On Not Being Present

Be Aware, Listening and Engaged words on papers pinned to a bullBeing present means having your focus, your attention, and your thoughts and feelings all fixed on the task at hand or the person/people you’re with. Being present requires you to pay attention, to be actively listening to those with whom you are having a dialogue, and to be fully engaged with whatever you’re doing.

Yeah, so what, you ask? Well, I’ve noticed lately that I often am not present. Yes, I’m physically present, but I’m not always aware, listening, or engaged in what I am supposed to be doing.

Like right now while my wife is preparing tonight’s dinner and asked me to keep her company. But I’m not really present, not really paying attention to what she’s saying. What am I doing? I’m writing this post and periodically nodding my head and throwing in an occasional “uh huh” for good measure.

Fortunately, my wife is as bad as I am. She’s always on Twitter in order to get the most up-to-date tweets from others who are also constantly on Twitter. I typically have to say something to her two or three times before she’ll actually look up from her smartphone.

When watching TV, be it a drama, a comedy, or the news, I find myself focusing more on what’s on my iPhone’s screen — my news feed, text messages, the WordPress Reader, and even composing new posts — than on what is playing on the TV.

When my family and I are out to dinner, all four of us are looking at our smartphones more than we are interacting with one another. I do turn off my phone when I go to a movie, but it’s the last thing I look at before the movie starts and I turn it on as soon as the movie’s over to see if I missed anything.

I even look at my iPhone while walking the dog! And yes, while sitting on the toilet doing my bizness.

So I really need to start being more present than I’ve been recently. I need to fight this addiction before it takes over completely.

Just as soon as I check the latest baseball scores on my sports app.

Time to Panic

84ECF722-551E-4538-9059-E0A67DAF3E7B“What the hell’s the matter with you?” Clyde asked his daughter. “You’re acting like a maniac.”

“I’m frantic, Dad,” Lilith said. “I can’t find my iPhone.”

“Where did you leave it?” her father asked.

“If I knew that, Dad, I would be able to find it,” Lilith responded. “Duh!”

“When did you last use it?”

“When I was at Betsy’s last night. We were studying for the history test together.”

“Okay,” Clyde said. “Don’t panic.”

Lilith rolled her eyes. “Right, that’s easy for you to say. My whole life is on that phone.”

“Okay, calm down,” Clyde said. “Let me call your number.” He pulled out his own cellphone, an antique flip phone model, and dialed her number. “It’s ringing.”

But the sound of a ringing phone could not be heard anywhere near where they were standing. Lilith became even more frantic.

“Wait, someone answered,” her father said. “Hello? Can you tell me how you’re answering my daughter’s phone?” There was a slight pause and then Clyde said, “I see. Okay, thanks. I’ll let her know.”

“So?” Lilith said, impatiently.

“I thought you said you were studying for your history test at Betsy’s place last night,” Clyde said.

Now it was time for Lilith to panic.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “frantic.”

One-Liner Wednesday — Oops

2734403E-ED27-411D-B266-228B3FA96488“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder, president, and chairman of Digital Equipment Corporation (aka, DEC), said he didn’t believe that people would ever need to have computers in their homes.

This bit of extraordinarily misguided foresight may explain why Digital Equipment Corporation is a business enterprise that no longer exists.

21 years after Olsen’s misguided prognostication, Compaq Computer acquired Digital, parts of which were purchased by Intel. And then, in 2002, Compaq disappeared when it merged with Hewlett-Packard (HP).

E64A6B1A-F375-44AF-AA07-75C6EE360249In a similar example of company-killing CEO miscalculation, in 2003, Mike Lazardis, co-chief executive and co-chairman of Research In Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, said, “Cameraphones will be rejected by corporate users.”

At the time Lazardis said that, the BlackBerry was the first, most well-integrated, and most secure smartphone solution in the world. And within a few years the BlackBerry device owned the smartphone market, earning the nickname “Crackberry” because users — predominantly business people — became so addicted to them.

But everything changed in 2007 when Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the iPhone. Suddenly using a smartphone to take snapshots and to browse the web became smartphone requirements. And by 2012, the BlackBerry was barely a blip on the smartphone radar screen.

So much for the prescience of once powerful and well-respected tech CEOs Ken Olsen and Mike Lazardis.

Written for today’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt from Linda G Hill.


Not a Typical Monday

iPhone in the toiletEver had one of those Mondays? I don’t mean a typical Monday when you wake up with the realization that it’s Monday. I am talking about one of those Mondays, like the one I’m having today. It started when I woke up this morning.

