Modern Love

My husband does not own a cell phone. This is no Luddite, holier-than-thou holdout. He doesn’t need one, he insists, case closed.  He has a two-line phone for his business and only recently made a big technological leap, from an old-fashioned answering machine (the tape was beginning to crackle) to the state-of-the-art answering services provided by Verizon. Anyone wants to reach him when he’s out of the office doing errands, tough luck.  I forget something on the list of grocery items I gave him, too bad. He has nothing kind to say about drivers on their cell phones, except that they’re accidents waiting to happen.  The proof is in the telling, a woman who shot past him in her SUV, into the left-turn lane at an intersection, cell phone glued to her ear, a near-miss with an oncoming car. He bristles if a cell phone rings in a restaurant (I don’t like it myself). And yet . . .

My daughter and I switched to AT&T so she could get her first iPhone a few years ago, now we both have them. I couldn’t help myself. It’s that encroaching technology thing. Or do I mean enticing? My first cell phone was basic, no frills, family plans making two phones (almost) more economical than a single-user plan, especially with my daughter going off to college;  next came the picture phone (like, why not, even if I almost never used it?).  Texting took me some time to get a handle on. Then there was the simple question – do I really want to be that available 24/7? – which turned itself into a twisted logic, Mad Men doing what they do best: you need a cell phone, I’m told. Just in case.

Need? My husband smirks. We did just fine, maybe even better, before cell phones, thank you very much. He thinks my daughter calls too much. Only when she needs me, I explain. (Let me say it again, need.) It makes him edgy, the beep of a text message while we’re watching a TV show or movie.  When do we let go?

All of which places me smack in the middle of a modern-day love triangle. I love my tech-wary husband, he’s the one I live with. I love my tech-savvy daughter, so far and still so near.

My husband believes that cell phones will be the downfall of civilization. He is convinced that dependency on cell phones is going to backfire one day, turn us into a nation of nervous wrecks. Watching him use mine, when we’re in the car together and a friend of his (or our daughter) really really really needs (ha!) to talk to him, is always good for a laugh. He speaks loudly into it, as if it’s more toy than phone.

My daughter e-mails me a list of must-have apps for my iPhone, among them At Bat Lite (for dad, she says).

My husband says he can just as easily check baseball stats on his computer, no need to have them on-the-go.

My daughter e-mails me a link re: updates in ebook publishing. She consults with me via text messages re:  TV shows I should watch, fitness classes she is considering, dogs she thinks I should adopt, and calls me when the stresses of health maintenance, car maintenance, moving to a new apartment, and generally trying to make it on her own get a little overwhelming.  Also for some recipe and shopping advice.

We’re too dependent on gadgets, says my husband. Forget the GPS. Look to the sun for direction.


12 thoughts on “Modern Love

  1. Deborah, I’m so with you! I have an iPhone, too. I got one first, then I caved, and got one for my college aged daughter. We both love them, though mine is an older model so I can’t face talk with her. Am trying to hold out for the iPhone 5, but we’ll see how long I’ll hold out…

  2. My 20-year old son just said that he practices a day here and there of Net blackout, where he leaves his cell at his dorm and doesn’t go online. Sounds good. On the other hand, now that I’m gathering Internet friends and having fun guest-posting etc, I enjoy the Web more and more.

  3. I’m with your husband 😉 I don’t have (or want) a cell phone either.
    And my daughter is with yours; on cells we live and move and have our being.
    The world revolves around this remarkable technology, while I’m content living in the dark ages. Yes, content as a cat curled up in peace on a cushion. Just leave me be.
    And look to the sun for directions. Love this line.

  4. Funny post. So your husband and I have something in common, apart from you (no cell phone and a ‘look to the sun grasshopper’ approach to life).

    It was at the train station in Assisi one year, quite a few years ago, that I realized how cell phones would change everything. With my head in a cloud of Umbrian jazz and too much prosecco, and my high-heels sinking deeper and deeper into the subterranean ooze of the Jungian conference I was attending, I was somehow cognicent enough to notice my fellow conference attendees and I were the subject of intense scrutiny by a handsome, swarthy fellow in gold chains and a muscle shirt. He watched us closely, watched as one of our members flailed about with their fold-out map, watched another paying too much attention to their surroundings, just like tourists. At which point he sprung into action and approached us, asking, in an official sort of way despite the gold chains and muscle shirt, where we were going. If we needed help.

    ‘We go to Perugia’, the map-wielding woman shrilled in reply and the man just smiled his gold-toothed smile and in an oh-you-stupid-foreigners kind of way promised we were on the right platform for Perugia. His interest didn’t wane though, for he watched us until we boarded the train for Perugia, at which point I was a little suspicious and started watching him. He’d taken up his cell phone and was shouting into it, intent on *describing* us to the person on the other end. How did I know this? This being Italy and Italians being so demonstrative with their hands, I watched the gold-chained, muscle-shirted watcher toss his hands and arms about to show-off the long hair of one of our group, the long-peaked ball cap of another, the 3 heavy bags another carried, even the location of the American man’s wallet in the back right-hand pocket of his shorts.

    And so we got off the train in Perugia to transfer to another train and at that platform I stepped away from the crowd and watched a young gypsy girl on a cell phone watching us, counting us up, frowning, looking around and finally seeing me standing apart from the group, nodding yes yes yes. And so as we boarded the second train, the girl crept into line in front of me, behind the American with his show-off wallet and tried to steal it. I had expected this and started yelling at which point the girl put on a bewildered look and started crying, then got down from the train and started running.

    Pickpocketing will never be the same…

  5. Oh yes, I too see my husband in that portrait you painted so well. However, there has been a change of late. We convinced him to get an iphone and then through his work he got an ipad. I kind of miss his pre-techno days.

    I do love my technology, but I am very aware (especially as mother of three, two of them teenagers) how it is changing the way we life, radically.

    Great post!

  6. My husband has a basic cell phone, but otherwise, he doesn’t use it, whereas I am joined at the hip to my I-phone. How to balance? And yet I am so moved by how connected you are to your daughter through all of this technology. I hope that I’ll be as connected to mine when they are older!

  7. It’s an interesting dilemma, technology and our 24/7 availability vs clear thinking, calm moments and simple pleasures. I often think we would be better off without cell phones…that is until I forget something at the grocery store or I’m running late to pick up my daughter, or when I want to snap a picture. Convenience, immediacy and connectedness often outweigh the negatives for me, but I also relate to your husband’s point of view.

  8. With a hubby who is a techie, I was doomed to have the latest greatest gadgets. I do draw the line at automatic toilet-roll dispensers, however. I also think it sad to see a family out to dinner, each with fingers, instead of mouths, moving.

  9. My husband is the opposite of yours, a “first adopter” type. I’ve been brought into using technology kicking and screaming. The only way to communicate with the two 20 somethings of my own is to text, Facemail, and occasionally actually hear a human voice via cell phone. That’s me sighing…

    The temptations to leave the present moment are legion, now I have even more.

  10. Hi Deborah…

    Great post. I’m a bit in the middle… although I do have to admit I got my first cordless landline phone in the past year… it scares me a bit… that in all this connectivity, there is isolation.
    Be well,

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