Look at Me, I’m-a Shattered

Apple released iOS7 yesterday. I can only think of four reasons you might not have already heard that.

The Release of iOS7 Might Be News If…

… you just woke up from a coma.

… you’ve been hiding in a cave, off the grid, for four months.

… this is your first internet experience. (If that’s the case, I’m honored. It’s strange that you typed my blog’s URL into the address bar, but it’s also very mature of you. I spent most of 2000 typing curse words into that sucker just to see what happened.)

… your oddly-specific superpower is the ability to ignore all tech-related news.

For a lot of iPhone owners, including myself, it was the equivalent of a national holiday. I woke up full of joy, thrilled to be alive on that glorious day. The update was slated for 11am. Unfortunately, at 11am I was sitting in a corner behind a giant column.

Not for fun. That's just where my desk is.

Not for fun. That’s just where my desk is.

While the advantages of sitting there are myriad, one disadvantage is that the wifi signal is non-existent. (That, and if the office is ever in a lockdown situation, my desk is the designated pee corner.) It’s ok, Stephanie, I thought to myself. You can update your phone on your lunch break! You’ve waited weeks. What’s one more hour?

I skipped home for lunch, phone in hand. My merry whistling attracted an entourage of cartoon woodland creatures. I tipped my hat to an adorable elderly couple holding hands and slowly dying together. I gave a little kid ice cream money. I was happy. My phone was happy. Everything was so right.

And then… disaster.

At my front door, I pulled my keys from my pocket. In that same instant, my phone slipped from my hand. Was it jumping for joy? Did it suddenly get cold feet about the update? Was I distracted because I had to pee? I’ll never know. One second it was in my hand, the next it was face-down on the cement.

I knew what had happened before I picked it up. With a sinking feeling, I flipped it over and stared dully at the shattered screen. The phone still worked, but shards of glass fell out every time I touched it. The joyous walk home seemed distant. I had been so young. So naive. A darkness came over me.

I mean, what's the point anymore?

I mean, what’s the point anymore?

Instead of updating my phone, I spent the hour making a repair appointment for that evening. I obsessively checked the screen throughout the rest of the day. Every time I looked, a new fracture appeared on the surface. The worst of it was where I put my ear, an organ I generally avoid rubbing against shattered glass.

At the shop, I handed my phone gently to the repair guy. He frowned and said, “How did you…?” then trailed off when he  saw how distraught I was. “Let me look at this in the back,” he said. I nodded and watched worriedly as he left the waiting room.

As soon as he was gone, I do what I always do while I’m waiting for something– I reached into my pocket for my phone. First I panicked because it was missing, then laughed at myself for being an idiot. Then I panicked again because I realized I have no idea how to wait for something without a phone.

What Did People Do in Waiting Rooms Before 2007?

– What are you supposed to do with your hands? I wrung mine like an expectant father in a sitcom.

– Where do you put your eyes? Staring at the empty wall seemed creepy, so I read the fine print on a packet of screen protectors.

– What do you do if a stranger tries to talk to you? Panic? Leave yourself open for conversation? Luckily, I was alone, but what if I hadn’t been? Can you imagine?

– What if you need to tweet something? What do you do?

The man was only gone for 30 seconds. “Come on back in 40 minutes and it will be ready,” he said.

“Ok,” I said, relieved. “Great!”

When I walked out the door, I realized I didn’t know what time it was and wasn’t sure how to find out. How do sundials work? Are they still around? I was about to Google it when I remembered I couldn’t. I laughed and reached in my pocket to text a friend about what a goober I was being before remembering I couldn’t do that either. I counted seconds out loud until I was back in my car and could check the clock.

I’ve been watching The X-Files lately (I know), laughing a little when Scully uses her computer or Mulder whips out his cellphone– high tech for 1993. That evening, I felt like I was living in an X-File. There was no one outside on the street. Suddenly I felt completely isolated. I couldn’t reassure myself that everyone was home Instagram-ing their dinners. I couldn’t call 911 if I got into trouble. I couldn’t receive any adorable cat pictures. I was so alone, so cold and so scared. I was also feeling like the quintessential obnoxious Millennial, totally unmoored without my technological crutch.

There's an app for that.

There’s an app for that.

