Cell Phone Dependency

An interesting and frightening thing happened this weekend. My brother lost his cell phone. Or rather, my brother lost his cell phone, failed to show up at two or three places he said he was going to be, and no one heard from him for nearly three days.

As it turns out, it had fallen out of his pocket in someone else’s car and then had the battery die, so the other person was driving it around for a couple of days all unsuspecting. And he didn’t show up at his previously scheduled events because the Clinton campaign* called the restaurant where he works at the last minute to schedule a huge dinner, which he then got roped into working even though he was supposed to be off that day, and he couldn’t tell anyone because he didn’t have his phone.

But the whole thing was kind of scary, because it made me realize I have no other way to reach him. I sort of kind of have an email address for him, but I’m never sure if it’s the address he’s still using any more, because he’s not much of an emailer. (At least, not to his geeky sister.) Since he works at a restaurant, he doesn’t really have a “work phone,” (though my parents did go to the restaurant and leave him a physical note-style message when they got a call from the person who did have the phone.) I don’t know the phone numbers of any of his friends. Conversely, I suspect he doesn’t know my phone number without looking it up in his own phone. Hence, the loss of his cell phone pretty much meant that my brother fell off the face of the earth.

Mark and I recently had a short discussion about whether we want to have a landline phone in our new house once we move in, and since we both already pay to have cell phones, we decided a regular phone wasn’t necessary. Now, I kind of wonder. How many people do you know who would be completely unable to contact you if you either lost your phone or changed your email address without their knowledge? Technology of this type is making some interesting changes in our lives, I think. It makes us feel far more connected because so much of our communication is so nearly instantaneous now. But its loss also seems to cut us off all the more dramatically.


*My brother has to work a double shift today, so I’m somehow doubting that he’s going to remember to vote, but if he did remember, I suspect this incident would not make him inclined to vote for Hillary. I’ve heard uncomplimentary things about her campaign from staff at other restaurants, too, notably from her time in Iowa for the caucuses, so perhaps they should practice their new populism by showing more respect for the restaurant workers they frequently inconvenience.

-posted by Dana


5 Responses to Cell Phone Dependency

  1. TheGnat says:

    While I only have a cell phone, I also have 3 email addresses, two internet journals I don’t actually update much, AIM, i sit in an IRC channel, those who know my main ‘net identity know of at least three major manga sites they can get a hold of me at, and for locals, there are at least 3 people who live in my condo complex that I’m friends with, and about 5 stores around town who know me well enough to convey messages. If someone can’t get in touch with me, they aren’t trying hard enough. Sure, I don’t know anyone’s number off the top of my head, but I actually have more than one way to communicate with people.

    As for Hilary’s campaign, I don’t think they’ve paid my workplace for the shindig we catered. My boss will likely still vote for her if she’s the presidential candidate the Dems present, but that’s because in a workplace of 35 people, she employs only 5 men. In a *restaurant* business. That’s just *bizarre*.

  2. akdmyers says:

    I’ve always insisted that we have a landline and that at least one telephone on it not be cordless so there is always at least one phone that we can find and use in case of emergency. Ironically, our current landline service is so bad and goes out so frequently, that having a cellphone has become a necessity, both for the in-case-of-emergency factor and so that we can call the phone company and yell at them.

  3. Dana says:

    Hmmm. TheGnat comment about all the electronic ways of communication she uses brings up the interesting point that part of the reason my brother’s situation over the weekend was so shocking is that he isn’t a internet junky. He IMs (or at least he used to), and I know he has an email account that he checks, but he only does those things when he is willing to sit in front of a computer, which is rare, and not usually done at any time when I (or my parents) am (are) awake. His only means of constant and near-immediate connectivity is his phone, because he spends pretty much all of his time in motion. He can’t even be counted upon to always sleep in one place consistently, given how often he ends up “crashing” with people he was hanging out with when it got late. Maybe when he doesn’t have other people in the house who will take care of the dog for him that will change a little.

  4. Mary says:

    More and more of my friends and family are giving up their land lines. This isn’t a problem with friends, but now instead of memorizing one household number, I have to try to remember each person’s individual cell phone number. I find I can only memorize one per household so end up calling that person anyway to get in touch with the rest. I could program them all, but I know I’m not going to because 1. I don’t want to; 2. They change so frequently, especially with the kids. Even though you can keep your numbers, they tend to change them when they get new family plans as families reorganize.

  5. linguist in hiding says:

    Oh, yes. This was something to be worried about in the past. You will find out that land lines are a thing of the past and no one remembers phone numbers anymore. As I have found out land lines are much safer than mobile phones (but all this requires war or serious catastrophes) but in normal circumstances the old ways are a nuisance.

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