearables” that beam biorythmic data through our phones and on to unseen servers running arcane algorithms monitoring on our every muscle twitch, location and online purchase; affirming our daily routines through targeted advertising and pleasing tonal reminders of our step count–in this age, I was distracted, my mind in a bootloop that kept returning to the start-point of having lost my phone, trying to mentally retrace my steps from the day before, drifting back for a while to the work at hand, only to lurch back to the burning need to remember where my phone was. On a different level, deep within the bios of my “primitive” brain, I realized the disorientation I was feeling was a symptom of The Internet of Things.