When your phone forgets you

I believe my iPhone has left me. Pack up its face-ID functionality and jumped ship. It no longer recognizes me, no longer sees me as a trusted friend. I have become persona non grata, an ex-friend. What did I do? Can we talk about this? You can’t just abandon me (yes, even my iPhone knows that I have abandonment issues) with no explanation, no warning.

When electronic things stop working, I do what every good wanna-be geek does these days, and knocked on the door of YouTube. Sure enough, there was a plethora of articles about what happens when your face recognition function lays down on the job. It seems to be something called the “dot projector” that has failed, probably a teeny tiny little cable inside. According to more than one DIY article I found, the dot projector cannot be fixed.

So. The facial recognition feature is not working on my iPhone. This means that when I “wake” the phone, I will have to input my passcode to unlock it. With the facial recognition working, which it did for many months, the phone saw my beautiful face and unlocked automatically. The phone works in every other way, including the unlikely occasion that I might make or receive an actual phone call. As opposed to taking pictures, playing music, or using some app. This is a first-world problem fo’ sho’. Of course this is wreaking havoc with my perfectionism, and I am trying very hard not to have it preoccupy me for the entire day. The only thing I will indulge is checking to see when I purchased the bloody device so that if a warranty remains valid, I will order a new phone. If not, I will input the passcode, as I had to do with every other phone I’ve owned since the dawn of wireless phone plans.

But…the dang phone should work! All of its features and pieces and parts should work. Dammit.

I am in a bit of a snarky mood this morning, regardless of my iPhone malfunction. Yesterday, the news was all a-flutter talking about how the Vice-President had made some “awkward” comments on an interview lately. I was interested to see what that involved, si I sat up and paid attention to story. She was being interviewed by Lester Holt, who is a long-time news anchor on one of the major networks (CBS, I think), and he was asking her about why she’d not been to visit the U.S. Southern border, despite making strong comments directed to immigrants to “not come” to the U.S. . When Lester Holt challenged her with, “But you have not been there.” – not once, but twice – Harris seemed to become somewhat annoyed. She replied, curtly, “I haven’t been to Europe, either.” Possibly to cover the tightness in her voice, the Vice-President chuckled rather sardonically. “I don’t know where you’re trying to go with this,” she told Holt.

Oh. My. God. You would have sworn she had taken a shit right there on camera. The pundits went nuts with this, claiming that even the White House staff was startled, surprised, confused by the interview response. There was talk of her needing to be better prepared for questions like that, and what she SHOULD have said, and how she COULD have handled things better. Hmmm.

I wasn’t confused by her answer, and didn’t see it as inadequate. The interviewer was trying to slap her hand a bit pointing out that she had told a foreign nation not to allow immigrants to attempt entering the U.S. – “don’t come,” she said. The implication, however, was that she was not allowed to reject the immigrants because she had not been to personally visit their country. I’m not sure where that rule came from, but she wasn’t having any of it, hence the sarcastic “but I haven’t been to Europe, either” rejoinder.

The interchange between the VP and Lester Holt is inconsequential to me, and news interviewers have always tried tripping up politicians and public figures on their responses. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the amount of attention paid to this post-interview, and the judgement that she had screwed up. I’m not sure exactly what she had screwed up, but last time I checked, she was the VP and these critics were news folk. Those occupations are not equivalent.

She did what she was sent there to do – tell immigrants not to come here. There have already been snide remarks about the exhausting number of immigrants crossing the Southern border because the Biden-Harris administration has been tacitly welcoming, as opposed to TFG (The Former Guy). So, what do people want – she came right out in front and said, clearly and unambiguously, “don’t come”. She went on to make the point that we can’t just look at the numbers of people who are trying to enter the U.S. without looking at why they are so desperate t o risk their lives and their children’s lives to come. So please explain to me where her comments were “awkward” or “inadequate”.

So. There. Moment of snarkiness has passed, I think. I’m now listening to some RNC Congressional drone going on and on about support for TFG. This fine gentleman is African-American, so of course he must represent and defend and and all Black people who may support TFG. I don’t care much for this guy, for his position, or what he has to say. I don’t have much respect for his erudite and effusive responses. But he was correct that he can support who and whatever he wants to support…that’s America. That’s democracy. So, there’s no rule that says Black people cannot support TFG. He’s not the only person of color that is carrying the torch for the previous administration, so go figure. Just because I don’t agree with him or the others is of little significance.

