When I held my first mobile phone, I was fresh from high school and it was something of a life achievement to own a mobile phone. My old man figured I needed the gadget, not so much for communication but so I would not label him and my mum failed parents. As a young adult, it was extremely important that my friends saw me as a trend setter as opposed to a trend follower. And so I was one of the few S.6 vacists with a mobile phone at the time.
My first mobile phone was huge, most times without credit, but always fully charged and constantly in my hands. It had no internet access and the most high-tech attribute about it was infrared. I loved it nonetheless and it always made me appear cool despite its size and limited functionality. I could often be seen fingering the device with untold pride, extreme delight and strange frequency. It didn’t matter that half the time I was playing the snake game and the other half I was changing from one monophonic ringtone to another. The phonebook was mostly filled with numbers I copied from billboards, news papers and random magazines. Since I had few actual phone numbers that belonged to people I knew, I had to find a way to fill up the phonebook. The huge device was my pride; it was my love; it was my everything!
The closest most peers had come to owning a phone
As time went by, it became impossible to separate me and my phone. The relationship we had was something of a symbiotic one; I constantly charged the device and it rewarded me by winning me approval and substantial envy from my peers. Being one of the first among my friends to own a mobile phone was something that constantly gave me pleasure and massaged my ego substantially. And so without warning, my addiction to the mobile phone started right there.
Nowadays the addiction starts right from birth!
Several years later, the addiction has become so powerful that I often wonder what my life would be like if I spent just a few days without my phone. At the beginning of this year while everyone was making resolutions to become richer, get marriage partners, switch jobs or become less abusive, I was quietly having an interesting conversation with the universe about my addiction to my mobile phone. I told myself that I would set aside a one week period where I would be offline. Being offline would mean having no internet access on my phone which is something I cannot risk doing for a number of reasons. First of all, my job requires that I am constantly online. Secondly, I have this strange addiction to following events online right from sports, to current affairs to entertainment and everything in between. Thirdly, isn’t life just so empty without the internet? Seriously; is it not?
Oh the things I will miss!!
Naturally, this addiction and desire to stay online all the time comes at a price. There is the issue of using up way too much data which increasingly takes a toll on the wallet. Then there is the issue of having to walk around with cables and such things so as to constantly charge the bloody phone. Quite a hustle! And then of course you have all these notifications and alerts awaiting response every now and again.
And so when I was having that other conversation with the Universe, I was keen to promise myself a week when I would have no access to the internet on my phone. It appears Karma was eavesdropping because just last week (on Friday), I got an unexpected visit from Lady Karma. My phone blacked out and has since refused to respond to any pressing, loud cursing, polite begging and earnest prayer. The damned phone just will not budge.
The natural thing for one to do when their prized Samsung Galaxy Tab stops working is head to the technicians to try and get the little baby to work again. Or if the worst came to the worst, have the gadget replaced. However, having remembered that I owed the Universe the promise to stay offline for at least one week, I decided against it. Also, I was too broke to get the phone fixed or replaced. So I decided to spend some time offline, starting with the weekend. Big Mistake!
For starters, a number of folks had gotten used to getting in touch either via whatsapp, Twitter, Faebook or email which unfortunately cannot be accessed when one is offline. Access to the internet on the phone is something that offers an opening to so many avenues of communication. Each of these will come with specific benefits and shortcomings. A good number of my contacts are actually wondering what the heck is going on with me especially since they are used to my online presence 24/7. I have received a few phone calls from people who think ‘something is wrong’. And yes, they are right – the phone with which I access the internet is dead.
The phone I’m currently using as no internet access.
It is therefore safe to say that for one week, there is a chance I will be in a dark, cold, lonely, uninformed and totally sad world of only phone calls and old school text messages. While everyone is constantly updating their status on Facebook, sharing details of their boring lives on Instagram, spreading false rumours about themselves on Twitter and sharing updates about their boring jobs on LinkedIn, I shall quietly be stuck with phone calls and Text messages.
It may appear that I am going offline because I am trying to cut back on my addiction to my phone but really it is mostly because I cannot afford to get back online right away. While I have resigned myself to waiting for one week before I can replace the now dead smart phone, I know that I will pay quite dearly for this. One or two business deals might go south, my boss might complain here and there and I might even miss an invite to a party somewhere. But I like to think it is for the greater good. So then, my dear friends, if I do not respond to your whatsapp message or I if reply your email only in the evening when I am seated on a computer, it is because I am trying to follow up on my pledge to the Universe. It might have taken the death of my beloved Samsung Galaxy Tab but hey, the call must be answered. The regularity with which I am online is going to reduce substantially for just a week. But even though I walk through the shadow of no mobile internet for a week, I shall fear no evil!
Back in a Week
“A man who can’t bear to share his habits is a man who needs to quit them.” ― Stephen King, The Dark Tower
The Talkative Rocker
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