On NYC & Smartphone Withdrawal

Jenna Wortham for the NYT, on the lack of cell phone service in the wake of Hurricane Sandy:

While Hurricane Sandy left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers without electricity or heat, the loss of one utility left some especially bewildered: cellphone service.

“Not having hot water is one thing,” said Kartik Sankar, 29, a technology consultant who lives in the East Village. “But not having a phone? Forget about it.”

With only sporadic access to text messaging, Facebook or even landline phone calls, Mr. Sankar and others like him in Manhattan’s no-power zone quickly cobbled together more primitive systems for passing along information and arranging when and where to meet, so they could take comfort in each other’s company in the dark.

On the scale of hardships suffered in the storm and its aftermath, these were more like minor annoyances. But the experience of being suddenly smartphoneless caused some to realize just how dependent on the technology they had become.

Our lives live in our pockets. I feel naked without my iPhone, and panic when I think I’ve misplaced or forgotten it. And I mean this just in the scope of everyday life -- I can only imagine how vital my phone would become in the event of a disaster.

(via Stephen Hackett)