day 26.

The last 36 hours have been something of an impromptu social experiment for me. At about 7:30 yesterday morning, my phone lost internet capability. After a couple of calls to T-Mobile, it was determined that there was nothing wrong with my phone or account or settings, but there was a data tower out somewhere. We had a torrential storm here yesterday morning, and maybe something got knocked awry. Who knows. T-Mobile put in a service ticket and said worst case scenario was about three days without internet service, if someone had to actually climb the tower and knock things about with physical tools. Like in olden times. I said ok, thanks for your help.

Then I proceeded to spend the next 36 hours learning all about how much of my life is tied to being able to access the internet on my phone. Hint: ALL OF IT. I could still send text messages, and the phone itself was working fine. But nothing else. So while I was out of my apartment, no Twitter, no email, no Etsy shop maintenance, no Instagram, no Google everything ever, no Trimet to figure out where I am or where I need to go. I’ve only had a smartphone for just under two years, but in those two years, I handed this chunk of hardware the keys to my entire existence.

It turned out to be pretty good timing for a disconnect. Yesterday was a hellishly busy day, in which everything went wrong. Today was my all-day training for the new job, and it was information overload times infinity. While it was awkward to have to gather all my information for the day at home before I left – planning how to get where I was going, and what I might need to deal with during the day, and what I’d need to pick up on the way home – both yesterday and today worked better without the added distraction of knowing I could get online at any time. I keep most of my push notifications and alerts turned off, because I don’t like the phone poking me all day, but there’s always the background awareness of the internet and the quite rich and enjoyable life I live in there. There’s always the opportunity and/or temptation to leave the room in which I am physically sitting, and go there instead. Mostly I have a pretty good grip on when that’s appropriate or useful for me, and when I’m using it to avoid something. But yesterday and today were so overwhelming from a focus and information standpoint that having the option forcibly removed turned out to be a good thing. My internet access came back on this evening as I was getting off the train on my way home. Which basically felt like the world of technology telling me, “Ok, you did your stuff, and now you can be trusted with this again.” (The future is judgy.)

It also feels like this was a good trial run for adjusting to a new way of doing things. My new job is as a substitute secretary in Portland Public Schools. It’s going to be hectic beyond description. When I’m on a job, I’m not going to have time to check email, or update Etsy, or be on Twitter. Nor will I have the freedom to do those things, under the school terms of use policies. If I get a lunch break (by no means guaranteed on any given day), I might get the chance to check in on things. But I’ll be offline a lot more than I’m used to, and I’m going to need to change how I do some things. I pride myself on responding to customers really quickly, either on Twitter or by email, and I’m not going to be able to do that for a while. It’s going to be an adjustment, definitely. I might find that it doesn’t work for me, and isn’t in my best interests. But for now, I’m looking forward to the work, and it didn’t hurt to have this day and a half trial run.

[That being said, I was so happy when it came back and all my notifications dinged at once. Because I may need to unplug every once in a while, but damn I love it in here.]

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