I lost my phone. It’s been 9 hours and 32 minutes. It’s the digital detox I never meant to have. I feel weird. Like someone stole my kidney. Well that wouldn’t be so bad. At least I have two. I’m cycling through the Kubler Ross stages of grief. Denial – it has to be in my handbag. So I tip it out 12 times and sift through the rubble. It has to be here. It’s a fruitless autopsy. When it becomes clear the phone is officially missing, I start with blame. Fucking Bill Gates. He made this happen. It’s 5G. It must have infiltrated my brain and made me drop it in the Uber. It’s chemtrails. The illuminati. Them.
I transition immediately to rage. I want to yell at someone. I think that’s why Uber don’t have a contact phone number. Caps lock just isn’t doing it for me. I am furious. If I could find my phone I’d throw it. I think about it smashing on the bitumen below. Actually that’s stupid. I have hundreds of photos I never bothered backing up on the iCloud. Gone. I feel sad. I start to cry. At 3am, I’m in an Airbnb in Marrrickille. I think about calling someone for help, but I realise I don’t have a phone, and I don’t know anyone’s number. Oh God. I’m so vulnerable. And bored. What if I need Uber eats, or to measure my steps? I’m phone-less. I’m left to my own devices. Oh god, I don’t have any devices.
Then I’m at the airport. How do you even check in without an electronic boarding pass on your phone? I have to go speak to the girl at the check in – show my licence and get a boarding pass, which feels a bit non COVID Safe.
Here at the airport I am a phoneless loser just left to sit. I don’t have anything to do except be. It’s weird. I haven’t had to sit and ‘be’ in public for ages. I actually forgot how to do it. Generally I am scrolling through my emails and my Facebook feed. It’s what we do now to allay the discomfort of sitting in public. People used to read the paper or New Idea. Or talk to each other. Shit, what if someone wants to talk to me? I move on to bargaining. I promise I’ll always put my phone back in my bag. I won’t fall asleep in the Uber. I’ll use a taxi next time. I’ll be home by midnight. I won’t drink so much wine.
I watch other people fingering their phones and I think ‘Look at you, all dependent on your phones! You can’t just ‘be’ like me’. I’m jealous. When I get on the plane I can’t use the in-flight entertainment. I just have to sit and look at the food tray that won’t have any food on it because COVID took away our in-flight snacks.
It’s been two days now. I am home. I’ve discovered you can live without a mobile. I think I reach for it every ten minutes to do something, like pay a bill, or text the kids, or check my emails. I hadn’t realised till now just how dependent I had become. I always have a go at young people for being too technology dependent, but I’m probably worse.
Just when I’ve made peace with my loss I get a message from Uber. They have my phone. Ahmed was sleeping all day so he hadn’t answered my cries for help on the Uber app. So in just 24 hours my iPhone and I will be re-united.
Wow, I had almost reached acceptance.
Instead, I have to accept something harder. That I, like many people have formed an unhealthy dependence on technology. I have been thinking lately about writing on the harms of AI, but I realised it’s too late – I’m already indoctrinated.
I’ve just installed a new app, it’s called Find my Life.