Epic Saga of the Cellphone

When enjoying the wilderness, there are certain rules that many hikers follow.  If you pack it in, you take it out.  Sadly there are times while hiking in the back country that we find garbage that others have left intentionally.  (To the person who left an open full can of beer in the middle of the trail, you are an idiot!)

One glorious Sunday in July, a friend and I were hiking the Steamboat Mountain Lookout Trail.  When what should I find?  None other than a cellphone.  We stopped and looked at the phone.  This was definitely unique item to be found on the trail and technically it is an item that did not belong where it was found.  So I picked it up.  It was damp.  It wouldn’t turn on.  But this phone belonged to someone.  The case looked worn and well-loved.  I decided to take it with me and try to find the owner when I got home.

One reason I decided to try to find the owner was because I know how heartbreaking it can be to lose all the data on your phone.  This past spring my touch screen quit working on my iPhone.  When I took it to my cell phone provider, I was informed that although I had insurance they no longer repair cell phones.  I would have to pay $200.00, lose all my data and get a new phone that I would have to spend months learning how to use.  That was not acceptable to me.  I ended up going to a local phone repair shop.  For half the cost they fixed my screen and I was able to keep all of my data and my phone.

Another reason I wanted to find the owner was because of something that happened to a friend of mine.  She was hiking the Sluice Boxes in the Little Belt Mountains and lost her cell phone.  She didn’t realize it until on her way home from the hike.  She thought she was going to have to buy a new phone.  But some other hikers found her phone and were able to get a hold of her.  She was so relieved to have her phone back.

Once home, I tried to find a cord for charging the phone.  I also had to take the phone out of its case to dry it off.  That was when I discovered that this phone was a Samsung Galaxy S6 and I had nothing compatible.  It just happened that at work the next day our computer tech guy was helping us with our network and he had a cord that was compatible with the phone.

After charging the phone for 24 hours, a blue light came on.  But I could not get the phone to turn on.  The touch screen had been damaged.  I examined the phone again.  I was able to access the port holding the SIM card.  There were numbers on the card and it looked like it was intact.  No damage.

I called the service provider and asked if they could trace an owner by the SIM card.  It was a very interesting conversation.  (Some of which I am saving for another post.)  But the gist of it was that yes, they could trace the owner through the card and all I had to do was take it to a Verizon store.

Later that day, I was at a Verizon store explaining what had happened.  I was told that they couldn’t give me their customer’s information (I completely understand!) but if I would like to leave my name and phone number that they would have the person call me when they received their phone.  I thought that was really nice.  After all, this phone and I had bonded while trying to find their owner.  And I really do want to know that the person it belongs to actually got it back.

That was over a week ago.  I have not heard from the owner.  I thought it would be obsessive if I showed up at the Verizon store again asking if they were able to contact the owner.  (The way the phone service is you have to go through a round robin of options to talk to someone back east.)  So I can’t really check on the phone through Verizon’s service.

I feel a little sad that I’ve not heard anything further about the cell phone and/or it’s owner.  Maybe they had written off their phone and didn’t care that someone found it and took the time to try to return it to them.  Maybe it is part of the culture of entitlement, the feeling that of course someone would return my lost phone.  Maybe we have lost the art of saying thank you.  Maybe they just don’t care.

Whatever their reasons….. I know that for myself, if my phone had been lost and someone had found it and I was able to get it back and could talk to them.  I would.  I would want to know where it had been found.  I would also want to thank them.  But that is just me.

Because I am the person that I am, I will continue to pick up trash that less considerate hikers leave on the trail.  And yes, if I find another cell phone, I will try to return it to its owner.  Even if I never find out the rest of the EPIC SAGA.

Why I don’t Facebook

Over the years friends and family have said to me, “You don’t have a Facebook page.  Don’t you want to stay connected to people?  Why don’t you Facebook?”  Or there are the those that say, “You need a Facebook page.  As an artist, you are committing career suicide by not having a page.  Everyone has a Facebook page.  You don’t want to appear like you don’t know what you are doing tech wise by not having a Facebook page.”

Other people have said that you will not get hired by a company if they can’t review your Facebook page.  If this is the case, with some of the things that people post on their Facebook pages, I am surprised anyone gets hired EVER!

