The Joy of Going Dark

Watching the season six premiere of Mad Men Sunday night reminded me once again of a simpler time. However, witnessing the lack of constant communication and inability to Google anything on the spot always unsettles me; it feels like reverse science fiction. Did I once really live like this? When Betty went into The Dicey Neighborhood without a cell phone, I was very nervous indeed. How did we manage back then? Almost unbelievable.

It’s an interesting experience to be an American woman in her forties. I’m young enough to have adapted and embraced most new technology with ease, but I’m still old enough to remember having a real life before smart phones and GPS. I remember going out on dates, to parties and various day trips with friends and I rarely could call home to say I arrived safely; I just needed to return when I said I would. What a leap of faith! I remember going to New York City, Paris and London, meeting people at various pre-arranged spots, and if they were late or their train was delayed or they got a little lost…I just kept waiting. Eventually everyone always showed up. Finding someone in a big city without a cell phone seems like a true miracle today.

When I’m working, I don’t have my cell phone with me on the sales floor. It’s against policy and everyone knows I’m usually an obedient rule follower. For many hours at a time, I have no access to my phone, texts, emails, etc. And I kind of like it. For that time period, I am focused fully on being where I am and not distracted by the constant pings of notifications of my Other Life. The world, so used to my usual quick reply, needs to patiently wait until I am done working.

The world is not accustomed to patiently waiting for me. Once, while working a mere four hour shift, I found a voice mail, then a text seeing if I ever got the voice mail, and then another text to follow up…all from the same person in less than four hours. And this was not a 911 emergency, either.  People expect me to be a rapid responder and tend to panic a bit when I’m not. What would Betty say? Probably something delightfully bitchy.

I have learned to embrace my periods of digital incommunicado. They feel like mini vacations back to my youth, a life where I can go almost eight hours without knowing about baseball schedule changes and 40% off Banana Republic coupons and spring fair volunteer sign ups and the latest celebrity gossip and my son’s physics grade. Sooner or later, I find out about all of this stuff. For now, on brief occasions, I am enjoying the charmingly retro concept of Just Being Where I Am. I do believe it will be the next big thing.


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