5 Things I Learned When I Fried My iPhone

Seattle — it occasionally rains here.
Matthew Inman nailed it
Long story short, I fried my iPhone — there was a small incident involving a nice Seattle day, an open sunroof and a freak rainstorm.

(I live in Seattle. It occasionally rains here.)

The phone kinda works. Somehow, the screen part of the touchscreen got fried. The touch part still works.

Technically, I can receive calls (the slider works) but can’t make them or send/receive texts. Forget looking up directions, checking mail, using apps.

My iPhone 5 is on order (one more week!), so I decided I’d tough it out. It’s been a helluva week.

  1. “Um. Do you know where Blanchard is?” Stopping and asking someone for directions? That’s so 90s. But, apparently I’ve lost all ability to follow old-school directions — you know, the kind you looked up on MapQuest and printed out?

    Solution: Well, you’re pulling over and asking the nice stranger.

  2. Spatial & temporal amnesia. I go to a lot of meetings these days. Forget figuring how to get to 2nd & Blanchard, how do you even know you’re supposed to be at 2nd & Blanchard?! Oh, and you can’t call anyone.

    Solution: I found this beautiful little app, Sunrise.im — total lifesaver.

  3. (Actually) Addicted to email. If I have a free second, I’ll check email. (You know, just in case.) Or, “let me just fire off this quick note.”

    A couple weeks ago, I was at an event with a board member — I spent most of it firing off emails. He called me out afterwards, gently but sternly, for being rude. He was right.

    Solution: I didn’t realize how bad it was — I found myself struggling with a few spare minutes. The first step? Admitting you have a problem.

  4. How many pings we get. My phone has been on — I feel it buzz every time. Maybe because I can’t answer them, I notice more how often it buzzes. Normally, each one of them would’ve been an interruption.

    My half-broken iPhone
    My half-broken iPhone
    And those little red badges — all those missed calls, unread texts, unread emails? That’s a whole ‘nother kind of cognitive pressure.

Being a proud nerd, I ran the numbers — DiskAid, Graph Your Inbox & some Python. In the past few days, I—

  • Received 1,042 emails.
  • Have 248 unheard voicemails and missed calls.
  • Still need to read 100+ texts.

But, you know the deepest, darkest thing I learned about myself during my week with no iPhone — no on-the-fly email, no realtime directions, no iCal?

  1. I liked it. Being fully present, focused & available with another human being is absolutely magical.

    I’ve always been a data geek — I’ve always liked numbers & data and people have always been a little confusing to me. I’ve been working on it this year. But without my phone, I found myself engaging fully … and in the magic.

    While the pace of my life continues to accelerate, this week was a nice reminder that disconnecting can bring back some humanity to life.

    Solution: Be present, available. Turning off the ringer isn’t good enough — you might still check who it is (“just in case”). Try leaving your phone behind entirely and see if you feel a difference.

In the end, I conceded defeat. A replacement iPhone just arrived and, as of today, I’ll be back online. So, if you haven’t heard from me in a week — well, I’m sorry, I’ll call you back now.

NOTE 12/22: This post is actually from November. Ironically, after I got my iPhone back, I got pulled back into the whirlwind so quickly I never had a chance to finish it.

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