Our right, as people of color, to self-differentiate should not be confusing to anyone. When Ronald Reagan was running for his second term in the 80s, I was annoyed to discover there were GLBT folks who supported him. The country was in the middle of the AIDS crisis, and hundreds of thousands of gay men had died before Reagan even used the words HIV or AIDS in public commentary. He could not be counted as a supporter of the CDC as they raced to figure out what the heck was going on with this disease. Anthony Fauci was a part of this effort, back when he had far less grey hair. I sometimes wonder if that legacy secretly caused so much of the previous administration’s resistance toward him.

Regardless of all this, it’s all just more examples of implicit – and explicit – biases at work. I am not arguing for softening criticism of public officials just because I like them, or because it’s a woman, or in some cases a person of color. They are still accountable to the public for what they do on our behalf, and I understand that. But let’s stick to the facts, please, and refrain from being the tone police and the “coulda shoulda woulda” agents of status quo. Kamala Harris had never said “don’t come” there would have been an outcry for her failure to say it. She did say it, and now there’s an outcry that well, she said it, but…but…she’s never been there. Huh?

How about that iPhone? I wonder if I can find some other way to repair that myself…there’s got to be a way…will go and search YouTube and the interwebz for more info later. But how could that just all of a sudden stop working? Hmmmmm….

Anyway, my hyperactive bladder is a tiny bit less hyper but remains active, which I think is a good thing. Kidneys still working, no infection, no pain. Seems like I will live to fight another day. Better than not having facial recognition on your iPhone, I suppose.

So, thinking more about my initial entry point, of the criticism leveled at VP Harris. People are comfortable with perfectionism. Collectively, we have little tolerance for mistakes. When I worked in a corporate environment, I felt entirely traumatized by the need to be perfect, the need to not deviate significantly from the “performance standard”. When I protested that perfectionism was expected, they countered with systemic responses that pointed out how I was the only one having a problem with the standards, and how there was a lot of leeway between achieving a perfect score and the minimum required for employment, but big ole me couldn’t even make the minimum. Gee, Ann – what’s going on with YOU? You were doing well before now…what’s changed?

Oh, let’s see…mother died. She’s been living within the boundaries of my life for nearly five years now, no big deal. Got a few health issues going on, which I’ve told everyone about, but…hey, nothing to write home about. What’s up with y’all?

There is no sympathy, empathy, compassion, or understanding. What have you done for me lately? This is business, you seem like a great person, too bad you’re having a hard time…we’ll miss you. Yeah, I’ll bet they did miss me. I didn’t play the game correctly, because as I’ve said before, this wasn’t a game to me. It was a game to them, like Monopoly or Life – roll the dice, move the prescribed number of spaces, take your chances. Sometimes you don’t collect the $200 when you pass GO, but don’t worry, you’ve got another chance coming up so keep going.

Yeah, keep going. Pray that you don’t land on property you don’t own and owe a ton of rent, because since the last time you’ve been there they’ve improved it and put up a hotel. They’ve also managed to buy up Park Place, and they’re starting to put houses on that one already. So not only do you not have $200 from the last time you passed GO, you also have to walk the line as you go around the board this time, no matter how well you’d been doing before these last couple of rounds.

That’s a game. Monopoly, and Life are board games where the money is different colors and your identity is something ridiculously small and culturally neutral and doesn’t affect anyone. But that’s not how real life works, and you can be penalized in a variety of ways that means you don’t collect your $200 for passing GO. You may not pass GO at all. You may be stuck in jail, and have rolls that put you back in jail or on someone else’s property that demands a high rental fee…which you can’t pay. The Game of Life requires you to move backward at various points, depending on the outcome of your dice roll.

Games. Games people play. There was a song about that, in the 70s I think.

Oh the games people play now

Every night and every day now

Never meaning what they say now

Never saying what they mean

Never meaning what they say, never saying what they mean. I suppose this is where the arguments against political correctness began, accusing people of never saying what they mean in favor of political correctness.

