I woke up yesterday morning thinking it was going to be a fantastic day. I took a cab from Wall Street to Grand Central Station, took pictures of the beautiful skyscrapers and mentally prepared for my upcoming meeting. As I was waiting in line at Starbucks I went to reach for my phone to check in with my 10:30 am meeting and realized the phone was nowhere to be found. There is nothing worse then being stuck in the middle of Grand Central Station without a phone. I felt vulnerable, exposed and completely stranded in the Big Apple. I had to rely on police officers to use their phones to call my number to see if anyone would pick up. I was praying that there would be a Good Samaritan that would happily return the phone- but no luck.
Luckily I paid for the cab with my credit card and I was able to track down the cab drivers number and had them search the vehicle, but no phone was found. A few hours later- the phone stopped ringing and it had been shut off, which means someone out there happily found the phone and decided to shut it off and is probably re-selling it on the street. I spent the next ten hours at Verizon setting up a new phone, re-installing all of my apps and canceling the old number. The backup assist that I spent 5 hours working on with them a few weeks ago failed and not one of my contacts was re-stored.
All of this got me thinking about how engrained technology is in our daily lives. Try spending a day without a phone– notice how your mannerisms and hand movements change. For example, as I was driving I kept reaching into my bag to check my phone only to realize it wasn’t there. All of my pictures of friends and family that I had accumulated were also lost to some stranger in Manhattan; which is a very unsettling feeling. I was beginning to treat the phone as an alternate camera, and the pictures I took at my Grandmothers Birthday from that phone can now never be replaced. Some lucky person in Manhattan now has access to all of my work emails, my Facebook and my Twitter messages. This makes me have serious privacy concerns. Even if you lock your phone you are still open to all sorts of privacy attacks as it is easy to hack in.
I was also forced to have more human interaction then I am normally used to- especially on the train. Whereas I would normally hide away in my Ipod, my laptop or my Blackberry, I was forced to talk to others around me. This made me realize the decreased number of “human to human” interactions I am having on a daily basis due to my relationship with my devices.
This post is not about “the importance of backing up you contacts” as that goes without saying. A day without my phone made me really re-think the content of my emails, my posts, the pictures I take and the private text message conversations I have. The more time we spend with our personal devices the longer we develop a more intimate relationship with them– but don’t be fooled. Regardless of how personal it is, everything you are writing does not inherently belong to you- it is stored on a server somewhere and can be retrieved at any time or sold on the street for that matter.
If you are ever in a similar situation, here are my tips for handling cell phone withdrawal and surviving a lost phone situation:
- Immediately change your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and email passwords
- Put out a status update on your social media accounts to alert your network that your phone has been lost so that if anyone does hack into your phone they will know the messages are not coming from you
- Locate the nearest computer and hop on! This way you can log into online banking and immediately take measures to put a hold on the account
- Learn how to be nice to police officers- they are your friends and will let you call your phone from theirs to see if anyone picks up
- Be nice to the people at the phone store- you will be sitting with them for a minimum of 2 hours so you should make it as enjoyable as possible for the both of you if at all possible
- Be grateful- losing all of your contacts, photos and emails is very unfortunate- but what is more unfortunate is losing your health. In the grand scheme of things losing your phone is not the end of the world, so write a gratitude list of 10 things you are grateful for (the fact that you are able to purchase a new phone) and try to be optimistic.
Today I am committed to having a new relationship with my phone. I am beginning to re-think the messages I write, the pictures I take and the work e-mails that I send from my mobile device. At the end of the day, what I have taken away from this situation is a newfound respect for the power of technology. The second it begins to consume you the universe will literally rip it right out of your hands and make you start over again.