On a plane trip across the country, one of the little things I notice every time the plane lands is the immediate pull of the cell phone, the network, the lure of connectivity, or maybe, the network calling all its servants back to waking connected status. I feel the pull in my pocket or in the seat pocket in front of me, of a device that wants to be on, to be lighting up with notifications alerting me to all I've missed in the meantime. Of course, some people don't wait until the plane lands and pulls off the runway; you can hear a message notification from a few rows up or back, someone who just couldn't wait at 500 feet, or, probably, whose phone has been on the whole time.
But the idea that we're 'eager to see what we've missed' when we reconnect is not exactly what I had in mind. There's something existential going on, something of people returning to life and being validated as children might, like being gifted as if on Christmas morning with little packages with shiny bows and bright wrapping paper. "Ring-ring-ring" goes the passenger's phone in seat 18C, while the person next to me is rewarded with the comforting sound of chimes, and 23A gets 3 "swooshes" in a row. And then another. And then another. And two more, while the man sitting the next row up turns around and speaks dryly for everyone else who's been listening to this impressive cascade..."Back to work!"
As the plane rolls forward and turns toward the gates, I try to focus on the sky, the runway, where I've been and where I'm going for a few moments before I, too, give in to the impulse to switch off airplane mode and see how much of myself I've missed. I don't last long.