When I Lose Service I Lose My Mind
There is this absolutely dreadful thing that happens to me on an almost daily basis. I’m sure it happens to you too. I get a notification on my iPhone—Facebook, Twitter, email—and before I can examine it I lose service. What the fuck is this? I’m inordinately, unreasonably, almost grossly panic-stricken.
This should not be a big deal. I know I will have service again in like 20 minutes, tops. Still, even a minute is too long. I guess the idea of being excluded from my own social networks is too unbearable and perverts all reason—I need to know! Know what? Almost always it’s nothing. I’ve been mentioned in a tired inside joke. I’ve been tagged in a photo on Facebook. Not even a particularly exciting Facebook photo either. Like one from a birthday party a year ago that somebody just stumbled on—and if I’m being honest, they should have just been fucking punctual and posted a year ago.
Is there anything more indicative of my technology addiction? Or maybe more accurately, is there any better proof of the emerging idea that we all might actually be in love with our technology? When I miss a phone call from a friend I don’t rush fiendishly to call that person back. I imagine whatever they have to tell me can wait. Even if I invent an important scenario—one of stunning theater—I don’t freak out. I calmly, systematically, handle my affairs and when convenient return the call.
Alternatively, if someone I have a crush on—someone I’m in love with—calls me and I don’t notice until later, I lose my mind (really, temporary psychosis is the perfect description for my behavior). In a disturbing cacophony of birdlike shrieks I think, “How could I have missed that phone call. Fucking idiot! What if they don’t pick up when I call them back? Oh my God, it’s all ruined. Fuck my life. Murder. Suicide.” Et cetera, et cetera…
I experience this same bizarre, desperate outburst of emotion when I feel vibrating in my pocket and hear the ding, bloom, swoosh, choo choo, calypso, spell (Sherwood Forest?) on my iPhone. I passionately thrust my hand into my pocket, pull the phone out, and slide my finger to unlock. The little bubble says, “_______tagged you in a post.” “_______commented on your wall.” Or, “_______responded to one of your tweets.” The second I push on the Facebook or Twitter app my phone stalls and I’m struck with the endlessly rotating circle of monotonous dread in the middle of my screen and the infinitesimally small last bar of service at the left hand corner that really means no service at all.
“How can this be possible?” I want to scream. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, instantly the only thing that matters is finding cell phone service. I’m atrociously indignant of anything and anybody that stands in my way. “What do you mean, dessert? Are you crazy? Who gets dessert anymore? We must get out of this restaurant!” Or, “What kind of apartment in this anyway? Who cares if it’s rent controlled?”
This is an exaggeration. My responses are never so literal. But still, when I try to examine myself after losing service like this, it’s never pretty. Even with the new iPhone software that automatically displays content, I’m tormented by my inability to respond or the inadequacy of my response when I do.
When the bar rises and the circle disappears and my notification is displayed clear, I’m nearly always disappointed by whatever I had been blindly pining over. But regardless, the initial robbery causes an anxiety that cannot be soothed by anything but the eventual, shabby and always hopeless return.
Follow Kyle Kouri on Twitter @KyleKouri
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