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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Great Technological Meltdown of 2015: A Story of Struggle, Redepmption, Altruism and the Resilience of the Human Spirit, pt. 1

It was like any other Wednesday evening after Thanksgiving break; pervasive melancholy at the thought that the rich, beautiful home-made macaroni and cheese that so brightens my life and captures my spririt is unattainable once again until next year. In a desperate attempt to keep this soul-crushing knowledge at bay, I immersed myself in phone-based social media, propagating hilarious Instagram memes and sarcastic Snapchats. Everything was going swimmingly; I was laughing, my friends were roasting me -- I really thought eveyrthing was going to be fine, that Thursday (the last day of class) would end my semester on a high note, that reading period was going to be off to a good start...
How naive I was.
 
Suddenly, an ordinary night turned extraordinary when my iPhone threw itself into water, not even fully submerging as I saved it under two seconds from a watery death. I tried to convince myself that my phone, my technological arm, was barely harmed, and bravely continued to utilize my phone. I backed up the device just in case, to my downfall. 

The phone started to glitch -- at first just some small water spots in the bottom right-hand corner, however as time passed on and as I frantically waited for the back-up to finish, the water spread across the bottom half of the phone. I couldn't bear to look at my phone while it struggled to backup to iTunes and Photos, thus, I traveled downstairs to the Currier dining hall. My friends, sensing something wrong, asked me the matter, and I painted for them my plight. Rice, they asked me, did I have rice? Rice....I thought...rice! I had forgotten about rice and its propensity for solvnig water-based phone incidents! A solution...except for the fact that I did not randomly possess dry bags of rice in my room. I sent a frantic email over the Currier mail list to see if by chance some other student happened to be a rice afficianado and had some of the grain to spare. Despite myriad expressions of condolences and expressions of solidarity, the emailed responses contained no solution to my plight. 

I returned to my room to see that though my phone had finished backing up, it seemed as though it would not survive much longer. I unplugged my phone and turned it off only for it to turn on by itself and blink at me as though it were saying good bye. Not on my watch! It was 1 am -- the prime time, as any student knows, for productivity and solution-finding! I convinced an unlucky friend of mine to join me in my quest for rice, and we set off for Starmarket in the dead of night, nothing but our courage and the stars above to keep us company.

I return to my room with a bag of organic jasmine rice in hand and a strong hope in my heart. 48 hours, Google told me -- I just needed to keep my phone in rice for 48 hours and all will be well.

Never mind that most Google results mandated immediate shut-off of the phone's power and instant immersion of the phone into rice whereas I had backed up my data for an hour after its swim...

Denial is a powerful thing.

The next day I am late to my class on Divinity Avenue; I woke up late due to dealing all night with my phone and finishing the rest of my work only to miss the shuttle. I decide running to class will be quicker than waiting for the next shuttle to come, and decide to try a new, quicker way to Divinity Avenue from the Quad about which my friend had told me. 

I end up lost somewhere in Porter Square-- no phone, and no map because computers are useless without wifi. I wander around aimlessly and contemplate returning to my room, but I ultimately decide I can't let these setbacks defeat me, on the last day of class no less! Thus, I somehow meander onto Oxford Street and I am back in business (albeit thirty minutes late).

This same day, this wonderful, beautiful Thursday, was absolutely glorious... I had two interviews back to back and then later that evening was one of the biggest events I had planned of the year. Of course one interview was in the Quad and one was on the River, and of course the Quad evening's shuttle unreliable nature reared its ugly head again, and of course I subsequently found out that one cannot order rideshare transportation such as Uber or Lyft from the computer, and of course I had to sprint from Currier to Dunster in heels. Of course my interviews ran late, of course the person I had to meet to help me with food and speakers for the event thought I was a flake and proceeded to secure the soundsystem without me, and of course I sprinted to our designated meeting-place anyway because I couldn't read my Facebook message on my computer and walk down the street at the same time.

My first not even 24-hours without a phone were going swimmingly.

Alas, when I arrived at the hard-fought 48-hour mark, it turned out everything was in vain. The phone, when pulled from its rice-y depths, maintained its stubborn black screen, refusing to show even a flicker of life despite my repeated attempts to charge it and restart it. 

No matter -- my roommate has an old, fully-functioning iPhone -- I will just use hers! 
Of course her phone is T-mobile, of course I have Verizon, and of course Verizon iPhones and T-mobile iPhones use different technologies that render them incapable of being activated on each others' platforms. Go figure.

Another person was going to give me his iPhone, but his father decided he wanted it instead.

I am on a now 12-day hiatus from mobile technology. 

I can't snapchat, I can't Uber, I can't receive calendar aletts, I can't email. People say I should feel liberated, but I can't relax.

Friends have invited me to birthday events, but I never received the texts, my non-response to their friendly invites causing them to reevaluate our friendship.
An important contact was trying to communicate with me for two days, resulting in almost another missed connection.

My computer is my lifeline, my direct conduit to scheduling meetings, messaging contacts, conducting my daily life, though I am intimately aware of its wifi Achilles heel.

Harvard students have offered me Samsungs that have no compatibility with iCloud, iPhones so old they're incompatible with new OS updates, and fine, old iPhones at prices so exorbitant that I wonder if they are really Harvard students or Apple executives in disgusie.

I'm sure this essay can be taken as commentary on millennial reliance on technology, the dangers of becoming too attached to one's mobile life, the need for humanity to return to nature, and I am happy to discuss those topics. However, as of now, I am still of the opinion that I would like to have a phone again. 

Until then, my computer should suffice, right?

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