It’s been a rough few days around here lately … suddenly, and without any warning at all, there was a death in the Life of an Architect family. I have been struggling to cope with the death of the closest thing this happily married man has to a girlfriend. The worst part about this loss is that I am directly responsible for the death. It was accidental, maybe that makes it better but no matter how you look at it, I am responsible.
Hi everyone. My name is Bob and I am a cellphone killer.
You may think that this is not that big of a deal, and if you had told me that I would lose my cellphone – even for a few days – I would have told you “No big deal, I can handle it.”
I didn’t handle it very well. In fact, I have been freaking out about it since it happened. This last Sunday, I went to the pool with my family and I was loaded up with towels and floaties … and I was obviously wearing my bathing suit. Sitting in what you might call a back pocket of my swim suit was my cellphone. And there it stayed until 5 minutes after I had jumped into the pool
Bob (Dad):“Ahhh, the water is feeling good today. 5 minutes in the pool and I’m finally starting to cool off.”
Kate [pointing down]: “Daddy, is that your phone?”
Bob (Dad) [heart stopping, looking down]: “Noooooooooooooooo”
[zoom out from distraught man - fade to black, and scene]
That’s pretty much what happened and in the 4 1/2 days since I killed my cellphone, I have been digitally grounded. Before I get a hundred comments or emails, yes, I did thoroughly dry off my phone and I stuck it in a bag of rice for 2 days .. it is completely, and utterly dead.
You might be thinking to yourself “Big deal” and you might be right. Other than this being a costly error on my part, it’s hardly unique. The reason I decided to write about it had to do with how dependent I have become on my phone. Truthfully, it’s not really fair to call it a phone, out of all the things I can do with this thing, talking on the phone ranks towards the bottom. This “phone” is really my mobile office and I use it constantly throughout most days to do my job – both my architectural day job and my night job writing and maintaining the Life of an Architect
If I think about all the ways I use my phone, the camera feature might be the most important. Not only do I document projects with it, but I take pictures of things that I see that I find inspiring. Almost all the pictures I’ve used on this site over the last 2 years have been taken with my cellphone. I’ve even written posts on how I use my cellphone camera – Architects and Photography – and Documenting with Photos - in which I talk about how I take these pictures, how I edit them, what I use them for, etc.
Taking construction progress photos is part of the process I go through on all of my projects, and since I’ve started writing posts on Life of an Architect where I publish pictures for 8,000 people (give or take) a day to look at, I have become even more aware and self-conscious of the photos I take. ≈ from Documenting with Photos, Life of an Architect
I also use my phone to connect me back in to the people who read this site. Since you are reading this post, I know I am preaching to the converted, but the manner in which people are communicating with one another is changing. I’m not going to pass any judgments as to whether or not this is a good thing, it’s simply a statement of fact. I like talking about what I do for a living and what architects do in general that adds value to the society at large. In order to bring this message to “the people”, you have to go where those people are – which means other platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and on and on – there are literally thousands of places. The demographics of the people in each on of these places is different and the conversations I have with people who are on those sites reflect those differences. Since I have a real job that has real obligations and deadlines associated with it, I tend to jump on and off these different platforms whenever I have a few minutes. Waiting in line at the grocery store? Good time to hop in to Twitter. Filling the car up with gas? I can respond to some comments on Google+. Just finished building a new model of a house I am working on? Let’s get that on Instagram …
I think you get the point.
My cellphone number for the first time in my career is now on my business cards – something that in the past I was reticent to provide. Despite my fondness for talking, I don’t really like talking on the phone and I really, really don’t like talking on the phone if you’re a contractor calling me when I’m trying to eat dinner with my family. Things are different now, I wear a hat that has “Owner” on it and as such, I make myself available pretty much all the time. It doesn’t take long for people to stop calling you at the office (where they might not get you) and start calling you directly on your cellphone. It’s an adjustment I am trying to get used to but I think it’s going to take some time. There have been approximately 20 calls that I’ve missed from people who, at worst, thought I was trying to avoid them, and at best, think I am poor at returning phone calls – and these are only the ones I know of.
I know that I’ve brought a lot of these complications on myself and not everyone runs a website like mine, but even so, I don’t think there are too many of us who would be immune to the impacts losing the use of your cellphone brings. I’m not talking about “unplugging” for a few days while you go on vacation – I’m talking about what happens when you are suddenly without with out your cellphone for a few days. It’s an itch you can’t scratch. Ever driven off to work and left your cellphone at home? How many of us have turned around to go get it once you realized you forgot it?
I don’t wear a watch – never have. I attribute this to the fact that I am 25% Cherokee Indian and I can always look at the sun and determine what time it is [don't worry about the fact that I get somewhat claustrophobic wearing watches, rings, etc. - that's perfectly normal, lot's of people are like that]. If I’m in a meeting or someplace where I have to mind my time, I can simply use my phone. Grilling some super thick steak on the grill – I use the clockwatch on my phone. Want to get a message to my wife who seems to sit in meetings 25 hours a day? I can send her a text since she can’t check her voice mail. Run into a buddy while waiting in line at the bagel store – I can pull up my website and show them latest project photos.
I simply don’t know how architects who either don’t have a phone or worse, have a flip phone (c’mon people, it’s time to commit to the fact it’s not 1998 anymore) go about doing their jobs. I know that I am an extreme case and most people don’t use their cellphone to the extent that I do – but I would bet you use it a lot and are more dependent on it that you might care to admit. In my defense – not because I think I need to defend myself but trying address some comments I would imagine hearing – a large percentage of the activities I do on my phone relate in some capacity or another back to my job. While my Life of an Architect Facebook Fan page is pretty active, my personal Facebook page is a ghost town in comparison. I don’t text people other than my wife or the folks back at my office … I don’t even play games on my phone. I make more phone calls than emails, and I much prefer meeting face to face. I am not a social media shut-in despite any apparent evidence to the contrary.
Should I be concerned that I am so dependent on my phone? Am I so extreme as to be on the fringe or is this the direction that everyone seems to be heading? I’m really curious
…. so is my therapist.