I drifted in and out of sleep. The alarm hadn’t gone off so there was still time to get more rest. Some time later I wake up, happy with myself that I’m rested enough to actually beat the alarm. I roll over to check the time only to realize that my phone was completely dead despite being plugged in. I had slept in to 2pm!
I tried to call people who would be waiting. I couldn’t. Thank god for Facebook messenger. Although today was a bit of a write off as I had to scramble to correct for lying in and make the most of what’s left of the day I was given an opportunity to experience how much I relied on the phone.
First person I was meeting had moved to a café and was working on other stuff. He told me the place. Second one was still in the agreed place working on code. I set off down the road to where the ranges of cafes were. I then casually put my hand in my pocket to remind myself which one by checking the chat history. I was reinstated with panic and annoyance when I remembered the phone was dead resulting in me walking in and out of each café until I saw him.
For the rest of the day, I functioned on half power. I couldn’t reply to emails on tube journeys. My phone also has a python code interpreter so as you can guess I couldn’t tweak any code either. Walking was accompanied with street sounds. Usually, I listen to a book on economics, stats or history of start-ups through the Audible app. Checking calendar was also not possible and due to lack of Google maps it took a lot longer to find my next meeting.
For some, they may find this experience depressing. I have clearly become dependent on technology. We have all seen the odd Facebook post or video talking about our technology dependence as if it’s a bad thing. For me, it was a reminder of how lucky I am to live in a time where such stuff can be automated. I’ve heard the argument that stat nav and Google maps have made us lazy. The reality is that it’s provided more free time. Automating stuff is great. If these people want to be consistent they should walk everywhere and not use cars, busses or trains. Transport automation is the “lazy” version of walking. And those lazy explorers of history using compasses! Their forefathers used the stars for navigation. We all use and benefit from automation. Turning your nose up at smartphone dependence is a fashion statement. Not a logical, consistent observation. Like the motorcar, my smartphone has enabled me to pack more in and live a life that wasn’t possible before.