EDITORIAL: Living my life on vibrate

Friends, I’m working from home today. I’m guessing that comes as no surprise. If you’re working, you’re either working from home or you’re doing something that can’t be done from home. We’re all making our way through this bizarre time as well as we can. We’re learning new skills, teaching our kids things we thought we’d forgotten, and doing the same things we did before in completely new ways.

For me, that means a life lived on vibrate.

What’s my ringtone again?

Before this all started, I actually had a fairly private workspace. I enjoyed the luxury of keeping the volume up on my computer and my phone, and I took advantage of that to full effect. I set custom reminder tones, text tones and ringtones so that I didn’t have to look at any of my devices to know who was trying to reach me. To anyone else in the space it seemed like cacophony but since it was just me, there was no reason to mute.

Well, now I work at home and there are others in my space. They don’t keep the same hours as I do and they have work to do, too. So everything’s gone on mute and vibrate. I haven’t switched out my notoriously clicky keyboard, not just yet, but I have a feeling that’s coming. After all, each of us has to live together and get along in a relatively confined space without a lot of opportunity to get outside and let the sun bake off all of the stress.

And how’s that working out?

Well, it’s been an adjustment. I actually have missed a few calls because I didn’t notice the vibration. I put my phone on a wireless charging stand so it’s staring right at me and I can get a visual cue when an audio one didn’t do. I’ve been paying more attention to Windows’ notification center, something I considered a minor annoyance before. Now it tells me if I’ve missed an email. Remind me again why Outlook can’t just put a badge on the taskbar again?

Yeah, I know I’m the last guy to do this.

I have many friends of the millennial persuasion who put their phones on vibrate the day they get them and don’t turn them off. But they don’t ever let those phones get more than a few inches from them anyway. Back in the days when we all went to dinner, it was common to see tables covered in phones, with their owners nervously staring at them and straining to hear the gentle buzz of the vibration motor.

But that was never me. I tried to distance myself from my devices in my off hours, and that meant putting my phone on the charger in the other room. It also meant turning the ringer back on so I would know if someone contacted me.

All that protocol has gone out the window. I have enough juice to make it through the day so I’m doing it all millennial style. The phone is in my line of sight if I’m awake and I’m paying attention every time it lights up. Frankly it’s exhausting.

But then, as I said, plenty of other folks do it this way. I’m the last holdout, most likely.

When this is all done…

Well, at least I’ll know that I am capable of living a life on vibrate if I want to. But realistically, I won’t want to. I miss those audio cues, the pervasive ones I can only get when I’m all alone and there’s no one else to bother. I’ll turn everything on full blast and enjoy the ride. What about you?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.