First of all, I must apologize for the terrible pun in the title. I couldn’t stop myself.
I woke up Wednesday morning in a panic. On my bedside table I saw my cell phone unattached to its charger. I had neglected to plug it in overnight. As I furiously tried to will a charge into being, I saw that I was going to miss my bus if I didn’t leave soon. I shoved my lifeless phone into my pocket, more out of habit than anything else, and headed out the door.
The whole time I was at school that day I walked around worrying with a newfound sense of self-importance. The thought that kept running through my head was “What if somebody needs me?” In my mind, this was the voicemail waiting for me when I got home:
“Hello, Jeff. It’s Barack. Still had your number from the 2008 mailing list so I figured I’d give you a call. Was really hoping you could help me with some last minute preparations for tonight’s debate. Uh, give me a call when you get this. Thanks.”
Obviously that is ridiculous, but having no way to communicate with anyone gave me this feeling of importance that EVERYONE needed to speak with me that day. Because I became so used to being interconnected with everyone else, the fact that I wasn’t for a brief period of time was almost like a bit of culture shock.
Here’s what I probably would have used my phone for that day while I was at school: Meticulously checking Twitter for news about injury reports for my fantasy team, texting Chase for a second opinion on whether I, as an unathletic white guy, could pull off a “Ball So Hard University” hoodie (Don’t worry, we ended up exchanging Facebook messages on the subject. Signs point to yes!), frantically seeing what time it was, and texting various people about various non-urgent things.
Truth is, I was at work for most of the day where I don’t get cell reception anyway. The mere fact that I couldn’t call anyone if I wanted to made me feel like a much more necessary cog in the universal machine. The interconnected nature of our world is incredible, but when we take that away, it tends to inflate our own self worth because we know people absolutely need to be able to get a hold of us at all hours.
And for those of you wondering, when I finally plugged my phone in, nothing was waiting for me.