Some of that is probably true, but my version of political correctness is only to do no harm. I was just watching a video on someone who is diagnosed with Turner Syndrome, which is a chromosal irregularity. It affects females by eliminating, in part or whole, the X-chromosome as the fetus develops. Some of the symptoms include wide spaced eyes that turn down on the side closest to the ears, short stature, ovarian failure, wide spaced breasts. The subject of the video spoke very candidly about sexual identity and even addiction. Pronouns were discussed, and the subject indicated a preference for “they/them” rather than “she/her” even though many would describe her in feminine terms. They also identified as having addictive personality traits, with a history of substance abuse. The substance abuse was not caused or impacted by Turner Syndrome, but drugs and alcoholo offered coping mechanisms for the extreme psychological and emotional discomfort the condition inspires. Dysphoria is a real thing, and in the case of Turner Syndrome folks, it’s not so much identification with a different gender but feeling as though they have no gender at all, or at least it’s fluid.

I have never been gender dysphoric, so I cannot truly relate to that. I can, however, relate to not feeling as though you belong in your own skin, as though you don’t know exactly who you are or how others experience you. If addressing someone with pronouns that feel more comfortable to them is what makes them feel a little more comfortable in their skin, I don’t call that political correctness. I call that respect and compassion. It costs me nothing, and harms nothing. Why would I have any problem with doing that?

But ice again, we are collectively far more comfortable with conformity and perfectionism than with diversity and self-differentiation. Conformity, following the rules, having nothing outside the confines of a predetermined area (like the bell-shaped curve). If we know how far things might go, and the range is predetermined (either artificially or naturally) then we can be very smart and maintain control of all the … dots, data points, people if that’s what we’re measuring. Control. That’s where a lot of our navigational efforts lead, to control. One definition of control is: the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

And there’s that word again – power. We all crave it, because when we don’t have it, we control nothing, and that’s just not comfortable. Most animals want to be free, no matter how good their life situations might be. I’m not sure, but humans may be the only animals with an element of judgement about the conditions of freedom. Sometimes the judgement is rooted in practical considerations, like trying to adjudicate median behavioral standards for millions of people. Sometimes, however, they are merely implicit bias rendered by systems created from implicit bias that exact biased outcomes. The biased outcome is where social movements begin.

An aside…there is a poltergeist in this apartment. A few minutes ago, I was looking for my baseball cap, the pale green one that I’ve been wearing lately. I could not find it ANYWHERE, despite looking for it EVERYWHERE. I went to usual places and unusual places. I began to insert false memories about what I had probably done with it when I took it off yesterday. Nothing. So, I gave up and found another baseball cap, a blue denim-looking one, and smacked that on top of my unruly mane. That was about 45 minutes ago, and I’ve been sitting here writing during that time.

I just moved a bag on the bed, one that has been sitting here but I could swear had been jostled slightly in my previous search for the cap, and there…looking innocent and nonplussed…was the pale green baseball cap. It was not there earlier. I looked there, and it was not there. I feel there is some gremlin of a spirit laughing hysterically right about now, maybe a whole army of them, chortling at watching me run around looking for the damned thing. Little shits.

So, back to power. I suppose the issue of power is constant in the human condition. If you have it, you want more of it. If you don’t have it, you definitely want more of it. In general, however, I still feel that power is an illusion. Nobody can force another person to do anything they don’t want to do, without cheating a little bit. You can probably get compliance with your orders if you introduce some other leverage to tilt the scale – threaten their lives, have other people involved to force the outcome you desire. In the end, however, if the “victim” doesn’t cooperate, you get nothing. The victim may not have a viable choice, but they still have a choice in whether or not they comply with what you’re demanding.

Sometimes I wonder how much sense of choice I could maintain if faced with a life-defining situation. If threatened with a gun or knife wielded by a perpetrator who demanded compliance, would I have do what they demanded to save my life? If faced with a likely rape, would I surrender to save my life? If another person was threatened, would I sacrifice, or at least risk, my life to spare theirs? I would love to believe that I would make the correct and noble choices in all of those scenarios, that I could enact a scene from a television drama or novel and tell a robber or rapist to go ahead and shoot me because I will never comply with their demands. I would love to believe that, but I’m really not quite sure.

