My Sad Smartphone Saga

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Day 1, Saturday: Up at 0-dark-thirty to catch a plane to Minneapolis for the Meeting Professional International's World Education Congress. Not being a morning person, I grogged around, scrounging coffee and schlepping my stuff to my car. I pile in, turn on some wake-up music, and plug my trusty iPhone into the dashboard to top off the battery on the way to Logan airport. 

Skip to waiting in the Southwest line to board the plane, when I do one of those "pat every pocket" thing and realize in a blind panic that my iPhone is still plugged into my car, and it's way too late to go back and get it! Now I wish I hadn't forsworn Foursquare and Swarm, because I totally would have picked it up to check into the airport. Hmm, I hadn't thought about that very practical reason to keep checking on both your location and your smartphone! This is the first time we've been apart since we first met, and I was jonesing hard from the moment I realized we had parted ways.

While waiting for my connection at Midway outside Chicago, I was psyched to see they had free Wi-Fi so I can hook up my iPad and at least check e-mail and connect with my virtual world. Well, it was sort of free—they made me download the Amazon app before letting me get online, but so be it.

Once I got to WEC, I shared my sad story with everyone who would listen. Poor, poor, pitiful me! I almost bought a cheap burner phone and a SIM card, but decided I'd make this a test of character, 2014-first-world style, and see how it is to live without my iBrain for four days. Four days!

Day 2, Sunday: After trying in vain to Skype my dear spouse back home and only getting connections that sounded like we were calling from the Marianna Trench to the Great Barrier Reef, or maybe Mars, I gave him the hotel phone number and we talked old style. I cannot remember the last time I used a hotel phone for anything other than room service! So retro, I almost felt cool. Almost. 

I also tried to e-mail all the folks I had appointments with to let them know not to call or text the handy dandy number I gave them, and swore I would make my appointments on time no matter who I ran into on the way to our appointed meeting spots, since I had no real-time way to let them know if I was running late. OK, this is forcing me to follow what should be a best practice anyway.

Day 3, Monday: Felt like crying when tech expert James Spellos of Meeting U asked people to take out their smartphones to text answers to various surveys during a session on managing today's information firehose (excellent session, BTW). And I'm getting really tired of dragging out my iPad to check the meeting app for my schedule, updates, etc. I know it's trying its best, but the Wi-Fi is a bit spotty with all our thousands of folks whipping out multiple devices, so it can be a bit of a challenge. I have resorted to bagging a show daily to check against for scheduling—thanks for still doing that for my iPhone-less self, and a new friend whose Nokia phone isn't compatible with the app, MPI! And I'm not tweeting anywhere near what I usually do. It just doesn't seem right to tweet from my iPad for some reason, but I'm getting over it more and more as the meeting goes along. 

But I'm also really noticing just how all that smartphone usage is getting in the way of people talking to each other on breaks, with so many  parked, back to wall or huddled in nooks and crannies of the convention center hallways. Then again, had serious iPhone envy at the ease at which people can whip them out and snap photos of, say the puppies at the puppy-cuddling station (love the puppies!!).

Day 4, Tuesday: Maybe it's just because we'll be reunited tonight (at midnight, if my flights run on time, what a magical time that will be! Who can I call at midnight though?), or maybe being unhooked from my iPhone is actually not as bad as I thought, I'm starting to get used to it. A little. Sort of. With an iPad fallback.

So, how does the idea of four days sans smartphone make you feel? I've gotten lots of sympathy, empathy, and gasps, which feels very validating, but really, is this where we're at now? I have to admit, my iPhone addiction runs deeper than I'd thought.

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