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three and a half hours at the apple store

Apple devices

Because Michael has been having issues with his iPhone lately, we made a Genius Bar appointment at the Apple store yesterday. This was after having spent hours on the phone with a manager trying to resolve the problem — end result: “Sorry, I can’t do anything else for you” — and a Genius Bar appointment at a different store the day before — end result: “Yeah, I wish I could fix it.” And an “Oops, sorry I accidentally deleted that information you needed.”

Our appointment was for 4:40 and I didn’t even DVR The Voice because — really? It’s on at 8:00.

Yet, there we were at 8:15, three and a half hours after we were greeted by the first of three Geniuses, a term I use loosely, finally heading to the Food Court for pho — phok you, technology — hangry, frustrated and as wiped out as Michael’s phone which had to be restored to its original factory settings.

Yes, his phone finally worked again — we will ignore the fact that his texts are gone and he has to download all his apps again and reconnect the thousands of songs and podcasts on iTunes — but we were barely functioning.

This is not a rant against Apple. We are actually huge fans of the company and, ironically, just bought more stock yesterday.

This is, rather, an epiphany I reached in the Apple store while I studied the glazed eyes of hundreds of customers staring at screens and trying to understand the words being spoken by the supposed Geniuses.

It is time to unplug.

We are too dependent on technology and spend more time in front of our laptops than we do anything else — other than scroll on our phones. We are constantly eavesdropping on snippets of conversations on Facebook, browsing emails, skimming news feeds, listening to sound bites and trying to capture our feelings in 140 characters.

We are becoming robots.

Hey, I love the internet and technology; I’ve made it my profession. But we need to start viewing our devices as tools and resources for making the world a better place. Not as oxygen.

By being so tied to our electronics, we are losing that human connection. Honestly, it wasn’t until I explained — not so calmly — to our Genius that Michael had a writing conference to go to and that we weren’t leaving the store until he had a working phone, that he really got down to business. He and Michael started talking about poetry, which led to deeper conversations, which led to a connection between two human beings: one millenial who used his vast skills to fix a phone for one midlifer who used his vast experience to offer career advice.

It was an enlightening appointment. One I don’t wish to ever relive.

I’m so glad that I’m leaving for the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop in Ohio tonight and starting a month of travel that will take me to Ojai for spa me-time, Los Angeles for a writer’s workshop, Hawaii with my great friend, Elin, and — the piece de resistance — two weeks in Europe with my daughter on the preview launch of the brand new Viking Sea.

Of course, I will be taking pictures and sharing on social media, and writing posts and emails.

But, this time, I will also be fully present. I will participate in real conversations with real people without glancing at my phone. I will surround myself with textures and flavors and smells. I will turn the paper pages of real books. I will touch nature and savor delicious food.

I will stay connected — just not to my electronics.

We may live in the age of the Jetsons but I still want to make things with my hands and keep my feet on the ground — more like the Flintstones.

I don’t want to just experience the world virtually.

So, although I will be taking my iPhone, my iPod and my iPad, I will not spend my time searching for outlets and panicking when my battery runs low. I will put the focus on experiencing every precious moment rather than capturing it anywhere other than in my memory. iPromise.

Because, at some point, I will probably end up spending another three and a half hours in an Apple store trying to get back those photos anyway.


  1. Hi Lois I agree about unplugging but I have difficulty doing it! I’ve been trying to have a technology free day once a week – which is not easy for a social media junkie like me. I also love spending the day with my grandson each week as we just discover life through his eyes – he is 2 and just gorgeous.

  2. Exactly. I got there a couple years ago when I took a break and found that life was so much better. As you will find.

  3. Funny, I have to get to the Apple store for an iPhone issue I’m having. Now, after reading this, I’m feeling reluctant. However, personal connection that’s face to face is so very important. I just did a blog post myself about listening and communication. There’s no replacement! Also, jealous of your upcoming travels…sounds fab!

  4. I hear you. When I was in FL for 5 days I unplugged. My MacBook is dying so now I’m on a new, fast Chromebook. I want to unplug.

    I only get to stay in NJ, nothing as luxurious as you. So I’ll live vicariously through you and wait for your photos. Enjoy!

  5. I know of what you speak. I unplug. I hide. I love it. I do it when I need to. Have a great trip!

  6. Your trip sounds wonderful and two weeks with your daughter cruising will be really special (I’m a little bit jealous) and I think getting away from your phone in the process is a big bonus.

  7. I am so with you (and honestly getting better at) on the whole using our devices as tools and not “oxygen”. This, however, made me smile and remember just what I love about your perspective:
    We may live in the age of the Jetsons but I still want to make things with my hands and keep my feet on the ground — more like the Flintstones.

  8. Oh yes, we are all too connected! I had no cell reception on a recent drive through the mountain ranges of CA and I thought I was going to go insane. I need to do a digital detox!

  9. Sheryl Baron says:

    I think I will make a copy of this essay and refer to it when I cannot seem to pull myself away from my technology. I am not even good at it, but it seems the be the way everyone has a “conversation” nowadays. I always feel great when I leave the house and realize that I have forgotten to take my phone! Aren’t these things supposed to simplify our lives??? I don’t think so! 😁

  10. As I sit in bed on my laptop, I am thinking you are on to something…seriously, after BAM I will be really cutting back on my online time. It ruins my creativity, among other things.

  11. I have been working on leaving my phone in my car/purse and only opening my laptop in my office. I find I work faster in my office.
    Wow you are traveling! I am going to BAMC16. It will be my first time in Vegas.
    Travel safe!

  12. “But we need to start viewing our devices as tools and resources for making the world a better place. Not as oxygen.” That’s one of the most insightful statements I have heard in a long time. And I agree. And then I find myself in bed watching a TV show and scrolling on the phone or iPad at the same time. It’s like I’ve lost the ability to even enjoy a TV show without being connected. And for what reason. I always say there is no “blogging emergency”. I am going to try and do better about unplugging.

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