As a middle-aged woman, I don’t really think of myself as “old.” There are moments when I feel my age and think the nursing home is just around the corner, but that’s mostly when I forget what I’m talking about in mid-sentence, or I’m being pulled along by a big shelter dog and find myself telling the dog to remember that there is an old lady on my end of the leash. But mostly, I don’t think of myself as being old yet, and I don’t want other people to think I’m old, either. Which is why I make an effort to keep certain opinions to myself.
I know one of the quickest ways to sound old is to talk about how much better things used to be. Phrases like “kids today just don’t understand…” or “we never had that when I was young, and we got along just fine without it” are usually uttered by actual senior citizens. And I don’t mean that as a criticism. The world has changed so quickly and dramatically that I understand why older people might prefer a time that is more familiar to them. Still, I don’t want to talk like an old person when I’m only fifty-seven.
So it’s hard for me to admit that I do sometimes long for “the good old days.” Especially when it comes to technology, and most especially when it comes to cell phones. Obviously, they are wonderful devices and I do like their ability to keep me connected to my friends and family (even those far away), to take and share photos almost instantly, to easily access the internet, and to summon help in an emergency. There’s a reason almost everyone has a cell phone.
But that doesn’t mean I want to look in my rearview mirror and see the driver behind me is looking down at his phone rather than at the road ahead of him. Or that I want to hear the loud, boring conversation of the person next to me in the check out line. Or that I enjoy traveling with a friend who is busy scrolling through her cell phone rather than talking to the other people in the car. And there is nothing so creepy as sitting in a roomful of people who are all ignoring each other as they stare intently at their cell phones, their faces slightly illuminated from the reflection of their screens.
I admit that I’ve pulled my cell phone out in the middle of a restaurant dinner with my husband, just to make sure I haven’t missed an important text or email, and I can only imagine how special that makes him feel. Although I’ve never done it, (and never will do it) I have been tempted to check my phone when I’m stopped at a red light and hear the little “ding” that indicates a new text.
It seems to me that my cell phone, handy as it is, is also robbing me of the ability to just live in the moment and simply deal with what and who is right in front of me. I may be with a person who is special to me, but I’ve just got to answer that text or check for that important email, right? Sure I do…. I’ve come to realize that I have a love/hate relationship with my phone. I love what it can do for me, but I sometimes hate what it does to me.
So at the risk of sounding old, I admit that there are times when I think, “we didn’t have cell phones when I was young, and we got along just fine without them!” Even so, I doubt I’ll be trading my cell phone in for an old-fashioned rotary phone anytime soon.