You used to be able to hold a phone between your ear and shoulder with relative ease and talk for hours to someone important in your life. Over the years, those phones went away, and now we’re left with a thin rectangle that’s mostly just the screen, and you have to crook your neck a bit to squeeze it between your cheek and upper arm.
The other day I bought an extension to my phone, which basically attaches what looks like an old phone receiver into my smartphone. It’s big and bulky, and would never fit in my pocket. But when I’m at home, I talk to my friends and family with this curved piece of plastic wedged onto my ear. The lower end of this thing pushes into my chin, which puts the microphone directly beneath my mouth; directly below that there was a spiraled-up cord — the one that would so often get tangled on old phones and never get untangled, which almost signified how long the phone — and the house — had existed.
Anyway, when this gimmicky device is nudged into my face, I feel something substantive there. Without it, my phone feels more like a walkie-talkie — like a device to communicate curt messages, not a device that connects me to loved ones. But this nostalgic piece of plastic makes me imagine the metaphor I used to imagine when I talked on the phone: I’d think about a long piece of string attaching my phone to theirs, physically connected me to them. Sometimes I’d tug on the cord, or at least play with it, to feel a little more connected, causing it to tangle just a bit more.