The other day, still in an early morning daze, I dashed out of the house to do a few errands. As soon as I got to my first destination I realized I had left my cell phone behind, recharging on the bedside table.
A minor glitch. No big deal, right? Well, no. It provoked a flood of mixed emotions. Worry about suffering a senior moment. Panic over how to manage without the portable accessory to my brain that carries essential communication and work tools: my contacts directory; cell call, text message, WhatsApp and Twitter capacity; the voice recorder, note pad and extra camera; the agenda, appointment reminder and timer; the calculator.
Behind a fleeting moment feeling an odd sort of liberation came a wave of ire and indignation. How did I let myself become so dependent upon this apparatus? After all, I survived my first years in Mexico without a land line. Now Telcel is my most constant and indispensible companion.
I then fell into deeper pondering on the power of modern gadgets that seem to enslave so much of society. Everywhere you go these days folks seem to be fixated on their devices. At restaurants and social events, at government meetings and high-tooting ceremonies, I notice people more focused on their cell phones than what is going on around them. While watching a dazzling Castillo fireworks display not long ago I found myself gazing over a sea of gizmos held in the air to capture videos and photos of the spectacle. Whatever happened to human interaction and just living the moment?
Other issues came to mind. The rampant consumerism that compels folks to constantly upgrade to the latest hot market item and to shop for fancy protective covers, portable chargers and other accouterments. The toxic waste all this stuff generates. Concern for infants induced to substitute inanimate objects for devoted hands-on parents and caring nursemaids. And self-loathing for my own ineptitude at mastering crucial 21st century skills.
I marvel at my daughter’s ability to multi-task as she catches the latest episode of House of Cards on a laptop, swipes through Facebook on the iPad and chats with pals on the cell, all at once.
It ticks me off that she can crank out messages at lightning speed, both thumbs flying over the tiny keys. It often takes me five minutes to pick out a couple of sentences with clumsy forefingers, only to discover that the words have been hopelessly garbled by autocorrect.
At the end of my brief, anxiety ridden cell-free interlude, I returned home to retrieve the little devil. It was a bit of a let-down to discover I hadn’t missed a single call or message. But that reaction quickly dissipated as burning desire arose to set off a new trend by firing off the hashtag chosen to title today’s reflections.