I want to end this by telling you that in those 40 minutes, I found my true, phone-less self hiding deep inside. I want to say that I’m turning my phone off for an hour every day to better connect with the world around me. I want to say those things, but I can’t because that’s not what happened.

Instead, I realized that my affinity for my phone is not a crutch at all. I can look up information in an instant or read a book on it. I can take pictures or video to share my experience and actively engage with others to better understand their experiences. I can get caught up at work, check in on my brothers, and even keep a record of my health with this thing. This is the future, and it’s full of amazing technology. Why would I reject that?

Exactly 40 minutes later, I left the repair shop with my fully-functioning phone and drove home to upgrade to iOS7.

It’s as beautiful as I dreamed.

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17 comments

  1. shreyapunj

    You’re so pretty!
    I have the HTC One X and my screen too gave away. No cracks no breaks just blankness.
    I could totally relate to your post!
    Made me laugh.
    Happy OS 7ening!

  2. Doyle Wren

    I’m not exactly old, but I’m not getting any younger. I spent all of ’97 trying to hit on “girls” in chat rooms on AOL. God, I hate myself for admitting that. But I can also remember a time when we didn’t have to carry all this tech with us.

    I honestly would not have a cell phone, if I didn’t work in the cellular industry. My job sort of required it, and now it’s ingratiated itself into my life. I no longer feel complete when I walk out the door to go to the neighbors and it’s not in its pocket.

    I understand your pain. Just not as acutely :)

  3. huntersamuelson

    I am a teenage girl with an iPhone, and always keep my hands busy by checking my social networks, but one day when I got grounded and had my phone taken away for a week, I really got to know a sweet girl that stood behind the mailbox to get on the same bus as me..I didn’t even know she waited for the bus with me until I put my phone away! She had aspergers and was really an angel- it made my day a little brighter just talking and getting to know this little girl. I unfortunately got back into the groove of texting/tweeting/facebooking and so on at the bus stop, but reading this post reminded me about all of the things i’m missing and what a great community I should acknowledge. I am going to put my phone away at eight and leave it on the counter every night. I feel like it’s turned me into an alien to the world and I need to re-familiarize myself with it!

  4. emisformaker

    I seem to be cellphone immune, despite owning one of the damnable things. I understand their uses, the convenience they represent, etc. When I finally gave in to the new-fangled cellular craze, I asked for the kind with no camera, and was politely told that such things no longer existed. I was subsequently offered a non-threatening flip phone, with a big clicky number pad, of the kind they might sell to the elderly or otherwise technophobic. When we changed providers, I had to change phones, so I upgraded to the kind with a full keyboard that slides out (since I’d discovered the joys of texting). My brother asked me if it was a smart phone, and my reply was, ‘Dunno. It’s quite clever.’
    I’ve also deleted my Facebook account, never had a Twitter, and only got Pinterest to follow my sister-in-law’s wedding ideas board. I frequently go into the wide world sans headphones, and am training myself to make friendly eye contact with total strangers. One day soon, they’ll surely break down my door and haul me off the the old-fogey home to shake my cane at passers-by and complain about popular music.

  5. Georgia's Bath Products

    Awesome post! My 4S died and I was without a phone for almost a week. You don’t realize how much of your life and routine involves it. I have all of my medical info on it, run business transactions on it, and keep my short attention span occupied. As my husband says, I’m glad I don’t have to run down to the telegraph station to keep my family and friends updated, too. ;) Look at the bright side – the servers couldn’t handle everyone trying to upgrade and it took some people a couple of days to get the DL, so you saved yourself the hassle of repeated viewings of that error message.

  6. battlewagon13

    I share your feelings – there are definitely times when I get annoyed by people on their phones, but for the most part they have become an indispensable part of our lives. That makes us BETTER, more information coming our way at our fingertips, better directions available to not get lost, and most importantly – the ability to play Candy Crush whenever i want!

  7. smdaniels4

    I have the habit of placing my phone between my legs while driving and forgetting about it. When I get out of my car, BOOM! My phone hits the ground. It’s definitely a scary moment for all touch screen phone users when they lift their cell phone off the ground to analyze it for cracks and scratches.

  8. Pingback: Hanging on the Telephone | Listful Thinking

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