Unplugged: Losing Your Smartphone in an Unfamiliar City

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We all know the feeling -- the creeping anxiety, the nausea, the existential angst -- that accompanies the loss of a smartphone, especially in our highly connected age. How else will we jabber incessantly, respond too promptly to emails, and listen to our favorite jams on the fly? While in San Francisco, GigaOm writer Matthew Ingram found himself locked out of his precious iPhone.

It was painful because suddenly I was disconnected. I don't mean that I couldn't make phone calls (in fact, that was the part about the phone I missed the least), but I couldn't look up where I was in Google Maps, or find out where I was going, or measure how long it was going to take me (I was trying to get to the Apple store, so they could help me fix the phone, which suddenly started asking me for a passcode, even though I hadn't set one). Particularly in an unfamiliar city, this kind of tool is hugely useful -- and even in my home city, I use it all the time.

But it was more than just that. I couldn't take photos of my surroundings, which is another thing I like to do with the iPhone as my main camera. I like to snap photos, upload them to Flickr or Facebook -- and share them with Instagram -- a service that posts your photos to a stream your friends can follow and comment on, but also automatically cross-posts them to other services as well, including Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and Tumblr.

Ingram languished in the absence of the connectivity, rather than the utility, afforded to to him by his smartphone.

Read the full story at GigaOm.

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Jared Keller is a former associate editor for The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire and has also written for Lapham's Quarterly's Deja Vu blog, National Journal's The Hotline, Boston's Weekly Dig, and Preservation magazine. 

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