my dumb phone speaks to me
We’re in a curious time, on the cusp between digital and analog. Even as technology races ahead, our systems, devices and physical bodies lag behind. On a recent trip, I found myself juggling two mobile phones, each with its own calling plan, its own number, its own set of contacts, its own identity, defined by geography and time zones.
On the one hand, there was the so-called smart phone, with its fancy screen, apps, auto-correct, and data connectivity — as long as I had wifi anyway. On the other, there was its counterpart, the dumb phone, with its monochrome display, clumsy buttons, and limits on text message length.
But if my phone is so dumb, why does it speak to me? Its awkward text prompts sometimes give me unexpected poetry, its silent screen delivering a jolt of truth.
And because it’s a dumb phone, it fails to learn. It still doesn’t know my name, for instance. There’s something charming about its arrested development, like a perpetual toddler that doesn’t outgrown the quirks of toddler speak.
I’m stitching its poems, thread on plain weave cotton. This time I’m doing it freehand, not plotting out the stitches beforehand, figuring it out as I go — because, really, at this point, we’re all figuring it out as we go.
My Dumb Phone Speaks to Me, 2012 (work in progress).