Yesterday, Michael and I talked about how four years ago things were different because he did not have an iPhone. Now, as I explained to him, he says good morning and good night to it before he does me. He can check his work calendar from it, and he likes to know when meetings have been moved around. Then, he thinks, why not check half a dozen useful websites while he's there.
The glowing iPhone light in the dark bedroom is part of my life now. So is the knowledge that at any moment, we can google whatever it is we don't know. The iPhone will lead us to salvation. Watch him who holds it above his head, hoping from a message from god, even and especially while in the desert.
And I know this isn't just us. And it's not just the iPhone. I have a Blackberry, and I, too, am subject to its siren call. Here we all are, sleeping with our phones in our bedrooms, waiting for a message.
I talked about pulling a novel plot from 1977 to 2010 and how strange it was to see how technology has changed almost every aspect of our interactions--but we don't have to go too far back to see how we've all changed. Both Michael and I have and are reading A Widow for One Year by John Irving, which came out in 1998. There is not one mention of a cell phone. No one has one. While Ruth is standing in the closet (a literal closet), hoping desperately to not be seen, she is not worried that her cell phone will ring. When characters are in need or ill or trying to get somewhere in a hurry, there is no cell phone message that makes things better or different. The internet isn't a presence. Computers are mentioned, but barely. All the writers in the book type or write by hand. The writers aren't waking up and blogging or going to their Facebook page to announce their recent glories. They aren't Twittering or bragging or making general announcements about their lives.
Change it up, pull it forward, and the plot would have to bend in the same ways that our lives are bending. I don't think we realize how low our lambada will go until something happens--i.e., we lose said technology.
Recently, my Blackberry decided to not like our house. It rings and text messages come through but my emails do not--or, sometimes, they all come through in a group of 20 around 2.30 am. At first, I was really upset by this malfunction, but then it was nice to read or work or watch TV without noticing that little red button telling me a message had come through. I have stopped--believe it or not--thinking about messages all the time.
I hope the signal is never fixed. I hope to stay partially back in, say, 1998, when my plot wasn't bent, back when my phone wasn't the last thing I say goodnight to.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org