Let’s call this an involuntary experiment. When my parents picked me up from the airport after my plane had landed late, I jumped into their car and threw my phone into the “pocket” in the door. It’s not a pocket, but I can’t think of a better term. It’s a holding space for a water bottles and papers or whatever else you want to put away on the road.
I was just ever so slightly aggravated about the delay and the rudeness of some people on the plane. Fed up I picked the first place to deposit my phone and that was it.
Naturally I forgot it there when I got out of the car and continued to forget that I had left it there until bedtime. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it then also hadn’t occurred to me that my dad would be working the next day, likely getting up early and taking the car to get to work.
In the morning the slight thud of the door woke me to the fact of his departure. And with him my phone would be gone for the entire day.
Now, let me inject here that I am not married to my phone. I look at it more sometimes than there is a need to, but I don’t use it too much and I can sit through any given meal, especially in a restaurant, without feeling the need to check my phone even once.
I text, I receive calls sporadically (especially when applying for jobs), I play a game, check my Twitter feed and emails. Usually I spent a few minutes on that in the morning, then during lunch and again in the evening.
Since I was visiting Berlin this weekend with plans to meet friends and schedule several other things in, I kinda needed it a little more than usual. What a pain.
I ended up taking my mother’s phone for part of the day, which turned out to be a good thing, because I was at the hairdresser, but also meeting a friend and my brother for lunch. The hairdresser took longer than expected, which was something I needed to let them know.
Needless to say that I am unfamiliar with my Mom’s phone, so I basically just stuck to texting my brother to keep him updated and that was that. No email, no WhatsApp, no nothing. I was just ever so slightly annoyed with myself. Stupid phone.
For most of the day it wasn’t actually much of a problem and since I received neither emails nor calls or texts on the phone, I wasn’t much bothered. I did miss a message on WhatsApp, which I only got around to dealing with at 3am when I came home after an evening out.
There came only one point that day, when I had to worry. I was at my brother’s place in the evening and we were supposed to show up at 8pm. Customarily I’m always early when we have one of those evenings, usually as much as an hour early. Not that evening, though. I ended up being unusually late for my standards and arrived at 7.45pm.
I rung his door bell and there was no answer. Nobody home. I couldn’t quite believe it and tried it a few more times. I had neither my phone nor my mother’s. I didn’t think I’d need it. It’s actually somewhat liberating not to have a phone with you 24/7.
But I hadn’t expected that my brother wouldn’t be there. I could not text him or call him, I could only sit down on the stairs and wait. He’d arrive eventually, I was quite certain of that, figuring he was probably late on running some errands.
Then some of the others arrived and he still wasn’t there. I waited less than ten minutes all up, but being unable to simply get in touch with him for that time bothered me more than I liked.
The lot of us only waited for another minute before he arrived. He hadn’t realized that I still didn’t have my phone, which is why he hadn’t been worried about my early arrival. Hardly his fault.
When we went out later on, I was quite happy not to have to worry about my phone in my pockets. But going home by myself late at night it would’ve made me feel a little safer. I don’t think I’d go out without my phone in London.
You know that I advocate unplugging every now and then, which includes the use of a mobile phone. Coming home in the evenings, I tend to leave my phone on my desk or even in my pocket and don’t look at it until I go to bed. But there is obviously a difference between unplugging willingly or involuntarily.
At the end of the day it wasn’t a great loss. It worried me twice that day that I didn’t have a phone, the first time more than the second time. I can take care of myself and I grabbed my umbrella for reassurance. But my phone would also have provided some more light in the darkness, which is quite useful.
I am ever so glad that my current job does not require me to have a work mobile phone and be contactable for 12 hours every day or more. I don’t ever want a job like that.
If I’m not expecting calls or emails, I don’t care where my phone is either. But if I do need my phone on me, it better be charged and in working order.
We’ve managed without mobile phones for almost the entirety of human history, if we managed well is one thing and we might have managed better at times with the technology in place centuries ago. Who knows? Now we’re as connected as we could be and it’s not always a blessing.
I’d much rather forget about my phone for an entire day than be unable to live without it.