My month without a phone [spoiler] wasn’t as bad as you would imagine

Posted on July 22, 2014


I have not had a mobile phone this last month.

Poverty has had me in its mysteriously sticky grasp and it is unlikely I’ll be unpeeled from the cruel mandible of fate anytime soon.

In the space of nine days, both my iPhone 4S and iPhone 3G died for no apparent reason – other than they were Apple products. Topically, they now the longest lived Apple products ever.


Can see more cracks on this phone than a building site for the obese

But with this tragedy, I had lost access to my virtual life – I was information poor. An orphaned street urchin of the digital age, looking in others’ electronic glass windows, hoping to glimpse a funny YouTube clip or that World Cup match.

On my dead phones: My Snapchats lay unopened – that ever elusive naked selfie is sitting, waiting for me.

My texts were untouched – that much desired nude MMS remained, teasing me.

With no access the web on the move – there was so much snatch that I cannot catch.

So, here’s where my descent into 21st century minimalism began. I became content, disconnected from the worries of life. Happy.

“John, what time is it?”, someone would demand.

I would reply: “Time is relative to the individual, it is nout but an arbitrary limitation upon one’s existence and as a concept it should be reworked and resynced into harmony with humankind.”

There would be times when I’d be asked: “Who’s that guy in that thing? Go and check that ImDb.”

I would reply: “So and so is but one vessel of the playwright’s artistic vision, bother yourself not with such trivialities.”

OK, I’ll admit, I became even more of a dick. But it’s true what they say, ignorance is bliss.

Phoneless train commutes were drastically better. I spoke to three new people this month.

One was an IT Metallica guy who would have been a Buddhist monk had the geography and culture correctly placed him in Asia upon birth. He told about the sickest basslines, which hole his women prefer, and informed me of the ‘safest’ drugs to take. It was refreshing to hear such things.

And a mile better than playing Candy Crush while weighing up which supermarket provides the thickest bags for self-asphyxiation.

Candy Crush, a game played only by constipated individuals

Candy Crush, a game played only by constipated individuals

Another train-friend was a bespectacled female who seemed impressed that I was reading a book made from papyrus, sorry, paper. She was an English Lit student somewhere in town and her intelligence was intimidating.

“I write for a living, of course I’ve read that book – it was a while ago – and I read so much that sometimes I can forget every detail about the plot and characters and setting and themes and…”, I’d lie.

Who was I to tell her my reading time is divided 50/50 between the loo and the train?
The final chat came from one of those ‘bubbly’ call centre types with a new infected piercing every time you see her. One day, out-of-the-blue when I was staring out the window she asked me “You know how tae download all those illegal films ind that eh?”

As an orator she was a resounding failure, as a judge of character she excelled – not that I would ever use my theoretical talents in piracy. That would be wrong. So wrong. Will someone think of the children???

When I was not having random chats with social and interesting people, I was spying on the anti-social ones. Without a phone, one has to get creative to get entertained.

On the sardine-tin train crammed full with misery, I was often the only soul unplugged from the Matrix. Here I would observe a still-drunk alkie faking a spine injury while playing Candy Crush in the same way a paralysed meerkat would write beautiful poetry.

An angry looking little motherfucker, who was assumedly emulating the derelict aids sufferer look, would frantically stalk his ex, manically checking who liked what, what she liked, where she had been, who was in her pictures and more importantly, why were they in her pictures. He would headbang to Green Day’s more ‘hardcore’ ensembles.

A scarily thin woman – or a fat skeleton – would regularly browse the Mail Online, usually checking up on Kim Kardashian’s ‘horrific’ earlobe stretch marks. I’d watch her skin try to pull itself from the skull into a shocked pose whenever she saw a Paris Hilton crotch shot, which, as we all know, is often.

A Night in Paris?

Fancy a Night in Paris?

And finally, there was the fourteen-year-old girl whose face wouldn’t have looked out of place in a abused dog advert… where the director abused the dog slightly too much, all in the name of realism of course.

She should have probably been at school, but I got the impression she saw that as optional – like a trip the dentist. She was rapidly, with the speed and precision of a classical guitarist, texting insults at her mother, “Naw whore”, “Fuk you fuk slut” and “I don’t need u cunt breth”.

It is always so nice when young girls develop into independent women.

There is a point to this spiel, believe it or not. Phones are a technological wonder and the benefits they can provide are immeasurable. As are the dangers.

People need to take control back from the gadgets that have in actuality become electronic extensions of ourselves. These expensive doohickeys do not define us – they are thingermajigs to make life that bit easier.

It’s hard to state how important it is to do the simple things like phoning a taxi when you’re disgracefully drunk and lost in the bad part of a bad town.

Or tracking down and comforting that upset relative after X happens to undeserving Y.

It is even a luxury to be able to check train times seeing as Scotrail misses more trains than blind ping-pongers miss balls.

You are no iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5 or Huawei Ascent or Nokia or Motorolla or LG or Blackberry.

You’re a person – and sometimes it’s important to disconnect and just enjoy the sunshine, birds and the decadent shit you can see with your own eyes on your daily commute.

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