by Eleanor Brown
I loved my old flip phone. I had an el-cheapo student deal, programmed with five telephone numbers on a $35 a month payment plan, and every time it rang, I was Mr. Spock, opening my communicator to talk to Mr. Scott, awaiting an update on when the newly acquired dilithium crystals would be in place and ready to rev.
Then I was gifted a snazzy smartphone and a new cell plan, with a new service provider, and I bid goodbye to my old workhorse and joined the 21st century. (Somehow, it oddly seemed a step back from the 23rd…)
When the relationship ended, so did the phone and the mondo data plan, and I realized how very, very tired I was. I had been available 24-7 to friends, and devoured the morning’s essential Globe and Mail news updates daily, in real time. But I also at the instant mercy of endless newsletters, subscription pleas, money grabs from (dubious) charities, spam, advertising…. Facebook was mesmerising, Twitter an endless stream of angry screaming, alternatingly hilarious and angering. Soooo tired.
I decided to take a break. I didn’t replace the phone.
Instead, I cultivated a new routine, committing to a wi-fi only tablet. It helped with my exercise: when I needed fresh air and email, I walked to a park to log into city-supplied free wi-fi. I walked to the municipal library, for the same. Or up to the nearby university campus.
One warm day I bought ice cream at a nearby shop, which also got me a wi-fi password that never, ever changed. I wandered over and briefly stood in their parking lot every time it rained. (The owners are the best neighbours anyone could ever want, giving new meaning to commitment to community service!)
It. Was. Fabulous. Truly, I was very happy.
Yet after three years, things started to change. Downloading email once a day was getting annoying. I was starting to feel out of touch. And then… somethingsomethingpandemic. Everything shut down. I could still rely on the free wi-fi, but… it wasn’t enough. All the bars and restos and bookstores and cinemas were closed.
Apparently, there are limits even for an isolationist like me. I needed to connect. This week I bought a high-end smartphone, and a limitless data plan. I’m checking the news at all hours – and enjoying it! I’m peering nearsightedly at the short films I’m streaming, and enjoying it! I’m messaging old friends at all hours, and enjoying it! I’m tracking memes, and enjoying it!
Ooooh! Queen Elizabeth, my monarch, has had her green-screen dress upgraded to wolves howling at the moon! Well ima post that on Facebook RIGHT NOW.
Eleanor Brown is a writer in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Message her for her new cell number!