Apropos of Nothing: Cell Phone Forgotten
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett
Trapped in the car at a stoplight without a phone to distract you. The longest 90 seconds ever or a glint of true freedom? You decide.
I’m telling this story for two very good reasons. For one thing, it’s absolutely true. It really happened. For another, my therapist says I need to be more open and willing to share. So here I am, and there you are with this magazine in your hands. Who better to share the story with?
As has so often been reported in the press, I live on a palatial estate that I won in what can only be described as an all-night poker binge. It was my first time playing the game, so I have no idea how I won. But I did. And so, I moved my family, sight-unseen, into what turned out to be a rambling, ramshackle semi-mansion on grounds that were so overgrown that Tarzan himself would have been intimidated by the overgrowth, undergrowth, and exceptional collection of deadfall in my new backyard.
Truly, it was a sight.
Because I am incorrigibly cheap I’m clearing the land and repairing the house myself. This is not to say I’m particularly good at any of the tasks that have to be undertaken, but seriously, how bad can you screw up clearing a jungle? When the point is to cut things down and haul them away, you’re on solid ground even if you accidentally set the whole thing on fire.
But that’s another story for another day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you all about it in the future, assuming the gag order is lifted, of course.
Anyway, while working myself into a tizzy with a chainsaw, a series of ladders of varying heights, and a small tractor, I realized I was in need of several fairly specific tools of destruction. With multiple home improvement stores nearby, I grabbed my wallet and keys and headed out to pick up a handful of items that may or may not have included an axe, an industrial-sized fire ring, and a flamethrower.
That’s all I can say about that right now, for reasons I alluded to earlier.
In my rush to get on with my master plan for ultimate deforestation project I jumped into the car and drove down the road with everything I needed to accomplish my mission, except—and I only realized this when I got to a red light and was left with absolutely nothing to do and nobody to talk to for several seconds—I’d left my phone at home.
Imagine! I was out in the world without any means of communication or entertainment.
Obviously, my first impulse was to panic. I, like you, have rarely been out of the house without my phone since Steve Jobs turned our world upside down on June 11, 2007. Sure, you might have held out for a while. I tried. So many of us turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. But eventually we succumbed to the apparent convenience of being able to communicate with anyone we wished from anywhere we might be whenever we got the urge.
And that’s the problem. Our phones have transitioned from being convenient tools to a necessary crutch we can’t tear ourselves away from.
Every driver in every car at that red light was talking on their phone, or playing Candy Crush, or cruising through Facebook in an effort to distract themselves from suffering the inhuman boredom of 90 seconds of solitude. Everyone but me. Being deprived of a wireless tether that might connect me to the world at large, I was left to myself. I was forced to have thoughts. And to actually consider them. I had no pictures of cats to distract me. No inane conversations to participate in. Nothing. I was on my own and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to tell you, it was scary.
Then something amazing happened. I had a revelation. An epiphany, I tell you. I realized that I was completely free for the first time in years. Nobody knew exactly where I was. Nobody could track me down. Or call me, or text me, or message me for any reason. I was on my own and it was magical.
By the time I got to the next intersection, I felt as if I’d time traveled back to 1985, when I was young, thin, free, and had a full head of hair. The world was a blank canvas and so was I. Anything was possible. And so my mission was amended.
When I got home I retrieved my phone with glee, fired up that flamethrower, and went to town on the digital device that had trapped me into a miserable life of constant contact.
By the way, you shouldn’t put your phone right near the gas can you fill the lawnmower with. It’s a basic safety thing. Something about the possibility of sparks, I guess. You especially shouldn’t put it near the gas can if the gas can is in the garage.
You live, you learn. At least that’s what the judge said.