Occasionally you see these stories about people deciding to do without their smart phones for a day, or a week, or possibly 10 days, just to see if it can be done — or if their heads will indeed explode from sheer lack of connectedness, as seen in the 1981 movie Scanners.
As of today, I’ve been without my trusty iPhone for 11 days. Not by choice — I would never willingly abandon all that marketing e-mail from my friends at Land’s End and Jos. A. Banks — but because my iPhone simply quit working. I remember the moment clearly: I had just checked into a Motel 6, discovered the internet was not working, and decided to check my e-mail with the iPhone. That’s when it happened.
Now, a Motel 6 at midnight doesn’t do much for your mood anyway, but when you see that “connect to iTunes” screen and you have nothing to connect to — well, prepare yourself for a long, dark night of the soul.
When I got home, I did connect to iTunes. I was instructed to restore the phone. That didn’t work. Nothing worked. I’m ashamed to admit that I spent the next three days poring over obscure Internet forums for possible solutions, trying each one in turn and cursing Steve Jobs for each failure. I took it to the AT&T store; they smiled apologetically and told me it was Apple’s problem.
I probably should have gotten a different phone right away, but it’s taken this long to convince myself and the shamans at Apple that there could actually be something wrong with this magical device. After all, it’s been working OK for nearly 11 months now, not counting the small matter of the phone dropping each call made or received within my brick house. Surely the problem was something simple, and somehow related to my own lack of faith.
Anyway, long story longer: Apple has received the phone, and the service request page shows “product replacement pending.” So any day now, I expect to be restored to the world of the always available. I can’t wait.
But the point of this post is, what’s it like being unplugged from the ether for half the lifespan of a Mediterranean fruit fly? It’s like this: It’s no big deal. Only once did I really miss the damned phone, and that was at the Roanoke airport where I wished to inform my daughter where I’d be waiting for her. Fortunately, it was a small airport. The rest of the time, I found myself:
- checking my Facebook page a lot less often.
- posting a lot fewer blurry pics taken with the ridiculous iPhone camera.
- unaware of the latest developments in meaningless news.
- unable to check Zillow for the price of homes I will never buy.
- unable to check movie times for films I have no intention of seeing.
- unable to check weather that could be clearly observed in person.
- able to read a couple of full-length books without distraction.
If there’s an epiphany here, it might be that life without an iPhone goes on pretty much as life with one, except you burn fewer hours staring at the tiny screen. Then again, I’m not the most socially networked guy on the planet. I’m the Facebook guy who hides as many people as he friends, so your mileage may vary. But you should try it sometime.
And if you have an iPhone, you may one day get the chance. My other epiphany is that Apple products really aren’t so magical. They’re all just pieces of consumer hardware, mass produced by people who probably aren’t paid enough to afford one. Sorry to those of you who think each iPhone is handcrafted by Dumbledore himself. Fact is, iPhones freeze or fail often enough that the Internet is full of forums offering fixes and work-arounds. Trust me, I’ve been to most of them.