In the moment of crisis, most of us are going to do whatever is necessary to preserve our lives. We are going to act in our own best interest, as the limbic brain takes over and preaches a nonverbal mantra of survival. The rational mind is taking a back seat to the entire scene at that moment, and many people describe being literally paralyzed with fear. Until you have been in that situation, you cannot judge it. I’ve heard that if you are in a life-threatening situation, you do what you feel like you have to do, including surrender. If you manage to survive that experience, whatever you did was the absolute right thing because you are still alive.

I suppose my irrational sense of romance, or idealism, or something keeps me in a state of wonder about how I might fare in a life-threatening situation. Wondering if when put to the test, I would have any measure of courage or bravery or intuition that might cause me to do the noble thing, or even the smartest thing. There have been times when I spoke out, knowing that I put myself at risk of at least verbal pushback. There have been other times, perhaps even more often, when I have shied away from the confrontation. I struggle with accepting that as a self-preservation mechanism, or cowardice. I don’t like the cowardice answer.

Sometimes I do believe I’m a coward, swallowing what I might want to say because I know I’m going to be received badly, negatively, that response may be adversarial. A lot of people believe that I enjoy adversarial interaction, and I do not. In a direct confrontation, I sometimes do not process quickly enough to respond effectively, and that is very frustrating. I generally berate myself as being a coward and not capable of standing my ground, and that beat down is a gift that keeps on giving. I can rehash and replay the interaction days, weeks, years later where my responses are ideal.

And there’s the control issue again. If people would just act right, I wouldn’t have to get all belligerent and stuff. But I can’t make them act right anymore than I can make them act wrong. When the confrontation is raging, I think I just check out. See ya! I don’t know exactly where that comes from, but I suspect it has something to do with some battles that raged in my family of origin. Being forced to back down as a child is still with me, and I always backed down…because I was a child. I was a child who was up against a foe who was larger than life, meaner than any monster under my bed, in control of aspects of my life that I could not do without…like food and water and clothes. What if she withheld any of that because I wouldn’t back down? I was too afraid to find out.

I suppose I feel that I am too easily manipulated, too quick to retreat from a confrontation about a matter of principle, far too speedy at making determinations that everyone else has power that exceeds my own. It’s always been like that. Sometimes I believe it’s true, that I have no appreciable power in any system on the face of the Earth. Every once in a while, though, I come away clean.

There was a question in my Beloved Conversations course that I was supposed to direct to my critical friend, confidante in the learning. The question for them was “When have you seen me demonstrate that I was free?” That one really seemed important. My critical friend’s answer was not a total surprise to me, but I was surprised that anyone else could see it in me. Her answer was that when I am confident and prepared and sure of my subject matter or content, I seem free of fear. I am not worried about negative pushback, or resistance, or difficult questions. That’s how I feel, in general – when I”m feeling competent, I am not afraid. It does not occur to me that trash talk or resistance will affect me appreciably.

A lot of the occasions when I feel that degree of confidence in my competence, I feel that I am in the company of friends and people who are invested in my success, or at least not dedicated to my failure. I draw on their belief in me, their love for me, their confidence in me. When that element is not present, I will frequently become bogged down in my own doubts. I don’t understand what that’s about, but I wish it wasn’t a reality.

So, today is Thursday, one more day until the weekend. It looks to be raining outside, but I still have to wrestle the canine outside for her morning constitutional. I will mention here that I have still been a bit preoccupied by the iPhone face recognition problem, so I shut the who thing down, power off, made it play dead. It crossed my mind that one of the golden rules of IT is when something isn’t doin’ right, turn it off and turn it back on. That clears up all kinds of errors that seemed insurmountable. I actually forgot that I had done that for the better part of an hour. When I remembered that it was powered off, I figured I should go ahead and power it up, just in case I had a call from someone offering me the dream job of all time.

When I got the phone all powered up, I thought I should see if the facial recognition issue had been somehow miraculously resolved. To my amazement, it worked just fine. I was able to scan my face successfully, and that was saved to the phone with no problem. It’s working flawlessly.

So, when in doubt, don’t panic and don’t ever attempt to make an electronic device think like you do. Also, don’t overthink and demand immediate resolution. Had I proceeded with attempting to make the hack fix I first saw on YouTube, I would have probably ruined the device entirely. So…just leave things alone. There was no rush in this case, so I had no reason to manifest a sense of extreme emergency. When that time comes, I hope it’s an urgency for something a bit more impactful than facial recognition on my iPhone.

Balance, what a beautiful choice.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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