The gut clench, the panicked expression, hands flailing out on the tram seats next to me. This was my body’s immediate and, probably rather embarrassing, reaction to realising I’d left work on a Friday night with my phone still in the building and not on my person, in my jeans pocket, where it always is, carving out a white rectangle in the denim from it always being there (I need new jeans). I swear I had the same reaction to not having access to my phone as people do when they’re about to be hit by a car, or that Kevin’s mum has on the plane when she realises he’s Home Alone and she is officially the worst character in a John Hughes film ever. I’m not sure what I expected to happen if I’d yelled out “phone!” on the tram. Maybe people would have crowded around me, offering their condolences or beverages or to call the local police station for me, or insisting I sit down in fear that I might faint from shock. My phone, my poor, poor phone.
If you’re expecting a groundbreaking piece of writing on society’s addiction to technology, I hate to tell you that as it turns out, I am the personification of addiction to technology. Seriously, Banksy should spray my silhouette onto buildings, phone in hand. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly phone-reliant (I pride myself on never having taken a solo selfie) but I do enjoy the power that comes with having the entire knowledge of the universe several Google-y clicks away in my pocket. It’s how I keep up with current events, like what Kendall Jenner has been up to (I kid, I kid…). So after around 20 minutes of digging to the bottom of my old carpet bag (I need a new bag) and willing it not to be true, I discovered no phone and instead came across my red headphones. Headphones, but no device to play my music on for my walk home! Has there ever been a sadder thing happen in all the world?! The pathetic irony of my situation aside, I got up and walked off the tram – life goes on – and stood on the platform to decide what my next move should be.
Everyone would be long gone from work by now, there was no going back, no matter how tightly I closed my eyes and wished the situation would magically resolve itself (Phone! You were in my hand all along!). But I knew that it’s how you react to a situation such as this that defines you as a person. I was not going to be one of those people who became grief-stricken over not having a phone. Oh no! I love camping for goodness sake. I can go a day without my phone! I am THAT person! Despite the fact that I concluded I’d rather be lost in the blistering heat of the Sahara WITH my phone (thank you Google Maps) than be without it 30 minutes from my house, I took a deep breath and accepted that I could go home now as planned and simply pick the phone up tomorrow afternoon. No biggy.
I set off on my music-less walk, constantly rubbing my hand against my pocket, annoyed that my RunKeeper app wasn’t tracking my fitness (dear God, how will I know how many calories I’ve burned?!) and wondering about the hundreds of people who might be texting, Whatsapp-ing, Facebook messaging me (I had a grand total of 2 messages when I finally retrieved my phone, one being from my tech-savvy grandmother). I tried to enjoy the walk, the fresh air, the unconnected-ness of the experience. If I squinted my eyes really hard at the street lamps, they almost resembled Instagram filters…of course I’m joking, I didn’t do that. I walked home and into my house and I survived. I used my laptop to keep in touch with my friends for the rest of the evening and I had a nice long lie the next day due to lack of an alarm clock, before heading back to work to collect my phone – God bless you Saturday shift workers!
I didn’t NEED the phone, I just wanted it real bad and unfortunately, had the life-changing realisation that without it I turned into a blubbering idiot with no Google to show me the way and no Facebook to mindlessly scroll through. Back in the days when I owned roller skates and played in the park and my just-for-show pockets were stitched up because no ten year old could have or should have anything to put in them, surely I wasn’t so dependent on that little breakable thing in my pocket to have fun? Or even just to get by in daily life?
I picked up my phone the next day and I deleted any app that I knew I would look at more than once in a day. I’ve started putting my phone on airplane mode and shoving it to the very bottom of my messy bag so I no longer look at it every fifteen seconds.