Monday, March 24, 2014

Oops... Phone in Toilet

Have you ever dropped your cell phone in the toilet, only to hear that horrifying splash. Stunned, you grab it out of the water in a total panic that is similar to Nomophobia, or “No Mobile Phone Phobia.” If you have you’re part of a large statistic with 1 in 5 people having dropped it in the course of their cell phone owning history.

I have, and in some miraculous stroke of fate my phone survived. Once it dropped, I quickly grabbed it out, in utter disbelief. I was at Wisdom 2.0 in San Francisco, away from home, away from my 16 year old daughter. And, I was at a convention where I needed to be able to communicate with my convention buddy. Who was saving which seat? Where were we sitting? At what time were we meeting at Starbucks for coffee?I turned the phone off, blew it dry on low heat, and prayed for the best. When I turned it back on, I could text, but I couldn’t call, and the camera light wouldn’t turn off. At the end of the evening, I plugged it in to charge and hoped for the best. To my disbelief, it turned on the next morning, and it worked perfectly. I didn’t have to go to Verizon in San Francisco, use a coveted upgrade, and reprogram my phone. Phew.

Fast forward a month later during my digital diet, and on a Friday night I broke my commitment to leave my phone in the kitchen, and put it by my bed. When I woke up at 5:30 am Saturday morning, I saw the familiar blue Facebook notifications, and impulsively looked at my phone, even though I’d promised myself I wouldn’t.

On the screen were the first words of the text from my 21-year-old daughter posted at 4:48 am, 1:48 her time in California:

“hi mom i’m so sorry by my
phone feel into the toilet and it
won’t work, it is still on but
the screen won’t work at all so I
backed it up and turned it off

…but before you react, just
remember that you have done
this a couple of times and it’s
vital for me to have a phone.”

How could I react (and this is where the mindfulness piece comes in) after I’d dropped my own phone only a month earlier. The cost of a replacement; the internal reaction to her reactivity for stress is contagious, and my empathy for her frustration flew through my brain, but I took several deep breaths. I knew I had an upgrade she could use, and I completely understood her need for a phone. She did experience the panic and anxiety of nomophobia, but we realized Facebook has a very valuable purpose besides it’s general social media role. We were able to communicate via Facebook message, though she was worried that she didn’t have an alarm clock to make it to her appointment at the Apple store; she didn’t have her GPS available, and she had no way to communicate with me besides FB messaging on her computer. Add on top of that it is spring vacation, and all of her roommates are out of town. She was virtually alone without a phone, but not for long.

One of the perks of this late night was the manner in which our conversation moved from talk about the phone to talk about her life. What I realized is we have deeper “conversations” via text/written message than phone ones. The interesting this is that I find the same to be true with my younger 16 year old.  I began to think about the preference for text over phone call, and the research supports it. 63% of teens text every day as opposed to 39% who call on their cell phone.  In a recent article, “Texting on mobile phones has dethroned actual voice call when it comes to connecting.” I’m curious to see how we communicate with teens in the future, or if this is a phenomena specific to my relationship with my daughters.

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