No, no, no. This is not the post you’re expecting.
It’s not the post where your wonderful protagonist lost one of the ubiquitous accoutrements of modern technological society, briefly struggled with the loss, bravely faced it head-on, dove deep into the wondrous joys of pre-technological existence, and then danced off into purple fields with pink fluffy unicorns.
Nope. This is the post about how much it sucks.
I left home December 7. Had a million things in my hands and pockets. Needed to drop off my son at an early morning band practice. Made it out the door, drove away, and left my month-old iPhone 6S sitting lonely on the upstairs bathroom counter, by the sink.
I realized I was missing an almost essential piece of my brain when it was far too late and far too far to turn back, and so I suffered for a week.
Briefly, here’s what I missed:
- No music
I like some music at night; it’s on my phone.
- No camera
How often do you want to grab a quick pic? Several times a day.
- No maps
Where is Gotham Steakhouse? I don’t know.
- No books
I like to read a little before sleeping. Outta luck.
- No mirror
You just had focaccia and spinach for lunch. Are your teeth clean, or do you have a big chunk of leafy greens on your left incisor where all your colleagues can see it? A quick selfie might tell you, but not me.
- No transportation
Uber? What is Uber? I can’t call a car.
- No fun
I’m not a big gamer, but 3 minutes of fun is occasionally … fun. Not this week, though.
- No memory
Siri does have her uses, and telling her to remind me of stuff is one of them. Notes are occasionally helpful too, but now I have to use paper (?!?) and pen.
- No big brain
Google might know everything, but that’s no help if I can’t access it. This week I was stupid.
- No reality bubble
Shockingly, the newspaper is full of stuff that someone else cares about. My Flipboard is full of stuff that I care about. I’m OK with exiting the reality bubble occasionally, but for a week at a time?
- No social
On the desktop, you have to go to social … it doesn’t come to you. On mobile, a regular succession of messages remind you that you’re connected to people you know and love.
- No dinner diversion
When traveling for business, you’re going to be eating alone sometimes. What do you do while eating your food, read the paper like a psycho?
The interesting thing about modern mobile technology is that people can be alone together, and together alone. You’ve seen alone together: It’s the three teen girls who are together, but each on her phone, doing her own thing 70 percent of the time. And you’ve been together alone: You’re by yourself somewhere, but you’re texting or messaging or Facetiming a loved one.
Without my phone, I wasn’t alone together or together alone. I was just plain old alone.
How’d I survive?
My laptop became my lifeline.
Actually going to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn many times a day — to stay in touch with friends and family, sure, but also colleagues and business connections. Using hangouts, HipChat, BlueJeans, and other communication protocols on my “desktop” machine. Taking physical notes on directions from Google Maps, and carrying them with me when I went places.
And yeah, I’m not proud of it, but I did use my laptop sideways on the bed in the early morning, head on pillow, to catch up with events back home via Facebook.
(Which beats the time I was in Cairo and, having run up a $550 international phone bill, walked around the Marriott holding my laptop up to my ear like a giant clamshell flip phone using Skype, before Skype was available on mobile phones.)
In the end, of course, I’ll survive living without my phone for a week. Probably. I leave for home today.
But I suspect I won’t be happy about it.