88: Hello?

Remember how I said, at beginning of this 100 days challenge, that my daily entry may be a few paragraphs, or it may be a few sentences? Today will probably be one of those latter days.

I started reading this article today about parenting in this age of the ever-ubiquitous smart phone. The author, Susan Dominus, laments the days past of fetching her mother’s address book, of hearing her announce her exchange information that can now so easily be found through any of our various forms of social media. I haven’t finished reading it yet; I didn’t have the time. Or I didn’t make the time. Precious commodity these days. I still haven’t perfected my handling of it.

So far, I’m with Dominus. There was an odd charm in opening my mother’s address book and seeing her friends’ names, birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers written out, alphabetically, in her neat, looping script. I remember bright yellow phone books nearly the size of my torso. The spiral-bound road maps and atlases that lived beneath the seats of my parents’ cars. Digital cameras. Floppy disks. VHS tapes. Beeping answering machines with actual rewind buttons. All of the minor accoutrements of life and utility, now shoved into a sleek mini-computer that sits snug in the palm of my hand, like it belongs there. What were thumbs and index fingers for, before we swiped and tapped?

This is not supposed to be maudlin. I do not think our dependence on devices portends society’s downfall. Every generation has its incredible innovations that, if viewed through a particular light, seem ominous. But sometimes, while I’m looking up the weather forecast, I can see Eve out of the corner of my eye, watching me. Curious. Tiny gaze fixed on the phone in my hand, the phone she sees me smile at and kiss my teeth at and laugh at. She is rocked with one hand while my other holds my phone to my ear. She marvels while I talk into it, and sometimes jumps when another voice barrels out of it. She ignores my cajoling and exaggerated grin, eyes tracking the small black box I’m holding, wary, uncertain. “Smile, Evie!” I prompt, clicking the shutter. Click. Click. Click.

I have no idea what her relationship to technology will be. Eric and I joke about being the old, corny parents when she is a teenager; we remember our years of AIM conversations and music sharing and chat speak that seemed so modern and intrinsic to us; so foreign and bizarre to our own parents. What will Eve and her friends understand that will be utterly bewildering to us? How will she remember her childhood? I think of this, when I see her tiny face watching me type, and usually, I’ll put my phone down, re-focus my attention. Live in the moment, instead of typing, swiping, tapping.

And then my phone will ding.

Originally published at www.carlawaslike.com.