Okay, it isn't quite that bad, but sometimes it feels that way.
Through a series of accidents, I find myself both without personal transportation and more importantly without a smart phone. Learning how to navigate myself in the world without being tethered to my iPhone has proved to be frustratingly difficult.
Several times I have found myself standing on an unfamiliar street in San Francisco literally stymied about what to do next. Where do I go? How do I connect with anyone I know? What do I do? I felt like a crippled, blind gazelle in the concrete jungle.
This is how bad it has gotten: I have to carry a map, a pen and paper, and change for the bloody payphone. I have to plan stuff ahead of time — where and when I will meet someone, what happens if they aren't there, how to get there, what to do if I have to wait. How did people ever manage to meet up with each other before? I imagine there was a lot of wandering around shouting out each other's names and growing increasingly anxious and panicky, as night fell and the predators circled.
How did I get so dependent on my devices? I remember not that long ago wandering in the countryside of Guatemala alone, just me and my backpack, without so much as a guidebook. I would head into a cafe without a Yelp recommendation, ask strangers who I wasn't Facebook friends with if they wanted to travel together, find my way to the center of town without GPS. It was scary and thrilling.
I do find it liberating to wander around the city and not feel the need to constantly check-in, to Tweet out what I am doing at that exact moment, to neurotically check my email and Facebook. It's like, I can just be in the moment, be the Buddha.
That said, I am replacing my iPhone tomorrow first thing. By and large, my smart phone enhances my existence, rather than detracts it. But perhaps unplugging is a useful exercise in being fully human that I might practice say every month. Okay, every three months.
This was a useful life lesson. Which is good, because it cost me $300.