Sunday, February 21, 2010

goodbye telephone

Well, I can't say I ever thought I'd pull inspiration for a blog post from Lady Gaga's lyrics, but here I am. When I first heard Telephone on the radio, I turned it off almost immediately ("so annoying!"). But then, a few weeks later I was listening to the song with my sister on iTunes in an attempt to show her how annoying it was, and I actually found myself enjoying it. Now, admittedly, I turn it up when it comes on the radio. It's catchy, I admit. However (and you know this is coming, don't you) I have a small piece to chew about the lyrics.

The whole song is about a girl in a club who is getting really annoyed because her 'boy' won't stop calling her. Beyonce pairs with Lady G on this song and she sings quite forcibly at one point: " I shoulda left my phone at home, cuz this is a disaster! Callin' like a collector - sorry, I cannot answer!"  The main line in the song is "stop telephoning me."

You know, I don't really have sympathy for you, ladies. Okay okay, so you forgot to leave your phone at home. Boo hoo. Wah wah wah. But your phone still has a power button... you can still turn it off.

*shock and awe ripple through the crowds, young people everywhere are holding their breath, waiting for me to retract that statement*

Please do give the crowd my sincerest apology for ruffling their adorable feathers, but also do let them know that I meant what I said. Phones have off buttons. Off buttons on phones don't actually hold power over the spin of the universe or the gravitational pull of humans to earth or the ability of the sun to make light.

he missed a call.

In short, the world will not end if you turn your phone off. It also will not end if you don't answer a call right away.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn. I remember when I first got a cell phone just over 4 years ago I was permanently attached to it. Admittedly, I was so desperate to receive every call I got in the moment I got it (because I feared that the moon would fall from the sky if I didn't) that I had my phone on, and on me, all the time. It became so that I grew a tic (much like Teretz) where I would "check my phone" with alarming frequency; even if it was ON and on LOUD and BESIDE ME (and I therefore knew that nothing had happened in the last 5 minutes).

I started using my phone to check the time in the presence of clocks. Then text messaging became popular, and I got a new plan and I started texting more and before you know it I was communicating so frequently with everyone I knew and whenever someone wanted to get a hold of me I could be reached at any given time day or night even if it wasn't an emergency and even if I was really busy and didn't have time to take their call I would because my phone was on and beside me and that is just what you are supposed to do with cell phones!


I remember the first time I decided to turn my phone off overnight. It was a big step. I was so afraid that someone would die and that someone else would be trying to get a hold of me because that person was dying, and that I would miss it because my phone was off. But when I awoke the next morning, I discovered that I did not, in fact, have any phone messages or missed calls, and I discovered that everyone else I knew had - like me - been sleeping (not dying).

Near the beginning of my cell-addiction, I forgot to pay my phone bill. By "forgot" I clearly mean: did not pay. And by "did not pay", I most obviously mean: purposely avoided paying, for three months straight. Ouch. (It was a bad time for me, let's leave it at that). Long and short: my phone got turned off. For two months. At first I was devastated; I even cried. But after a week or two, I found that my breathing was lighter, I had more space in my head, and -shock of all shockers- the world kept on turning. I still had friends. I still knew how to communicate with others, and did so quite often; all without my phone.

in the olden days, telephones were attached to walls by a chord.
today, phones are attached by invisible chords - to their owners.

As I write this blog post it is Sunday, and I haven't looked (really looked) at my phone since Wednesday night. Save the odd text message (and one remarkably poignant and memorable call from dear Lavonne), I haven't looked at it. I don't know who called me on Thursday (sorry friend), I don't know who the missed alert was from yesterday. Because, quite frankly, I didn't look. I saw that there were missed alerts but that's as far as I took it.

...why? Why would anyone do this? What if this person had an important message? What if this person just wanted to talk? Or hang out? This person is a friend, and is therefore important, and therefore deserves my attention. Yes, that is true! I love my friends, and anyone who has my number was given that number by me, which meant that I expected them, at some point, to call me.

I suppose I felt the need to disengage myself from my phone this time because it was the easiest thing to shut off; the need to disengage from over-activity became a mandatory requirement for survival. While I am enjoying my schedule, I am working through an adjustment period with how full it is. As an example, I haven't spent any time at home in weeks (literally), and my brain has been just as active in pursuing outward stimulation - when I say I'm not at home, I mean that I'm not at home even when I am at home. This weekend was scheduled and full long before this month even began - and while I enjoyed it, my brain had reached capactiy. So, I reached back into the recesses of my mind to a time when I felt the most relief and clarity: those two months when I did not have a phone.

You know, maybe it's okay that people aren't able to get a hold of us exactly when they want to; maybe it's okay that I have to wait three days for you to call me back. The Human Race has survived incredible odds, and while it may be hard to imagine, there was actually a time in history where phones did not exist (!). Yet, suprisingly, we're still here. If our ancestors can make it through thousands and thousands and thousands of years without telecommunication... perhaps we could each survive a weekend?

***Disclaimer: to maintain musical integrity with the best of you, I will say that there are still parts of that song that don't meet my musical standards.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

I laughed out loud in my office at the guy lying on the ground who missed a was probably his future wife...who will never ever call again..ha ha ha!!

Awww Ashley, this reminds me I need an actual alarm, so that I dont use my phone anymore, does it count that I often forget and leave my work cell at home, ha ha ha....

Beat this level of being gotten a hold of, when I'm at work at my thursday care home, I have my work cell, my personal cell, the floor phone, and my managers phone plus the sick call phone, and if you cant reach me you can page me, or find me in person....lets say I can't even pee without being found!! ha ha ha! All those phone are clipped to my body while I work!!!

I love yah and your thoughts, your such an amazing writer, when I die you can write my ulogy ok, make it funny!! ha ha