lose [HOPE]: Did you have to say goodbye to a person, or even a cherished object, this year? Take a moment to celebrate the memory
Fortunately, I did not have to say goodbye to a person. The big loss this year was my precious iphone, which I hung onto through flagging performance until one leaking water bottle spelled its timely death.
I want to use this post to reflect on and give thanks for technology. A constant modern narrative is how technology has disrupted our lives creating such threats to life and liberty as superficial Facebook posts, obsessive photographing of one’s lunch and checking one’s phone during dinner. Some brave rebels are actually opting out of these with smugness that is terrible to behold.
Internet addiction and the irritations of Facebook notwithstanding, I think the benefits of mobile technology are great. My uncle who used to be a real estate agent, lovingly stroked his smartphone recalling how he would spend anxious hours tapping his foot at some agreed upon meeting point, dash off to find a payphone to call the missing client and rush back only to be told that someone had come looking for him and gone away. Yes, a dinner table in a restaurant with the kids glued to a phone is not a pretty picture, but at least when the kids are young, it allows both parents to eat at the same time and even have a conversation, instead of one parent having to dash off after a restless toddler.
The smartphone is no longer so much a phone as an organiser with the capacity to make phone calls. I use my phone least for making calls. Things I use it for are:
- Browsing the Internet – a huge, huge technological leap the consequences of which range from playing a part in the collapse of the Berlin Wall to simply being able to Google anything and not have to let people’s stupidity and ignorance invade ones mind. (One also hears of how the Internet is rife with rumours and rubbish, but somehow I manage to always find more sense than not, simply because the Internet offers the capacity for sifting). Also for staving off boredom. It is always assumed that one is doing something mindless on one’s phone. But actually, I read a lot of news and interesting long-form journalism on my phone.
- Related to the above, checking email – yes, it is annoying if people expect you to be accessible to work 24/7 but like all technology, we have to set the limits. That the capacity for it exists does not mean we have to use that capacity or wish for a time when such capacity didn’t exist because that meant we avoided having to be assertive with our bosses. It does help that people have an alternative route to you, when someone urgent comes up and you need to respond. It involves training people to use their discretion, something essentially to being a full functioning adult in society.
- Making notes. I use the notepad function to jot down ideas for posts, for articles, for novels, for PhD thesis.
- Taking photos.
- Playing music.
- Recording interviews.
- Most recently, keeping accounts.
- My current phone even has an app that can check the balance of my Octopus card by swiping the card across it. It’s only a matter of time that the phone will be able to be used to make payments like a credit card.
When I first got my phone and I realised that one device can do all this, I was stupefied. It is a boon for a disorganised person like me. Now I have to remember to put just one thing into my bag, instead of an assortment of 10 things, each of which has an individual potential to be forgotten or lost. Yes, it means that if this one thing gets lost, a lot of other things do too but (fingers crossed), this has not happened since I got my iphone, perhaps because I live in a safe city, perhaps because I have only one thing to check for.
As a journalist, I always found that the slip of paper I noted an address or phone number down had eponymously slipped away. Being able to check email on my phone or Google an address was a huge relief. One might argue that this meant I didn’t have to step up and change my disorganised ways but actually, I don’t think I would have been capable of that anyway. I would have just bumbled around highly stressed. The phone gave me an easy way to be a bit more organised. I will never be as on as some people I know but I’m a better person and my life has been improved by my phone.
Now, back to the phone that died. It was, as I said, on its last legs so I was not bereft to see it go. I was impressed with how long it lasted under such dire conditions as being chewed on and flung to floor by small children. I was proud I had not lost it. But I was ready to move on to a phone with a better camera so I could record my children’s progress better. Again, not having a camera imbedded in the phone meant I would simply take less photos. I have moved on so thoroughly that these days when I encounter an iphone, I stab frustrated at the place where I imagine the Back button must be.
And in the end, V managed to get the old phone fixed. So while it lies at the bottom of a box, powered off, it might one day see the light of day again.