I really do think people have compulsions with their smartphones. Wait–let’s just call them phones–sometimes I think they make people dumb rather than smart.
Just now, I checked my text messages. Why did I do that? Was it to procrastinate? No. It’s a nasty, no-good, compulsive habit that most of us have seemed to adopt.
I was having lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in fifteen years. My phone went off to signal someone sent me a text message, since everyone knows better not to call me because I can’t hear on the phone; you all sound like muffled automated voices.
Kate, my friend I was having lunch with, was talking about her recent divorce; she’s pretty upset about it. I didn’t want to miss what she was saying because it was important that I listen to her and provide her my wise and knowledgeable advice on how to scare the living crap out of your ex-husband in five easy steps.
“Crap. Let me just turn my phone off, Kate.”
“No problem.” (sniffling and downing a glass of Merlot like it was a shot of tequila).
Here came the tricky part; I couldn’t turn it off without looking to see who sent me a text.
Typically, when my son texts me, it’s about a problem he’s having with his landlord, he needs bail money, or he got into a car accident.
You think I’m joking?
But, here was Kate–her eyes filled with tears–telling me about what happened with her and Jim, and all I could think of was, what the hell went wrong with Matt now? At least he’s not dead; he sent me a text.
Kate asked me for my advice and I went blank. I gave her my standard ex-husband speech. “If he starts to stalk you, get a restraining order; it works every time. If that doesn’t work, learn how to take him down with a few self-defense moves. Or, you can take matters into your own hands; if he breaks into your house in a last-minute desperate attempt to get your attention, make sure you have a firearm’s license and shoot the bastard.”
Yes, I have an ex-husband. And, yes, I’ve managed to prepare and have had the wonderful opportunity to not enjoy these activities. The only thing that stopped him from harassing me was him having a very unfortunate accident which caused him to be otherwise occupied. He lost both his arms.
You think I’m joking? I would ask him if I could give him a hand with things, but that would just be cruel. However, years have passed along, and we actually get along pretty good now. He even laughs about his condition.
Anyway, where was I?
Obsessing over what the text was my son sent to me, made me excuse myself from the table to go to the ladies room. Sitting in the bathroom stall, I read his text which said, “I have an idea for an invention.”
My first thought? Jesus–Here we go again. My son has a lot of ideas for things, tells me about them and then asks me if there’s anything out there like it.
Apparently, my new name is Google–not mom, mommy or hag.
I tell him to Google it and research it. I went back to the table and finished my lunch date with a sobbing, messed up, you’ll-be-fine-in-seven-years Kate.
There are times when you have text conversations with someone where the conversation turns into an argument. The topic tends to swirl in circles to the point of throwing up, but I insist on having the last word.
Why? Because I’m a woman, But, sometimes my husband says, “Leave it alone. Don’t respond.”
Most of the time, he’s right. My blood pressure seems to diminish when I don’t respond to certain texts. It also saves me from getting angrier because of the damn auto-correct.
It’s technically called, “auto-correct,” but people always call it in an exasperating tone, “damn auto-correct!” At times, I fat-finger my typing so badly, I’ve taken to using the microphone which works pretty well. The only problem is that you need to speak slowly and actually say your punctuation (e.g. period, comma, exclamation point). When I’m really worked up, talking slowly is not my eloquent technique in getting my point across. Spitting angry words into my phone at the speed of a fiber-optic cable is more like it.
I can’t tell you how many times the word, “ducking” has been typed into my phone, when we all know damn well it should be the F bomb with “ing” after it. Why does my phone auto-correct this word? I use it way too often for it to be “smart” enough to not auto-correct what I’m truly feeling.
The other quandary I have with my phone is not something I use, but what others’ do: Emoji’s. Those cute or annoying little characters that people insert in their texts. There must be at least 500 of them out there–faces to show every emotion known to man, flowers, hearts, ice cream cones…do they have one with a picture of me stabbing an emoji?
Why is this happening? Has our phone become a pop-up picture book for texts? I understand the words–I don’t need 50 visuals to describe the words someone just typed.
I use my phone as a distraction while waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting in a doctor’s office, Starbucks line or anywhere where I don’t have to look at the back of the person in front of me with really bad dandruff and a huge, bulbous something-or-other popping out from under her skin on her left shoulder. Jesus–if you know something that unpleasant is there, do me a favor and don’t wear a tank top, okay?
Our phones have provided us with a welcoming or not-so-welcoming distraction depending on the situation you’re in at the moment you get that famous text that says, “I have an idea for an invention.”