My phone and Walden Pond

OK, so I’m up in Detroit getting ready for the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open. It’s Sunday, and I’m telling Tracey I love her while I’m trying to fish. I hit a wave. The boat lurches. My phone jumps up in the air. I claw for it. There’s a small splash. I look down. All I can see is my smartphone drifting down through the water, toward darkness.

At first I didn’t care much. It’s just a phone. I can get another one quick enough. Then I did care. I wanted to communicate with people, but couldn’t. It was irritating. I’ve grown accustomed to being in touch when I want to be in touch. The darn thing is almost a part of my hand. Call it spoiled if you will.

But then, sometime Monday during the day, a funny thing happened. I began to realize I liked the quiet. True, I’m somewhat of a workaholic so I wondered (worried) about the office. And, of course, I missed talking to Tracey regularly. Still, it wasn’t all bad, not having the phone going off all the time, not having to listen for a reply to something I sent. I actually got so I liked it.

It’s fashionable to complain that we’re not as social as we once were. You know, that computers, smartphones and the cyber world in general have destroyed our ability to communicate and to interact. That might be true if you’re talking about face-to-face communication — talking — but, really, in my opinion all this high-tech stuff has made us more communicative. We call, e-mail and text whenever we want regardless of where we’re at or what we’re doing.

On some level, that’s good. I was out 20 miles from the ramp without a phone yesterday and the day before. I’ll admit it gave me a worried feeling. What would I do if I had motor trouble, got sick, saw someone else who was in serious trouble? I had no way to ask for help. Complain all you want about technology but it’s mighty handy in an emergency.

But not being in touch has real advantages, too. I found myself thinking more, reminiscing and using my thumbs less, except to keep my reel from backlashing. It was a kind of Walden moment. I relaxed for a while. Not two years like Thoreau did on Walden Pond, but long enough to know what it feels like and long enough to appreciate it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that technology goes both ways. It’s good sometimes but not so good at other times. I wish I could tell you that I now turn off my phone for long periods of time but I don’t. That’s not likely to happen in the future, either.

My new one arrived late yesterday. I immediately charged the battery, connected to the Internet and downloaded my messages. I’d like to tell you more about my two days without a phone. If I did that, however, I wouldn’t have time to put all my numbers into the new one.

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