Cambrian: Opinion

High-tech complications hinder communications

This “phone” outside Tacos de Mexico in Morro Bay is about as useful as the one the columnist misplaced.
This “phone” outside Tacos de Mexico in Morro Bay is about as useful as the one the columnist misplaced. Special to The Cambrian

What an intriguing social experiment I’ve inadvertently embarked upon: My phone and I parted ways. A lovely time was had by all last night at a birthday gathering over the hill in Atascadero at a delightful new establishment serving hard cider. The cider was not the problem. Emotions revolving around growing kids –make that “grown” kids – distracted me. That and my regular forgetfulness.

Snap. Pose. Snap, snap, snap with the camera on said mobile device. “Let’s dance to the jukebox!” I believe it’s still sitting on a table there where I set it down to go shake it up. Of course, we were already back in Cambria by the time I realized it was not in the vicinity of my purse. And they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. I am hoping they might check emails for some strange reason today and email me back that they have it safely in hand for my retrieval. My friends over there are also going to help in its pursuit.

All that said, I must confess I often envy my friends who have no mobile phone, let alone a computer. But with two very tech savvy boys and a desire to stay in touch with them (and maybe even have a clue as to what they are talking about half the time), I had to jump in. Not to mention, if I want to work, I’ve got to answer the phone. At any time.

This situation did cross my mind when I first decided to lose the landline (which actually wasn’t even that for some time, as it was bundled with some other services). Knowing I could keep my 927 number of almost 35 years AND save $50 or so a month, “Well, I will just be diligent about keeping track of it.”


Wait, it gets worse

In this age of instant messaging and last-minute appointments (in the massage business it’s usually a case of I-NEED-IT-NOW so I never know quite when I will be busy) I’m out of luck until I can retrieve it. But wait, it’s more pathetic …

I wanted to call some of the people I thought might care — like my friend with whom I wished to walk. I wanted to let employers know I couldn’t answer their texts but really need the work! Their phone numbers are all in my phone! Like I said, pathetic. One or two numbers are in the phone book or in my head but there aren’t pay phones any more so I can’t walk down the hill and do that. I could ask a neighbor to borrow their phone as they are all awesome like that around here, but...

I have come to take this little convenience for granted. Others have, too, and I imagine will be wondering why I am ignoring them. When I’ve gone on retreat into the mountains, everybody was informed of my planned absence well in advance, and my voicemail message reminded them “so please be safe until I return to civilization.”

Am I feeling lost without it or more afraid of the repercussions of not being connected? I know I need work. That’s not happening for a day or two unless they come to my door and ask or email me enough in advance. And I loathe being connected to the computer for long periods of time (it happens, but my body and energy pay for it).

So, one more thing to meditate on, to lament the development of a way of life that gets more exclusive and more complicated and of being dependent on anything.

I thought technology was supposed to make our lives easier!

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at, or visit her website at