In the latest installment of “Love, Recorded,” phones stop working. Does life go on?
Cathreen comes home with a dead phone screen. Everything works, but she can’t see what is going on. If she remembers where the buttons are, she can make things happen in the dark. Otherwise, what is going on goes on without her.
This happened to my iPhone a few days ago. I dropped it on the sidewalk. Cathreen’s phone was simply working one minute and not working the next.
Now she is freaking out. A few days ago, I freaked out. I get it. Every time her phone beeps, it is like her life still works but she can’t live it.
Recently, we started phasing out the baby’s iPad time. We were noticing Grace’s attention span decreasing. When she was a littler baby, she used to be the one kid who paid attention to an entire reading at the library. She sat separate from the other kids, sure, but she stayed seated, eyes on the teacher’s every move.
And then we packed up all of her things and let Cross Country Movers send them from Boston to Houston. They were supposed to take 7-10 days. They took 23.
We had almost zero baby toys, baby books, baby arts and crafts, for over three weeks. What we had was the iPad. On the iPad, we had baby toys, baby books, baby arts and crafts galore—they just didn’t exist in real life.
Soon, we were giving the iPad to Grace to stop a tantrum, or when we needed a break, whenever we drove anywhere, whenever we had nothing for her to do, which was often.
Recently, we were signing my wife up at a gym, and we gave over the iPad so Grace wouldn’t run out of our sight. “A miracle worker,” the gym guy said, nodding.
You think that at first, I thought to myself. And then the screen goes on buzzing but the real world stops working for her.
After my phone screen died, I thought two things: (1) I have become a slave to my phone, and (2) I really really really need a new phone.
I didn’t know what I was supposed to do day-to-day, since I didn’t have my calendar. I didn’t have my pictures of Grace. So much of myself seemed to have disappeared. I had never thought about backing up my life.
When the Apple store gave me a new phone, I decided I would never switch brands. Because I never want to die.
The day after Cathreen’s screen goes black, we drive to the Samsung Experience, which is inside of a Best Buy. But it is only an “experience;” they can’t fix anything. They’re trained to talk about the “experience,” the man there explains to us.
Cathreen is losing her shit.
I try to call Samsung’s hotline with my iPhone while Cathreen holds the baby, who wants to run around amid the electronics and keeps pinching her mom’s face. When I hang up, my wife and baby are gone.
I want to call them, but my wife can’t answer her phone. I find them in the car, in the flesh, upset with the real world’s inferiority to technology. When we get home, Cathreen passes out from the stress.
She wakes up when it is time for Grace to go to sleep. Cathreen asks me to get Kakao Talk going on her iPad. Kakao Talk is the Korean Facebook+Twitter+Skype. It is mostly what she uses her phone for, anyway.
We are desperate for connection.
After two hours, I get her iPad Kakao Talk working by sacrificing the Kakao Talk on my phone. Only one device can be linked to one phone number. Technology has limitations. If there’s an ideal to this electronic mess, though, it’s connection, isn’t it? Reaching from one world to another? That I can still have friends without leaving the house, that there’s still something to pull people together though we’re miles apart, that the baby can learn without having multiple physical objects?
That I write this on the internet.
We want connection so badly we will give our humanity to machines. I remember a novel a friend was writing once about becoming “post-human,” trading the body for an online existence. I have always wanted to end an essay with, This is the way we live now. I will end this one with, this is the way we have a life now.
—photo flickr/NZ Craft Beer TV