Interruption machines

My dratted and despicable phone company announced that my old cell phone would no longer work on their 'upgraded' system. Oh, hooray, I had to 'upgrade'. Had to abandon the flip-phone I've barely used (but also barely hated) over the past many years. My new phone doesn't even flip open

It has dozens of brand names (just apps, but they're ads no less than ads for Pepsi and Burger King) splattered across the home screen — or it had, as the first thing I did was hide the apps it wouldn't let me delete.

Then I denied permissions to every one of the remaining 34 (!) built-in apps, except the few necessary for making phone calls, sending text messages, and taking photos.

Switched off "location tracking," though I doubt doing so will stop anyone from tracking the cell phone's location. It won't do them much good, though, as I never carry a phone with me. It stays at home, just like my phone fifty years ago stayed at home. Home is where a person's phone belongs.

Philosophically, what I hate most about phones is that they interrupt. That's their purpose. They're interruption machines, so my next challenge was getting my new phone to shut the hell up. I don't want it to ring — ever. I don't want it to vibrate. I don't need to know when text messages come in. I need it to sit there and never make a sound.

Well, getting a phone to shut up isn't easy. They're designed to interrupt, and they'll fight to the death for their ability to interrupt. After weeks of wrangling, I'm pleased to announce that I've defeated the phone, and absolutely silenced it, except for one unwinnable challenge.

Despite clicking every option to mute everything, having all the volumes set to zero, and being in "Do Not Disturb" mode since the day the device arrived, this phone has awakened me twice for Amber alerts. 

Puh-lease. I am opposed to the kidnapping of children, OK? But an Amber alert on my cell phone waking me up at 3:00 in the morning is not going to rescue a child. I'm not going to grab a flashlight and go on patrol, looking for some distressed child.

It's a cruel world and I am just cruel enough that I'd rather sleep through some brat's abduction twenty miles from me. If offered, I would also decline murder alerts that would ring my phone every time some stranger is killed. Shit happens, as they say, and I wish it didn't, but please don't wake me up whenever shit happens.


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  1. This is where having a second room would come in handy. I never sleep with a phone in my room -- unless I'm expecting an important call from someone doing work on my place (plumber, electrician). You need a soundproof box on the far side of the room. LArden.

    1. Sounds like a good idea, maybe from experience? Are you perhaps also someone who despises the phone?

    2. Actually, I enjoy talking with people I love on the phone. I have severe hearing difficulties in real life and despite wearing a hearing aid that works most of the time, it can't filter out all the background noise or raise the level of a quiet talker, but a phone is essentially a microphone you talk into with a speaker that goes directly into your ear, so it's ideal for someone like me.

      I've been known to carry on calls that last for hours. But it's always with a willing conspirator. I make sure I leave plenty of breaks in my speech for the other person to tell me they need to go. I'm conscientious about these things and often remind people that I am a talker and that if I'm driving them crazy, please tell me and I will be brief. Friends swear they enjoy the conversation and I hear from them every few months.

      BUT because I respect the phone as a device for meaningful conversation, I don't allow it to intrude into the rest of my life. Yes, I will call my girl if I'm at the supermarket and am not sure if we need something or to let her know if I'm running late so she doesn't worry. That's common sense. But it's not interrupting the flow of my previously scheduled activities. And the only time I take a 'call waiting' is if it's someone that we are expecting an important phone call from (doctor, pharmacy...). Otherwise, all beeps go to voicemail. The person I'm speaking with is entitled to my full attention, not the person who is interrupting. I will call them back when I have sufficient time to treat them fairly, too. --LArden.

      I would never expect a person like yourself who states flat-out that you do not like to talk on the phone to engage in one of my phone calls. Respect for others is big with me.

  2. >I never carry a phone with me. It stays at home, just like my phone fifty years ago stayed at home

    I fully get this. But as someone who has some mobility issues - the ONLY fucking reason I truly have a phone is in case of car trouble. I have to be able to call for help. Yeah, the phone is good for asking Virginia if she needs milk while I'm at the store, but it's much more of a "Just in case, oh shit" thing.

    1. Definitely a different situation when you're rural and have such issues. And I carried a cell when my wife was alive but her health was precarious, in case of emergencies.

      My perspective on all this might change if/when I'm ever stranded...

      Actually, a light dawns in my head full of noir -- once I get the damned phone completely and permanently silenced, what's to keep me from carrying it in my backpack? It can't interrupt me once it's gagged. Suddenly it seems like a good idea to have a phone with me, so thanks for pre-un-stranding me on some crappy day in the future.

  3. Ha ha, good last line...Phones: fertile topic...

    1. I hate phones, always have, even back when they had wires coming out of the wall.


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