Lori Allen — Doing without technology while the cellphone dries out

12/03/2013 4:10 PM

12/03/2013 4:12 PM

After dropping my iPhone, yet again, I was flooded with relief to see it respond. It was comforting to know that the case works.

After all, I use this device constantly. I text, talk, shop and read electronic books.

I check the news, Facebook and all of my email accounts. Let’s not forget Twitter and Instagram for my business.

And after having stripped my home phone service down to the bare minimum, I need my cellphone to make all long-distance calls. Yep, I was busy basking in my good fortune, when I loaded up the laundry basket with clothes.

I threw my phone on top of the pile so that I would not drop it again. You can’t be too careful.

My bedroom and laundry room are not that far apart, but my brain was already a million miles away. I was planning the rest of my day as I twisted the temperature knobs and poured detergent into the blast of water.

I dumped the clothes into the washer and heard the “clunk.” My hand impulsively fished in the water for the belt that might have been left in a pair of pants. To my horror, I pulled up my empty phone case. The next frantic dive produced my beloved cellphone, still on.

There was a moment of hope as I grabbed a towel to dry it off. I started pressing a few buttons to make sure it still worked.

I wiped a bit more and then made a bee line for the rice container. I shut off my phone (which was flickering and fading) and put it in an air tight container with the dry rice.

Searching the Internet for additional help, I learned that I should have powered down immediately and focused more on drying the phone off quickly and completely. I should have taken a Q-Tip to every little nook and cranny, switch and port.

That makes sense. Next it said to put the phone in a bag of dried rice and zip the bag shut. At least I got that right.

Then, I read, wait for 36 hours.

Wait, what? Thirty-six. Hours? That’s not going to work.

Hmm, maybe that part didn’t apply to my situation. After all, my phone didn’t get a complete bath, it was more like a shower.

So I made a call to Sprint on the old landline (now there’s some irony) to get advice. Yes, wait the full 36 hours.

No, I can’t get my text messages any other way. No, they don’t have a phone for me to use for 36 hours until I attempt to power back on.

“Try Craigslist and get a cheap one to get you through the next 36 hours,” he suggested.

Instead, I contacted my various appointments for the day and anyone that might text me to let them know I would not be available on my cell. I heard comments like, “Ah, going through tech detox?” or “escaping the connected world?” as if there must be some psychological reason that I would elect to go without.

After a few hours, even I expected that I would have some sort of revelation about life without my cellphone. Maybe I would enjoy the freedom and want to begin disconnecting a bit more.

Or the opposite, that I would not be able to take it, and I would rush out to get a replacement before the 36 hours were up. It turns out technology (my cellphone in this case) is only loosely integrated into my life.

There was no rush to the store to get a replacement and also no relief or feeling of freedom. I’m not an addict but rather I simply appreciate being connected and it’s OK to be without it for a while.

But only for a while. It was time to check back in on my phone. I started rethinking that addict denial as I realize it had only been 24 hours. Did the uncooked rice magically draw out all of the moisture?

I am happy to report — that trick works.

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