Today I experienced what it means to not have my mobile phone for a whole day. It was both traumatic and educational. I have to recognize that I am addicted and I may need to re-evaluate my life style.
Describing the source of my addiction as a mobile phone is a complete insult to the device that regulates my life. The gadget starts the day as my alarm clock. It then gives me my schedule, my train times, my tube connections, links my appointments to maps giving me directions, contains my address book, my task list, keeps me informed on issues from Al Qaeda and to wheelie bins, reads emails and messages to me and, oh yes, I can even make calls if it does not run out of power. So not having this backbone of my life with me, is a life changing experience.
I arrived home at 1 in the morning last night, having had a penguin suit dinner in a room full of Welsh conservatives – yes they can actually fill a whole room these days! Despite this I am standing on the platform at the station at 8am – not quite awake, but ready to go – no mobile! Can’t stop now, so on the train I whip out my laptop and my dongle (one of those things that lets your laptop communicate with the world) – my laptop has run out of battery power. I can only send a message to my partner that I left my phone at home and that further communication today is going to be challenging.
In London I dash off to the business centre I use only to find that for the first time ever it is full and the receptionist is as helpful as my phone at home. In a huff I stomp out, grabbing a directory of their other locations on the way. Outside I go through the booklet only to find the London pages have been ripped out – b……s! Only Starbucks can help now, so off I go.
Fortunately my diary, address book, email, and task list are all on line so I take pen and paper (remember them?) and restructure the day. No problems. But I still have communications withdrawal trauma and address this by moving from Starbucks to Starbucks in between meetings for the rest of the day. High on caffeine and with a thorough knowledge of which Starbucks have the most convenient electrical outlets I get through.
I realize how sloppy I have become in the years that I have had a mobile phone and the internet. There was a time I had a secretary who confirmed appointments and kept track of what I should be doing. I would call in from a pay phone once or twice a day for minor corrections and then get on with it. Now it is my mobile which has taken over this task with a quick last minute call adjusting meeting time or place. However, no mobile – no adjustment. Even a beer after work with some friends is suddenly hard work to arrange, but I was successful (just in case I had you worried there).
By the end of the day I am back into my old routine of having no communications as I walk across London Bridge. I actually look out over the river and watch the boats rather than jabbering away into my phone. I found sitting in Starbucks for a while without a telephone quite nice and let’ s face it – I got to all my appointments and even managed a couple of beers at the end of the day.
Perhaps I need to leave the mobile at home more often. It could help crack the addiction but above all, it could help me realize that simply sitting and reflecting are enjoyable pastimes also.