Helplessness Alarming

I used to tell time with a watch. But then my smartphone, with its digital, large ­print, lighted clock, started tagging along me wherever I went, and it soon became my timepiece. I still have my watch, of course. It sits on my wrist like a vestigial organ, though it's prettier than an appendix. Still I seldom look at it anymore.

My smartphone has even become my alarm clock, ­­and not just when someone calls the wrong number at 5 a.m. I actually prefer it to my old-­fashioned alarm clock, mainly because it doesn't sound like a fire alarm going off by the bed every morning. That never seemed like a good way to start a day. 

My smartphone gives me a choice about what sound I want to wake up to. I picked a tone called Morning Light, only because a gentle voice telling me breakfast is ready isn’t one of the choices.

I was tempted by Evolving Seaside, which sounds like you fell asleep by the ocean. But I was afraid I'd wake up wondering if my toilet was running over and how that sea gull got into my bedroom. That's no way to wake up either.

So now, not only is my phone my means of communication, my camera, my appointment book, my calculator, and my library full of time­squandering games, it's my watch and alarm clock. I should have known it was dangerous to give one little device so much control over my life. 

And it is dangerous. Sometime in the middle of the night, my smartphone died. Turns out that, like many electronic devices, mine works best when it's charged. I woke with a start, wondering if I was late. I checked my old reliable watch, but I couldn’t tell what time it was! It was alarming! 

Seriously, though, for a moment, I could not figure out the time. In my defense, I have to say, the light was dim, I was half asleep, and my watch has those little marks instead of real numbers, like someone got lazy at the watch factory.

I did eventually determine the time. But the experience reminded me of all the ways technology is contributing to my slow decline. I haven’t been able to write for a longtime, though most people who know me don’t blame technology for that. But I do. I type. I text. I seldom write. I'm out of practice. I start writing, grow weary, and trail off. Every word looks like I dozed off while I was writing it.

And write a letter? A what? I can't even write a check anymore. When I squander mymoney now days, I do it with a debit card.

I can't find my house without GPS either. I'm exaggerating! I can find my house on most days. But I do rely on GPS to get me places that I would have found somehow before, though maybe not by the time I needed to be there.

I have a giant dictionary, but I don't remember the last time I used it. Would I even know how to look up a word anymore? It's faster for me to go downstairs, turn on my computer, and look up the word on the internet than it is to find my dictionary­­and my reading glasses. 

My son and his friends don't know how to use a phone book. It's easier for them to look on line­­ or ask me. Unfortunately, using telephone books and dictionaries was the main way we all practiced our ABCs. I've been humming the alphabet song lately, just to keep in shape. 

Maybe I should also write a few lines and practice telling time the analog way a few times every day. And I should try finding my way with a map now and then. And I should start writing more checks. Well maybe not that. But I should get into the habit of charging my cell phone.