Monday, April 1, 2024

All The Things My Watch Does Not Do

I've begun wearing a watch again.  I stopped, two decades ago, because I could no longer see the point to wearing a watch.  As all folks did at the time, I had gotten myself one-a-them newfangled cellphones, and my phone told time.  Right there on the front of my Nokia, there was the time.  So I had a pocket watch, and it also made calls.

And then texts.  And then, my phone started to be able to do everything.  Photos, videos, and apps upon apps upon apps.  

The idea of a straightforward timepiece...or even one of the chunky multifunction Casios that geeked along on my wrist during the eighties and nineties?  Why bother?  A watch had never seemed more superfluous.  I stopped wearing it.

Then, back in August, my father died.  On that day, sitting by his cooling body and waiting for the mortuary folks to arrive, my eyes lit upon his watch. 

"Oh," I thought. "I should hang on to that."  So before they arrived to take his remains away, I took his old Timex, and placed it upon my wrist.  It has remained there since.

What it does is tell the time, and remind me of Dad.  It has one control, a little twisty knob on the side.  Push it in, and the watchface illuminates in soft green light.  Pull it out, give a twist, and you can set the time.  It ticks, a high gentle percussion of metal on metal, as tiny cogs and gears do their work.  That's about it.

But there are lots of things it does not do.

It does not nudge me with haptics to notify me of texts, or of news, or to get me to think about anything some semi-sentient algorithm thinks I should be thinking about right now.

It does not track my heart rate, or my blood pressure, or my biorhythms, and does not report said data to a large corporation.

It does not know my location, nor can it report said location to a large corporation. 

It does not need charging, not ever, although the little battery within does need to be replaced every year or so.

It does not require me to have anything else.  It does not require WiFi, or a signal, or a connection. It is complete, in and of itself.

It does not require me to lie about having read terms of service.

It does not ever need an update, unless by "update" you mean twiddling that little knob to correct the time.

It does not distract me from the world around me.

It does not encourage me to take out my phone, or make me think about my phone, or add in the slightest to the gnawing Skinnerian itch that we all now feel. 

Again, all it does is tell the time. I find there's a pleasure in that simpleness, and a deeper pleasure still in being a little freer from the chattering, inescapable distractions that are inexorably driving us all a little insane.   

Sometimes, the greater joy lies in what is not done.