Lately, my cell phone has been acting kind of funny. Every time I turn it off, and then turn it back on, it resets the time and date to January 1, 2005, at 12:00 midnight. As a result, every time I get a text message or miss a phone call thereafter, it will say it was received at the according time, like “Text from Matt, Jan. 5, 2005, 3:45 a.m.” It is really throwing me off. We have become so dependent on technology that, for a split second, looking at that message will have me question my reality. Was that message sent January 5, 2005? Is it 2005? Did I even know Matt in 2005? And why was he writing me a text message at 3:45 a.m.?
The clock is off too, and even though I wear a wrist watch, I am surprised by how frequently I will look at my phone to see what time it is. Why do we do this? Is society telling us that looking at our phones is important? Is it a sign of social status? Like, oh, he’s looking at his phone while he commutes/waits in line/sits in court, he must be important? Everybody knows you’re just playing Angry Birds.
I often think about time travel. Maybe it’s the nostalgia-riddled, sighing romantic in me. But recently I was riding a train in Minneapolis around rush hour, and every train station we stopped at, there were people standing, waiting for their train. And 90% of them were silently staring at their phones, zombie-like, ignoring those around them, the sunshine, and all the wonderful things you miss when glued to modern technology. I did see a few people reading books while they waited, and that was a comfort, but overall the experience left me sad. What if time travel was possible, and someone were to travel to that same train ride, even from just 10 short years ago? What would they think of the mindless drones staring at their little hand-held devices? They would probably think we had all been drugged/lobotomized/lost our minds. It is like an episode of “The Twilight Zone” out there. It is freaking me out.
What if it were possible? Say, there was a device, small, like a cell phone, and all you had to do was reset the date and time. Would that be neat? Scary? Where/when would you go (butterflies off the coast of Japan and ripple effects notwithstanding)?
Maybe I just need to get a new cell phone.