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Otter Summer 8.05-Tele-phony

Hard for anyone who’s life experience extends no further than the Beltway boundary to accept, but wide areas of these United States have no cell phone service. I’m not saying they don’t have cell towers in perfect sight-line sequences, it’s just that many of those cell towers don’t provide service unless one happens to subscribe to the particular company owning each tower. This results in technical absurdities. Here in rural South Dakota, my iPhone registers no signal while I’m standing a half block away from an apparently perfectly functional cell tower. My brother-in-law’s place has wireless internet service, but intermittent Verizon-accessible cell service. I’ve consequently been in the dark telephony-wise for two days.

Of course a promising business lead appeared just before I disappeared behind this cloud, and I have no idea whether it’s sprouted without me. Today, I’ll drive out to find higher ground and check accumulated messages. I’m not complaining, just noticing my instinctive reaction to disconnection. I feel exposed, a bit paranoid, as if life might be running ahead without me.

I’m no stranger to feeling disconnected. I might qualify as a master. As an aging introvert, I can feel separated in any crowded room. Concerts and ball games, any place swarming with people, seem to me the loneliest places on Earth. Yet, a few days unplugged from the telephone I rarely use leaves me feeling ginky.

Maybe I miss the implied possibilities connection provides. I could, at any time, just call almost anyone, and this assurance mollifies the old spiders in my head.

In the other, more thoughtful side of my head, I fear that connectivity has occupied the territory reserved for necessities when it used to seem perfectly satisfied hanging out with mere possibilities. Nobody pulls off the road to find a phone booth anymore, as if that call needed a bit of public privacy and also as if that connection was worth disrupting the flow to make. Now, even I seem to expect to be able to connect without disconnecting with any of the other distractions I used to be able to at least occasionally set aside.

My electronics might well be capable of processing multiple simultaneous channels of information, but I suspect I am not, and never will be able to fully interface. Multi-tasking might be a myth made up by technologists who’s sole contribution to humankind doesn’t actually contribute anything to humankind.

Perhaps I should explain this respite from telephony as me pulling off to the side of some road to ditch my internal phone booth, an echo chamber usually reverberating with alluring distractions. Losing any presumed necessity should disturb because it holds the real potential to delight. Gorged on touch, isolation promises some surprising satisfaction.

I suspect I’ll be quickly subsumed back into the telephony flow once I leave these sweet late Spring prairie mornings. The Muse pulled me to the window this morning to hear what her childhood sounded like, geese working the nearby lake included. What used to occur in phone booths we only sometimes entered now happens in isolation booths we rarely escape.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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