Hiking Log – I am Free
This is part 32 of excerpts from the trail log which was located on a New York portion of the Appalachian trail. For the post which explains this series, click here. You can read all the previous hiking posts by clicking here.
Each new edition includes a quote from a hiker, along with this writer’s insight into what the person might have meant. Your interpretation may be different!
Following is my selection of this week’s thoughts of a hiker(s).
Lost my cell phone. I am FREE!!!
July 16, 2018 was a busy day for this Appalachian Trail log. It was a hot Monday, with temperatures near 90 and humidity of about 70%. During that day, nine people took the time to stop and sign their names or write a few words. I read through the entries until I found this one. It made me laugh. And then this hiker’s words made me reflect a bit on our sometimes love-hate relationship with our phones.
I’ve been around long enough to remember when phones were attached to the wall with a cord. There were no answering machines, no voice mail, and no caller ID. If the phone rang and you were not home, it just kept ringing until the caller got tired of hearing the rings. You would have no idea who called. If you were on the phone and someone else wanted to use it, they either waited or you got off. You couldn’t get much privacy on a call. It was usually in a central spot of the house, where everyone else was, so if you wanted to say something privately, you had to take the phone as far as the cord would go. Then whisper. And everyone would still hear. I still remember dinner time when the phone would ring and my dad would insist we let it be. “If it’s important, they will call back.” That used to drive us nuts, but that’s just how life was.
I don’t remember when I purchased my first cell phone but I do remember the first time I saw someone getting email on their phone. I was at the airport with my manager at the time and he was responding to email messages as he waited for the flight. I thought that was an amazing thing, and as soon as I could I purchased a phone that would allow me to do the same thing. Now we are at a point where our cell phones let us to stay in touch no matter where we are. We can call, text, email, play games, take photos, post to social media, use tools like flashlights and levels, calculate, watch videos, videoconference and more, with people who are anywhere in the world. And we can do all that using a device that fits in our pocket. Technology is an amazing thing.
On the negative side, we are now findable everywhere. We can work anywhere and at any time. There are non-stop interruptions to our train of thought, all day long. It’s sometimes hard to get anything done as the texts are coming non-stop, the phone is ringing, emails are coming in. I also think cell phones are part of the reason people are losing track of the human connection. Just watch a group of people who are out for dinner at a restaurant. Most of the time, they are all staring at their phone screens instead of interacting with each other.
And we’ve become tethered to our phones. If we leave the house without it, often we go back and get it. Are we addicted? I don’t know but it’s extremely difficult to go anywhere without our phone in hand. What if someone calls? What if I see something I want to take a photo of? What if I get an important business email? Or what if there is an emergency, and I need to call for help? It’s quite problematic, in my opinion, to be so dependent upon an object.
Back to our hiker of the day. He lost his cell phone. When he realized this, he probably tried to remember the last time he had it. Perhaps he retraced his steps. Did he go back a mile or more to see if he could find it? I bet he did. And then he may have felt a bit panicked. But however he felt when he initially dropped the phone, by the time he got to the log book, his thoughts had changed. He felt untethered. Free. Perhaps happy.
I think it would be interesting to shut the phone off every day for a certain amount of time. I bet anything that needed attention would still be there when we turned it back on. And we’d have some much needed time to regroup.
“Lost my cell phone. I am FREE!!” Seven words that reflect on society’s relationship with our phones. Thank you hiker for making me think.
Until next time, happy trails!