Dead phone opens new world

November 18, 2017

Are we too dependent on our smartphones?

Last week I went on holidays and something happened that would terrify anyone under 40.

My phone died.

I had planned a couple of days on the road to see more of this beautiful state and like most people my age the humble mobile phone is the perfect way to get everything organised.

But as I was driving towards Bright in the north of the state, my three-year-old iPhone (positively ancient in iPhone years) decided to stop working.

I attempted to revive it using all of my technological skills, but unfortunately this just meant I turned it off and turned it on again and hoped it would work.

As I was in my car driving towards the mountains, I felt pathetically helpless.

I had driven the road before, but I had no idea where to go.

The smartphone has become a bit of a security blanket for me whenever I go outside and I am sure I am not the only one.

And with a few days off work to see the sights, I planned to rely on my phone to help me in just about every way.

Need to find the way to the 12 Apostles? Just type it in to Google Maps. Need to book some cheap accommodation but don’t want to ring half a dozen places? Just log on to Wotif or airbnb.

But without the phone I had to do strange things like read a map, read road signs, and even get out of my car and ask friendly people for directions.

I felt like some sort of stone-age dinosaur trying to survive in a futuristic hellscape, without the means to communicate.

I had to use my old-fashioned (but still digital) camera to take photos. I had to listen to the radio instead of Spotify, and I had to pick a place to get lunch without reading dozens of reviews on Yelp.

As the smartphone has become ubiquitous in our everyday lives, whenever we don’t have it we feel like we are at a major disadvantage.

For me it’s my music collection, book collection, Melways, computer, and occasionally I even make calls on it.

And whenever you are just a little bit bored, the phone gives you instant gratification, which can make it hard if you have got things to do.

After a few days without my phone I realised I was experiencing the beauty of this state through my own eyes, and not through the screen.

I appreciated a wonderful view for what it was, without snapping it for Insta. I went for a long walk without music from Spotify blaring through the earbuds.

I also missed my friends, not being able to send off a text or send something to a group chat.

My phone got fixed when I returned home and I doubt I really broke off any dependence on it in the long run.

But it was peaceful without it and perhaps it is worthwhile leaving it at home or switching it off every now and then.

But not today.

Barclay White is a News journalist.

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