I left behind my mobile phone at home. I realized it on the way to office when I tried to pull it out to check time. I could have gone back, and picked it up as we were only few meters away from the house. But I let it be. It is just a day without phone, what can happen at the max.
But, on second thoughts a lot could happen and the panic set in. What if someone wants to contact me for a legit reason? So, I left my visiting card at my son’s preschool; it had my office phone in case they wanted to reach me. Once at office, I quickly called up my husband and mother, the only two people who may probably worry about me.
But it felt weird, like I had lost a part of my left arm. And, for first few hours my hands kept trying to pull out an imaginary phone; a muscle memory of sorts. A constant reminder that probably I am too attached to my phone than I probably like to admit.
I recalled from a recent talk show I watched: Ed Sheeran does not have a mobile phone. He uses email to communicate, or people can reach him on a fixed line. If he can, I can too. A flip second later, I realise I am no Ed Sheeran. Why did I even think of it in the first place? Too lame an analogy
Probably, because I started to worry that I had not checked out the cart in my online grocery app or when I was trying to transfer fund, I needed my phone for an OTP. And, let us not even get started on how I will be able to book an Uber back home (?). I and husband had a strategy meeting around this one already.
Leaving behind a phone had far more implications than I initially thought. This simply was not working and I decide to rest the case. And mind you all this happened by 11 AM
May be, I was going to be more productive with my work or perhaps spend a little extra time socializing rather interacting with my colleagues/friends at work. Because, that is what spending less time on phone should ideally bring about.
But it did not happen. I had to email to communicate instead of just calling and it was complicated. So, in the end there was no rise in productivity. And, as to people at work, I found out I don’t talk to a lot of people anymore. I actually talk to only three people and rest I communicate through phone or the office messenger and a lot of them who I used to speak to have left the organisation and moved on. So it was very weird to think that I will strike up a conversation with someone just because I forgot to take my phone. As for the three guys that I hang out with in office, I would anyway spend time with them, irrespective of phone being there or not.
So, during the course of day I hardly missed receiving any texts from the people in my life. Being a textovert, I hardly call people and I prefer people to text me than call (you can take it as a cue); so if I miss calls I know it is always an important one. But, I wondered how many messages will be waiting for me when I do get hands on my phone
As you and even I anticipated, when I reached home, I did not immediately run for my phone. I was already a bit detached, which was slightly weird. I took my sweet time to hand my son a bottle of milk, settled him into bed and grabbed my phone. There were a lot of notifications, and 90% were random updates, stupid promotional stuff and I did have few WhatsApp messages. I eagerly opened my WhatsApp inbox to find a lot of group messages, forwards and few personal ones-nothing that requires immediate attention. I am generally a well-connected person and have a 1 hour rule for any message/communication to me, I always reply to the text or return calls in an hour’s time. However, no one had even noticed that I was not responding
So, I reply to someone who had texted while I was gone and conversation goes like this
I: I left my phone behind and hence could not reply
Friend: How did you manage? I would have died
I: Really? You are more connected than I am, always updating status and all that. Did anyone miss you the other day you were in hospital and fell off the radar. Any text or call asking if you are okay?
I: See, you would not have died
Then, the next day, I walk out of home and make sure the phone was with me. I walk into office and realise the three guys I hang out with are not in office. One is on leave because traffic diversion caused his Uber to not provide any rides in his area. One is away on a vacation in the US and is available only on WhatsApp. And, one is sitting in another floor and the office messenger indicates she’s away from her desk currently.
So, at times I look at my mobile phone. There are few messages from my mom, some texts from my bank and lot of random stuff. But, more importantly, in a muscle memory of sorts I shout across to my friend (the guy who didn’t come to work because there was no Uber) and I swallow the words in my throat. I look up at the messenger to see if my friend in the other floor has returned to her desk and is available for a quick cup of coffee. And, in between I drop some texts to the one in the US disregarding the time zone issues. I send quick updates to my husband and mom; do my check-in at the school. I also send a lot of messages to other people in my network, like few feeds, tweet a bit, and adhere to my one hour reply rule.
So, in the end I realise phone has nothing to do with conversations; I mean real conversation. These are actually mutually exclusive things in my experience. I do not talk to people because I spend extra time on phone or anything else for that matter. It is because I don’t want to or sometimes they don’t want to. May be we are busy, but if we want to, we always get back and don’t use it as an excuse. Otherwise it is an issue of prioritization.
Going back to the conversation with my friend from the other day
I: One does not spend time, because they don’t have time. It’s because they don’t make time!
F: True that
Not generalizing things here. But I guess I am just pacifying myself that phone or no phone, real or virtual I simply don’t have many people to actually speak to, talk to, and reach out to.
Now, did I really need a forgotten phone to understand this or did I know it all along, I will never be able to tell
Talking mentioned above is general, we are not discussing emotional availability, needs, wants, fancies and expectations from a real meaningful conversation. Now, that is a different subject altogether and I had rather not go there. Too hard and too complicated! Also excluded are people addicted to phones and social recluses. We are talking the middle of normal curve and not the tail ends.