I met my wife in the autumn of 1999.
That was also the year I bought my first cell phone.
It was a big Nokia the size of a candy bar on steroids, with a little flip cover that had two purposes: to cover the buttons so they wouldn’t be accidentally pushed, and to make me feel somehow cooler while talking on it.
It had an orange, backlit screen, with black, blocky numbers. It was heavy, so instead of carrying it in my pocket, I bought a holster and attached it to my belt. Oddly, this made me feel cooler as well.
When making calls within my network, it worked about half the time. When making calls while roaming…well, I didn’t make calls while roaming. I couldn’t afford the fees. In 1999, texting was unfathomable. Email on the phone seemed like a good idea, but impossible. I couldn’t imagine a smarter phone.
Social media wasn’t even a glint in our eye.
Next week, my wife and I will travel to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary, and I will be taking a very different kind of mobile phone with me. Now, it is difficult to imagine something I can’t do while on my phone. Except that’s not entirely true. There is one thing I can’t do while on my phone:
I can’t be present to the one I’m with.
I can’t be truly here.
I can’t be fully now.
So, in the next week, I’m going to try something new-but-old. I’m going to live as if it’s the year I met my wife. To approximate 1999, here are the rules for my tech use while I’m away:
- Voice calls only on my iPhone. Pretending to flip the phone open is optional.
- No use of Blue Tooth technology, so no talking while driving.
- All other electronic communication (e.g., emails and texts that I will treat as if they are emails) will have to occur while sitting at my laptop, which I will treat as a desktop computer.
- All web surfing happens at the desktop.
- No social media, and no blogging.
- No podcasts. FM and AM only.
- No iPad or tablets of any kind.
This means, in part, there will be no blog post next week. Perhaps though, instead of reading a new post, you’d like to experiment with this one? What if, for all or some part of a day, you joined me in the experiment? What if, for a little while, you decided to do the one thing your phone cannot do for you?
What if you decided to be fully present to the ones you’re with?
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