As I always do as soon as I wake up, I turned on my iPhone. And, just as I also always do, I brought it with me into the bathroom. I placed the device on the wire shelving above the toilet, lifted up the toilet seat, removed my man-equipment from its hiding place, and proceeded to do what needed to be done.

Upon finishing, I tucked myself back in and noticed that the iPhone started to slip from the wire shelving above the toilet. Oh shit! And that’s when time began to move in slow motion.

My eyes widened as I saw it slowly become airborne. I tried to react as quickly as I could and reached out toward the falling device, but my timing and my aim were both a little off. The iPhone had just enough of a head start, and my reactions were just a touch too slow, to grab the device in mid-air.

And then I heard the sound of the splash when my iPhone plunged into the toilet bowl. Oh the horror!

My options were limited. I couldn’t flush the toilet because my iPhone could have been sucked down the toilet trap and into the city’s sewage system. So, despite my misgivings, I reached my hand down into the yellowish water and retrieved the iPhone.

I shook it a few times over the bathroom sink to try to get any liquid that may have gotten inside of it to drain out. Then I grabbed a towel and dried it as quickly as I could. Once dried, I put it aside and washed my hands.

I examined my iPhone, hoping that it was still in working order. The home screen still showed all of the icons and I could still navigate to view my email, check the web, open the weather app, and go pretty much anywhere I needed to go. Yup, it seemed that the phone, despite its plunge into the toilet bowl, was still working. Phew!

My next test was to see if the telephone aspect of the iPhone was still functioning. I was relieved when it worked as expected, although I admit that I didn’t put the phone right up next to my ear. I used the speakerphone.

But then a message starting appearing on my iPhone’s screen every few minutes. It read, “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone,” which was strange since there was no cable or accessory plugged into it. I turned the phone off and back on, but the message persisted. Uh oh. Something was amiss.

A few hours later, when my battery was down to about 50%, I inserted the charging cable into my iPhone. Good news! The device was, in fact, charging! And the error message disappeared.

So despite plunging into a urine-filled toilet bowl, my iPhone seems to be fine. I have decided, though, given that it was submerged, albeit ever so briefly, in a toilet bowl into which I had just peed, that the bathroom is going to be off-limits to my device from now on.

I sure hope the rest of my Monday is going to be more typical.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “typical.”

Smartphone Addiction

B5E1D281-9B9B-478F-86F8-A17E6C2E3A8BSo I read in the paper the other day that the average smartphone user typically touches his or her smartphone 2,617 times per day.

What? More than 2600 times a day? Assuming that the average person is awake 18 hours a day, that come to around 145 touches per waking hour. Or two-and-a-half touches a minute! Is that even possible? That’s crazy.

Well, maybe not. According to Pew Research, one-third of American smartphone owners describe their phones as “something they can’t imagine living without.” And I am one of them. I freely admit that I am addicted to my iPhone.

My cellphone additction started around 1997, when I got my first BlackBerry, the RIM 857.
2C18A088-02D8-4D26-8D6C-F74E0126E37FIt was a miracle device. I could make phone calls, compose, send, and receive emails. It had an address book, a calculator, an alarm clock. I didn’t go anywhere without my beloved BlackBerry.

It didn’t take long for BlackBerry devices to earn the nickname “Crackberry” because users — predominantly business people — became addicted to them. And that was before web browsers and cameras became standard issue on smartphones.

But everything changed in 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone. Suddenly using a smartphone to take snapshots and to browse the web became “the thing.”

DB7AFBB5-08CC-4E92-8880-2995320E8E21Fast forward a decade. Our smartphones have become an extension of ourselves. There are apps for just about any task imaginable. And many people don’t even talk on their smartphones anymore. They text, email, and post updates on Facebook or Snapchat, and photos on Instagram.

Smartphones accompany us in some of the most significant and intimate experiences of our lives. We take them with us when we go to the bathroom. We keep them near us while we sleep. They join us at meals, while watching TV or reading, in church, in our cars. Dare I say that they’re not far out of reach even when we’re having sex? We are rarely without them.

I have a laptop and an iPhone. Sometimes days go by when I don’t turn on my laptop, but my iPhone is never not by my side. It’s the last thing I look at before I go to sleep at night and the first thing I look at when I wake up in the morning.

I do all of my web serving on my iPhone. And all of blogging activity as well. That includes composing and posting, reading others bloggers’ posts, and commenting. I no longer have a digital camera. Rather, all of my photos are taken with my iPhone. In fact, when it gets right down to it, I could easily live without my laptop, but not without my iPhone.

So when it comes to the average number of smartphone touches at 2,617 times per day, I’m probably way above average.

What about you?