A slightly unexpected post on phones

My boyfriend texted me from his office Christmas dinner to say that his phone was about to die. I wonder how we coped before mobiles. I know I’m super nervous but I felt my stomach clench, a little, and a flurry of panic.

I remember my first mobile phone. I was 18 and just starting university. It was the bank bribe (should have opted for a rail card) and shaped like a brick. I was a little wary of using it. The guy I was going out with at the time refused to have one. At that point, it was more optional. Within a few months, however, I had forgotten what being phoneless felt like.

Sometimes I crave for a space where there are no pings and buzzes and vibrating chimes. Where I do not feel compelled to reach for my phone, every hour, to see what’s going on.

In the middle of the night when it’s lonely and I can message a friend, or when a quick call can result in an evening of unexpected fun, or when I get a text that makes me smile, the sentiment is very different. I feel that my phone is a wonderful thing.

I wonder if that is healthy?

I suspect it is not. The flurry of panic smacks of dependency. There are a lot of feelings that can be avoided when you think you have permanent access to someone else.

I wonder why this debate hasn’t been resolved. I could have written this post a few years ago and the sentiment would have been the same.

It is fascinating to watch the introduction of a new technology. To be on the cusp of before and after. To remember, just, what it felt like when you had to plan in advance, or go and see someone, or manage the voices in your head. To realise that you are, in some ways, in an enviable position: you only fully appreciate the value of something if has not always been around.

Maybe the cause of the confusion is simply that. Maybe with every big leap, there comes an awareness that things have fundamentally shifted and you can’t easily go back.

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One response to “A slightly unexpected post on phones

  1. My favourite consequence of mobiles is the concept of approximeeting. Used to be, if you wanted to see someone you arranged a time and a place (the Red Lion by the fire on Friday at 9″). Now you just both agree to drift into town at about the same time and ring when you’re there. I think it may have destroyed all concept of punctuality but it sure makes it easier to see people.

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