When I was growing up, we didn’t have cell phones. We didn’t have email. What we did have, located in the smack center of our house on the kitchen wall (adorned with 1970’s fern wallpaper), was a regular home telephone.
It was yellowy-beige with a ten-foot-cord that could be stretched precariously around the corner when privacy dictated. But there really isn’t any privacy in the center of a kitchen. Every time my dad came in to make popcorn, he’d just wave and say “tell [random boy I was talking to] hello! Are you coming in the family room to watch Hunt for Red October?” Then he’d just grunt and pour himself a soda and I’d be left in utter humiliation. Then, after I thought the coast was clear, I’d spot my mother doing something very important like ironing linens or peeling grapes next to the door so she could listen in.
Kids now-a-days have it so easy. Televisions in every room. Cell phones on every belt. Email and chatting and texting and instant messaging– the amount of unbridled privacy is endless. It scares me to think what my daughter might be saying someday in the free, bare silence of modern technology. I can’t snoop around the corner and then just say “What? I was just coming in to get a drink!” if I got busted. I think I’ll force our family go back to the days of old, where the father sits around each night reading the bible and we all stitch our own dresses out of flour sacks.
It’s amazing how dependant we are on technology. I’m one to talk. My commute home involves about twenty minutes of cell phone chatter with two minutes of checking my lipstick. So the other day, when I forgot my phone at home, it was torture. Torture, I tell you! What the heck was I supposed to do on the drive home– listen to the radio? The thought of it brought back vague memories of youth. Days when I made mix tapes and hoped to push the stop button before the DJ broke in and ruined the song’s ending. In my extreme boredom, I started surfing through the channels.
I tried NPR, but they talking politics. I looked ahead at the string of red taillights and realized there was a wreck on the highway. Great. I couldn’t call home to tell the babysitter I would be late, and there was no way I could stop. I felt trapped and isolated. All I had to keep me company was top-forty radio, spiked with loud advertisements about luxury cars, a Joss Stone CD with a scratch, and boring economy talk. My hands began to shake and I felt sweat forming on my brow. I was unsure if I could make it.
Relax, I tried to tell myself. Think. Pray. Flex your abdominal muscles or make a mental grocery list. But after about three minutes, I checked all of these items off the list and was instead punching the radio buttons in a futile belief that something interesting would blare through the speakers. I was looking at half an hour more. I looked the car next to me and saw the driver laughing away while talking on his blue tooth. I thought I might need a Zanax.
After being on the road for forty-five minutes with no cell phone and finally landing safely at home, I had an epiphany. I need technology rehab. I’m an embarrassment. I can’t go less than an hour without Tivo, iTunes, cell phones, or texting? What has become of me?
Maybe it would be nice for the family to have only one phone with a ridiculously long cord. And how wonderful to enjoy the radio again, singing along with the window down —
Hold on a sec. My cell phone is ringing. I need to tell my best friend who got fired on Project Runway. She was in a meeting and her cell phone was out of juice (she forgot her car charger – again!) and she just got home to find her Tivo was set to record a movie and she didn’t catch the show and I didn’t answer her text because I was in the middle of sending my husband a picture of our empty milk carton as a subtle hint to go to the store. You understand.
Maybe someday, we’ll abandon all this junk and just sit around by the fire reading the bible and sewing. Or maybe, even better, there’s an app for that.