I’ve made my phone my best friend. We are inseparable. My phone speaks to me and I always understand what it’s saying.
Oh, I don’t actually talk on the phone, have conversations, catch up on gossip, make business deals. It is impossible for me to talk on the phone. I can’t understand disembodied speech. In other words (as they say), if speech isn’t uttered by a person I can see, whose face and mouth are visible to me, I can’t understand a single word. Under perfect conditions, depending on the gender and tone of the voice, I can do somewhat okay. Not great, not even good, but often good enough to understand the speaker or to at least get the gist of what was said.
Which is why I love my phone. I love email and texting and Facebook. I love the written word on the little screen.
My phone is where a lot of my life is happening these days. What an odd, peculiar thing that is to say.
My phone is a little hand-held nest of chatting. Increasingly, it’s where my friends are. One of the things that happens with serious hearing impairment is that a person can become too difficult to talk to. I say this, not out of self-pity (although I have had periods where self-pity has been deep and swampy and endless) but because it is reality.
People lose patience with me. The first time I grossly misinterpret what they are saying, they stare at me, mute, not knowing how to tell me, “No Jan, not wild courses, we know you had a rough time in school, it’s wine courses, you know, wine pairings, what goes with what.” Oh.
Pay attention, Jan. PAY ATTENTION.
I don’t have to pay attention on my phone. I can just look at it. I never get anything wrong. Everything’s in black and white. People say texting damages relationships? It’s saved several of mine. Where other people worry about the misinterpretation of texts, the missing inflections that help people understand the sender’s intent, I love texts since a text carries a hundred percent less risk that I will misunderstand someone.
It has begun to worry me that I favor the companionship of my phone over most people. In a room buzzing with pre-meeting chatter and laughter, the camaraderie phase of people working together that is so necessary to good results, I trust my phone to be more important, more urgent, more intriguing, more deserving of my attention. Having the phone means I don’t have to sort out who is saying what to whom or piece together the punchline to a joke told five minutes ago. I just go away. I am there but I go away.
And thank God for the phone because otherwise I might just lose my lonely little, non-understanding, fucking mind.
When the meeting starts, people take turns talking. They look at me, enunciate, wait to see if I ‘got it.’ Then, my phone stays in my purse minding its own business, as essential in that moment as my lipstick and pack of gum. Not very.
Even though I know that my phone is saving me and that it’s okay to use whatever works to get myself from Point A to Point B professionally and even personally, I know it’s become too much. I can’t very well explain to the people I live with that communicating with the people in my phone is a lot easier than talking to them. I can’t say I prefer a stranger’s crisp words to their repeated many times explanation of why the sink still isn’t fixed.
Could you just text me?
So I’ve taken to leaving my phone home alone. Not really. That’s too extreme. I will, however, leave it upstairs while I’m in the kitchen, leave it in the car while taking a walk, put it someplace out of reach so my hand doesn’t get hungry for its smooth comfy feel. I miss my friend, I think. Oh, you’ll be fine, I answer.
Be tough. Face the world. PAY ATTENTION.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Breakdown.” Prompt was on the theme of a habit you would like to quit.