I have a confession. I am an addict.
It started a few years ago. Slowly at first. Just once or twice a day.
But it wasn’t long till I starting needing more and more.
Now I can’t get enough of it.
I can’t put my finger on exactly when I knew I needed help. I think it was the day I found myself curled up in a ball on the toilet floor crying my eyes out, shaking and shivering.
It was a day I will never forget.
The day I dropped my phone in the toilet.
My hand darted into that toilet faster than Eddie Maguire’s apology to Adam Goodes. I was so quick I thought the water might not have entered the mechanics of the phone. I was wrong.
I submerged it in rice, poured more on top and fired up the hairdryer.
I blew on the mouthpiece while gently caressing the outer casing in a desperate attempt to breathe life back into it – like a drowned hamster needing resuscitation.
I thought to ask Google for help and advice – so I reached down to type my query into the search engine of my phone. I froze and crumpled as the realization dawned that this was no longer possible.
My wife walks in and sees me lying on the floor. I hold up the phone to her with tears streaming down my face.
“she’s dead” I say
“you’ll be dead in a second if you don’t get off that floor“ she replies stepping over my body.
Perfect. Just the sympathy I have come to expect. Just wait till it happens to her.
What is going on with me at the moment? What is this constant phone fix that I seem to need? I cannot put it down for more than 10 minutes. I am constantly checking emails, Facebook, Linked In and Twitter accounts. I’m not that popular. Nothing changes in the space of 10 minutes. Am I craving attention? Do I want more from life? Do I need to feel like I am constantly busy?
I used to wake up, turn over and give my wife a knowing nudge and a wink. Now I wake up, turn over and poke someone on Facebook.
It doesn’t seem to matter where I am or what I am doing. It must be a bit like smoking. I have to satisfy my craving when the thought comes into my head.
I think this is the way it is going to be. To stop it means a change of lifestyle. A change to the way I do things. It means constantly being aware that when I want to check my phone – I should stop and not.
I tried it once. For a week I made a rule that I was not allowed to use my phone between 8pm and 8am. It was hard work. But it was liberating.
Using my phone doesn’t hurt anyone. It is frustrating for others who are not yet addicted. Because they don’t get it. Even my Dad who, when I suggested he gets an Ipad, told me “what do I need that for”, is now never off it. My Mum who cannot use a computer has recently started posting Facebook messages on my Dads account thinking that no-one else can read them.
I just disconnected our home phone. We don’t need it. We Facetime – we Skype – we use the mobile to call. I don’t use a video or digital camera anymore. No need. I use my phone. I went to a concert recently with no ticket. I showed them an e-ticket on my phone. I have not bought a newspaper in 2 years. I read it on my phone. I bought a book last week….on my phone. I waited for the kids at a party while watching the football live on… guess what. I walked to the station listening to the radio on my phone. I worked on a presentation while sitting on the train on my……..you get the jist.
TV Ads must be on the way out too. Surely their value has dropped. We rarely watch them anymore.
In the ‘old days’ when the ads came on we went off to make a cup of tea, picked up a book, took a toilet break or just sat and watched them.
Now there is an instinctive reaction to pick up our phone or Ipads to avoid any downtime. In our family we could enter a synchronised Iphone contest. As soon as the ad starts, my wife and I reach for our phones and up it comes to our face. When the programme re-starts the phone goes back down. All we need is some backing music.
Sitting patiently in a car is a foreign concept.
“Dad can I have your phone.”
“Oh it’s so boring”
I check my email on my phone all the time. As if I am expecting some kind of life changing communication. I check my bank account with alarming regularity in the hope that it has miraculously increased. I open up Twitter, not to read the feeds, but to see who has followed me…..still no-one. I check then re-check the news but little has changed. Facebook is the worst. It is a real time waster. It would be rare to pick up my phone without clicking on the Facebook icon.
Toilet breaks no longer involve a magazine. I have Candy Crush, Temple Run and Cherish4ever.
I think it is only a matter of time before the phone makes way for the Smart-glasses or the Smart-watch. Both already in production. The need to hold something in your hands will become so old-school. Maybe after that an implant of some kind. A sound chip behind your ear, a voice chip in your throat connected directly to the communication hub implanted in your arm. Sounds absurd? So was flying at one time, TV, internet, mobile phones and remote control surgery.
So for now my love/hate relationship with my phone will continue. But I will never forget my roots. I will always remember with fondness how I survived without my phone as a kid.
I will continue to regale my kids with stories of how I could meet my friends in town without the use of a mobile phone. And that we always seemed to be on time and at the right place. I will tell them I could remember all my friends home phone numbers. I will talk to them of reverse charge calls. Of having to go to the library to find out information. I will tell them we used to play with action figures and board games. We used to roam the streets till dark and play with our neighbours.
And they will look at me with wide eyes and disbelief and tell me:
“Dad you are so boring. Pass me your phone.”