Homeless people have better phones than I do. Some of them also have MP3 players and portable DVD players, neither of which I have ever owned.
Correction: I owned a Nano for two of weeks. A well-meaning guy I was dating gave me his semi-operable Nano for Valentine's Day (he had a new one). You couldn't forward or rewind, but you could poke "play" and hear some dance beats. He asked for it back after we broke up. I lose umbrellas, gloves, hats, scarves and sunglasses on subways as quickly as boyfriends, so I've never invested in music gadgets since my COBY CD player broke around 2001. Needless to say, I do not own a Kindle.
I'm terrified of the day my phone dies, when I will have to face again the option to upgrade to the new century. Despite my Amish-like ways, I'm a loyal Apple devotee. I love my Mac laptop. I have a crush on i-phones and i-tablets. But I shudder at the thought of being reachable 24/7, of being tempted to check work email or update my status or snap photos of the Jesus silhouette on my French toast or Google the Moore-Willis daughters at any given moment. I like to uni-task. I try not to text and walk at the same time. If I'm texting, how I can be fully attentive to my surroundings? How will I notice the pattern of clouds above or the scent of lilacs and dogwoods in bloom as I pass by? How will I have uninterrupted expanses of time to reflect, meditate, daydream?
Whenever I obsess about the evils of new technology and its devastation of attention spans, I think of Keats reclined in the tall grass and a nightingale close by singing. I imagine him listening, uninterrupted, still, enchanted, inspired. I can't picture him with a cell phone vibrating beside him, a Word window popping open on his tablet, a Facebook news stream updating him every millisecond with the status of his 999 "friends." He couldn't have tweeted an "Ode to a Nightingale" in 140 characters (although some scientific advances, like a TB vaccine, would have worked in his favor.)
One of the highlights of my weekend is turning off my phone, shutting down my laptop, and curling up on the couch for a nap. Mattie drowses at my feet, and it's so quiet I can hear us breathe.