Tonawanda News

February 4, 2014

DUVALL: A gentle 'push' the world awaits you

By Eric DuVall
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — It’s the staccato zap every one of the 50 million Americans who have bought an iPhone knows all too well. A short zzz-zzz vibration, double eighth notes if my music theory teacher is reading, letting you know something or someone somewhere in the world is seeking your attention.

I had the idea a while back to track all my cellphone notifications — the news headlines, social media alerts, emails, text messages — and morph them into some sort of column. A few hours into the experiment I knew it was a fool’s errand. There’s just too much stuff to collate, curate and compile into any kind of coherent form.

But the past few days I’ve had stronger than usual reactions to several of what Apple has dubbed “push notifications” — as in they get pushed to the top of your home screen and thus to the top of your mind.

A snapshot of a few hours over the course of a few days, the mundane, the inspirational, the odd, the tragic, all delivered with the same toneless buzz.

Saturday night:

zzz-zzz: When ru coming over for dinner? (A text message from my mother, Saturday night, read at a stop light while I was in the car on my way over to her house)

zzz-zzz: Can u stop and buy whipped cream? (A second maternal text, met with a sigh: I would have driven a different way and I hate grocery stores on the weekend. Response: “sure”)

zzz-zzz: Three new emails (Trudging through the parking lot at Wegmans, buying aforementioned whipped cream. Probably spam, my internal filter notes. I’ll check it later.)

zzz-zzz: News alert: Bills WR Andre Reed has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (”That’s great! Awesome!” I exclaimed as I checked my phone pulling into my mother’s driveway for dinner. Reed is an all-time favorite Bill and his election puts a capstone on what is for my money the best football team ever assembled. I tell my mother this. She jumps up and gives me a high five.)

zzz-zzz: Two new emails (In the middle of dinner. That makes five I haven’t seen, plus the ones I only glanced at this morning. The little red number says 23, which is high. Should I check it during a meal? Sure, fine. Two Groupon offers, a work press release I don’t need and notification, you’ve been mentioned on Twitter.)

zzz-zzz: You’ve been mentioned on Twitter! (Seconds after the email notification. I knew this was coming. Mental note, turn off Twitter email notifications. But now I’m curious: What’s happening on Twitter? Tap tap tap, Twitter open and ... “Oh, cool! I won a $25 gift card for entering a Super Bowl pool on this guy’s website!” Favorite his tweet, respond with my email address so he can send me the prize. Resume dinner.)

zzz-zzz: What ru doing tonight? (Text from a friend, read after wiping hands dry while washing dishes. “No plans.”)

zzz-zzz: Want to pick us up from Brewfest at 9? We’re gonna need a DD lol (Return text from friend. “Sure.” Now I have plans: Drive my beer-buzzed friends around.)

And Sunday:

zzz-zzz: News alert (three things from CNN, two from the New York Times, I clear them without reading because I’m barely awake yet.)

zzz-zzz: News alert: Police suspect heroin cause of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. (CNN, the Times received again in my mother’s driveway, picking up the laundry I left there in order to go pick up my friends the night before. “Oh my god!” In hindsight, it’s one of those celebrity deaths I’ll remember for a lifetime. First news of it was ignored that morning when I didn’t have the patience to read the a.m. cycle.)

zzz-zzz: Four new emails. (I’m watching the Super Bowl at a noisy party but no one’s around at the moment so I guess I’ll check them. Two of my Super Bowl tweets had been favorited. Two more Groupons. Phone’s battery is at 9 percent. I must have forgotten to charge it last night. Do I still have my charger in my bag? Is there somewhere in this house I can plug into a USB that isn’t already in use by some other absent-minded millennial?)

zzz-zzz: News alert: Seattle Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII over Denver Broncos, 43-8 (”No duh, CNN. The entire world just watched it.”)

zzz-zzz: You’ve been mentioned on Twitter! (Phone back up to 60 percent, I can afford to check social media again. “You should have some good-ish news coming in a minute” Favorite the tweet from the friend running the Super Bowl pool.)

zzz-zzz: You’ve been mentioned on Twitter! (”2nd place in the Super Bowl prop bet pool: @EricRDuVall! Congrats!” Favorite that tweet, too. “Oh, sweet, I’m up $60 on the Super Bowl! I never win on this stuff.”)

So there you have it. Andre Reed to Canton. Philip Seymour Hoffman dead. I won $60. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl.

zzz-zzz ...

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.