Tuesday, May 14, 2013

No Phones Allowed


no cell phone 5-14-13  You ever have one of those moments when you realize you’re just not sure how you ever functioned without some seemingly indispensable piece of technology?  I mean, intellectually we can usually recognize that whatever we’re feeling so attached to is actually relatively new to the landscape, but we just seem so dependent.

  Well, I had one of those moments today about my cell phone.  As you can imagine, phones aren’t precisely encouraged in the classroom.  But, while every instructor has a rule about not using your phone in class, none of them (or at least, none of mine) really mind if you have it out on your desk just in case something important comes up.  You know the drill: just keep it on silent and leave the

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room if you actually have to take a call.  But, during exams, it’s a different story.  I suppose if phones were really only phones, even then it wouldn’t be much of a problem.  But since what they really are is tiny little computers capable of turning even the biggest slacker into an A student with the touch of a few simple search buttons, you can see why the instructors are a little more particular during the testing times. 

Anyway, this is finals week, so during my exam tonight, I had my phone tucked safely away in my pocket, knowing it was off limits.  But it was still powered on (on vibrate), so I could tell I was getting some text messages while I was testing.  Honestly though, I didn’t think too much about it.  It’s not unusual for the PTK gang to send out a group message and then blow up my phone as everyone starts chiming in to the conversation.  And I never received a phone call, so I didn’t figure it was anything too important. 

But, as soon as I left the classroom, I pulled out my phone to see what the chatter was all about and found that my husband had taken himself to the ER.  We’ve both been fighting this crud for the past week now, but he’s definitely worse than I am.  He went to the doctor yesterday and got some meds, but today his blood pressure was really high.  Now, it’s been running a little bit high for a while (and I haven’t been able to talk him into a doctor), but today was approaching dangerously high.  I checked his medication info sheets since he hadn’t bothered to read them, and found a list of possible side effects that all screamed “increased blood pressure”.  So, I had him call the doctor’s office and they told him to stop taking one of the pills.  Then I saw him briefly on my way out the door to school tonight, and he still wasn’t feeling too great, and was reporting yet another symptom—loss of hearing. 

Well, as the evening wore on, apparently the whole hearing thing got worse, and the BP didn’t get a whole lot better.  He called the doctor yet again, who told him nothing he was taking should be impacting his hearing, nor should his BP still be so high many hours after having taken his last dose of steroids.  They directed him to the ER, so off he went.

So, as it turns out, the hearing is just a really bad ear infection (though why they didn’t find that yesterday, I’ll never know), and they finally convinced him he needs to see a doctor for some actual management of his blood pressure, so it’s not all bad.  But the weird thing was the moment of panic I felt when I realized something at least mildly important had been going on and I wasn’t aware of it.  For a minute, I was trying to figure out if there was some sort of emergency number for the school I could give out or something.  I mean, what if this had been really important?  What then?

But then I realized, as I always do when these moments arise, that the world got along just fine for an incredibly long time without cell phones and the ability to be instantly and constantly connected.  For myself, I’ve only had a cell for about 16 years.  Now, in some ways, that’s a really long time, and you can see how a person can become dependent.  But it’s also not even quite a third of my lifetime, which means I’ve spent the vast majority of my life—even most of my adult life—without a cell phone.  And I survived.  It might be hard to imagine sometimes, but it’s true.  The younger generation might not be able to conceive of a world without such instant communication, but I certainly know it existed.  And, when these odd moments of panic arise now, I can take some comfort in knowing that I could live without such newfangled technology, should the need every really arise. (A confidence I’m not sure my son or others his age could muster.)  But, I’ll be honest:  I wouldn’t like it.  Maybe I need to devise some sort of code for my husband to use in cases of emergency, so I can recognize the important events just by the buzzing in my pocket.