My father’s birthday was March 14th, and I’ve been missing him a lot lately. He died two and a half years ago of Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia, at sixty-nine years old.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about my iPhone. This is because it’s been acting up–freezing on me for periods of time, refusing to give me access to visual voicemail. I called Apple tech support a few weeks ago. After half an hour of being-on-hold purgatory, an extremely jovial tech support guy assured me that my problems could be fixed by replacing the battery on my phone. Then he said that since I have an older phone (I bought my iPhone fifteen months ago), I would need to be sent to a Best Buy store to have the battery replaced. “We don’t keep your battery in stock at our Apple stores,” he told me. He thanked me many times for giving him the opportunity to serve me. A week later I received an e-mail from him, saying that Apple had completed the necessary paperwork and that Best Buy would contact me “in two to five weeks” to set up my appointment.
We rely so much on our technology that we are figuratively (and with GPS, literally) lost without it. I managed to circumvent the two-to-five-week wait at Best Buy by spending another half an hour on hold with their tech support team and making an appointment directly. The woman who eventually replaced the battery on my phone was friendly, courteous, and competent. Thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents later, my iPhone still isn’t working.
What do we lose in our dependence on our computers, our smart phones, and the dense web of technology that gives shape to our lives today? The grief that I feel about my father, and the anxiety that wells up around my iPhone, both come from a gnawing sense of absence. I can’t see, hear, or touch my father. With malfunctioning technology, I am severed from the currents of communication running invisibly through the atmosphere. Suddenly, I am alone. A frozen iPhone and the dead space when we’re on hold with a faceless technology company both feel as cold as stone.
by Elana Kupor