I want to make this VERY CLEAR that I do not judge those that choose to Facebook.  I have heard and understand the myriad of reasons why people choose to do so.  Those are your reasons and your choices.  Again, I do not judge anyone for their choice to use Facebook.  That decision is entirely up to you.  I also ask that you do not judge me for my choice to not Facebook.  That being said, below are the reasons why I do not Facebook.

As to the constant question, “Don’t you want to stay connected to people?”  Of course, I do.  And to be brutally honest, I am already connected with the people I want to be connected to and communicate with.  I don’t need a Facebook page to reach out to those I care about.  I can call them.  (Yes, I know actual conversation is a lost art.)  I can send them an email.  I can send them a piece of real mail.  (Again, I know….. writing a letter or sending a card is a lost art.)  But these are ways in which I enjoy communicating.

Someone once said to me, I post all of my pictures on my Facebook page.  Don’t you want to see them?  Of course, I do.  But if you value my friendship and respect my choice to not have a Facebook page, can’t you send one or two in a text or email?  A couple, three or four images, possibly your favorite one or the ones you think are best, will suffice for me.

This brings me to another reason for not having a Facebook page, crime.  It seems like every other day you read about a burglary happening, a murder, stalking, child abduction, identity theft, etc. because of things that people post onto their Facebook page.  The latest fad is to post a picture of your passport covering your boarding pass.  While this says that you are about to go somewhere fun, adventurous and/or cool.  This also says two things to any potential thief.  You are not home and you are going to be away for a while.

Maybe people feel the need to Facebook because everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.  I wonder if some people think that by sharing every thought and every second of their life that it validates their existence.  But are they really living?  What did they learn about life, about themselves, about the place they live, and the other humans around them by sharing their emotional status, what they are doing and/or a selfie every 15 minutes?  Is a life posted just as valid as a life lived?

Facebook is a façade.  It is a carefully crafted experience that the person who has the page has crafted.  And you, as the viewer, have entered into a social contract about believing or supporting this image or experience that has been provided to you.  Sounds a lot like watching TV or a movie and/or listening to political speeches.  You have to decide how much of what you are “seeing” is reality and how much is fluff.  One could argue that anything posed on-line is a façade but that is an argument for another day.

“I spent hours last night chatting on Facebook.  And then a couple more playing that new game.”  Facebook can be an incredible time suck.  It takes time to create that perfectly constructed facade and/or post 40 images from the vacation to Ireland.  And the latest version of whatever game that is played requires urgent attention if you are going to master it.  I feel that my time is limited already.  I do not need to add Facebook to my list of things that demand my attention.

Privacy.  I have been told that you can make your Facebook as private or open to the public as you would like.  That is fine.  But you are forgetting one major thing.  You are posting information on Facebook.  If you have read the agreement between you and Facebook when you signed up for your page, you would realize that Facebook owns your page and any and all content that you post.  They can do what they like (within the parameters of the agreement) with your content.  Also, a subpoena by any law enforcement division (police, FBI, NSA, etc.) requires that the entire content of your page including chats is turned over to the agency providing the subpoena.  So those conversations that you thought were private could become evidence.

Recently I found out that I am not alone in this decision to not Facebook.  A friend that I hike with does not have a Facebook page either.  There seems to be a small movement of people choosing not to Facebook.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who portrayed Harry Potter, does not have a Facebook page.

“But the thing is, in my job, you’re being more and more encouraged to give away your privacy. The studio says, ‘Can you get Twitter, please? Can you get Facebook?’ And I’m ‘No, I don’t do that.’ It’s not for any moral reason. I don’t think it’s wrong for anyone else to do it. But for me, it would be the worst thing in the world to suddenly have a new thing to be obsessed with, to have a constant feed of what people are thinking about me.”

“One day I’m going to have kids, and some paparazzo is going to take a photo of them, and I’m going to try and stop them, and there will be some huge debate about it. If somebody says, ‘Well, you’ve had Twitter for years,’ it’s hard to say you want your privacy when you’ve been making every moment of your day public.”

“Daniel Radcliffe Continues His Intrepid Post-Harry Potter Career” by John Powers for Vogue, July 2016

What it comes down to is my choice.  I have the freedom to say no.  Above are the reasons why I say no.  I respect that you may or may not choose to Facebook.  Please stop asking me set up a Facebook page.  Like Daniel Radcliffe and many others, “No, I don’t do that.”