[From time to time I blog for The Exponet (http://the-exponent.com/). Here's the one I did last night.]
So I have issues with iPhones. My husband will tell you it’s because I’m a techno-phobic Luddite. Which is true–but isn’t why I resist getting on the iPhone/Blackberry bandwagon. Let me illustrate.
This spring some girlfriends and I went to NYC. One afternoon we are all on the boat to Ellis Island and Sande and I are having view-gasms at the sight of the Statue of Liberty. The Lady is just gorgeous. We turn to share our emotion with our companions…to find them texting away or reading Facebookor whatever, totally oblivious to the 150 ft goddess towering above us.
“Excuse me ladies,” I say, “but to quote a line from Barbie’s Princess and the Pauper, ‘Be present, be pleasant, and be proud.’” I clearly say it louder than I’d intended because on the next row of benches two men turn around and one asks me to repeat the quote as his boyfriend whips out his electronic gadget and types it in: “’Be present….be pleasant…be proud.’ Barbie you say? Jonathan, we need to remember that.”
The phrase, the first part at least, reflects a real struggle in my life. Frequently I am not where I am supposed to be. Physically I am at church, or a meeting, or the dinner table with my kids, but mentally I am elsewhere, often aided and abetted by an electronic device. While the kids chatter about their day I am straining to listen to “All Things Considered” on NPR. I’m ashamed to admit how often I talk on the phone to my girlfriends or sister when I have a real live child of mine near me who will never be exactly that age again.
My kids used to cringe when they saw me bring out my camera because they know I disappear behind the lens. I get so obsessed with capturing a moment that I cease to be part of it; with my camera I am a historian not a participant. It’s been a real challenge but over time I’ve learned that if I want to really remember an event, from the inside out, I have to leave my camera behind. So some family times that are most dear to me are never recorded. But I remember them in a way I couldn’t have if I hadn’t been truly present.
If I get this distracted by the radio, a camera, and a simple cell phone, I’m terrified what an iPhone would do to me. I’d be the person in a movie theater, missing half the show because I’d recognize a face and have to IMDB the actor to figure out where else I’d seen them. Many times while out to dinner with my husband, I’ll make him look something up for me on his phone—what is Ben Kingsley’s real name (Krishna Bhanji) ? Who was the prostitute in The Brother’s Karamozov(Grushenka)?
Last weekend was our stake conference. I attended the Saturday night session but didn’t hear much of it. I was too busy getting text messages from friends. I felt like I was in junior high again, passing notes, making jokes about the speaker, wondering where we should go eat after, explaining why we were late, etc. And as much as I hated myself for it, and even though it takes me forever to pluck out a message (I can’t even do that predictive thing), I could not stop. I could not be present. Or pleasant. I was not proud. The next day I left my phone in the car. The kids were distracting, and some of the talks were boring. But I was there, body and mind.
So I struggle. I’m a social creature. I want to share my thoughts instantaneously with my people. I want to be in the know. But I also want the people who are with me to know I am trying to be there for them, physically and emotionally. So I resist getting a frickin iPhone. I want to be present. Some people can do both. I can’t.