Despite my tender age, believe it or not, I still very clearly remember my life before my mobile phone. Before every photo taken was a potential Instagram post, a time when, if you wanted to go somewhere you would first have to study a MAP and write the directions down on a post-it. A time before not only our lives, but the lives of friends, family and celebrities was not simply available to us at the touch of a button, or a swipe of a finger in my case.
I remember my first mobile phone and its allowance of 20 minutes and 100 texts per month, I remember the jewels I had stuck around the screen and the fact that there was only room for one song (Hips Don't Lie) and 5 photos.
Before that I remember using the 'family' mobile, only to be used in the case of emergencies or very exceptional circumstances, such as the lonely trip to the dentist once every few months.
And before even that I remember the constant chirping of the home phone, the 'landline' and with it, the excitement that the person on the other end might be waiting to talk to me. I still remember a collection of numbers that once upon a time would have put me through to a friend's mother or father before they, in turn, got put onto me. I still remember the apprehension that came with having to make small talk with a parent.
But now? Now, the thought of a life without my phone is totally terrifying. I don't know when it happened but all of a sudden, as much as I'd like to think that I don't 'need' it, I have discovered that I absolutely do, I NEED my phone.
You see, a couple of weeks ago, I left the house without it.
On that particular Friday, Minty and I had decided to go to a workshop together in Central London and, since I live west and she lives east, we thought we'd meet at the venue. But as I went to text her, to confirm that she was still on for meeting outside at 1, I realised, 20 minutes into my bus journey, that I was, for the first time in a long time: phoneless.
Not to worry. Ever resourceful I looked around the bus to see that everyone else on there was using their phones. Perfect, lots of nice people with lots of working phones. But when I went to ask one of them to borrow their's for a tiny second so that I could call Minty and let her know of my predicament, I realised that I didn't know her number. Why would I? Since Minty and I have been friends she has never needed to be anything but a contact card. (No offence Mint). So that ruled that out.
Once I got to the tube station I remembered that I had my iPad with me, and so skimmed through my contacts to find her number, I wrote it down on my hand - how old school? And went on the hunt for a kind stranger. You can imagine my disappointment when I asked around and found that not one, but THREE people either pretended to not see me or said that they didn't understand English when I asked. Fuckers.
By this point I was running late, and sweating. As I ran down to the platform I found a mother travelling with her young son and begged her to lend me her phone, just for one second. And although she eventually did, she was so sceptical that I actually had to offer her my iPad to hold as my own little form of insurance. She didn't take it, but she didn't leave my heel either. As I looked down to dial Minty's number I realised that I had smudged it... damn sweaty palms and so ended up ringing one of the few numbers I still know by heart; my mums. I then asked her to call Minty and let her know the magnitude of my predicament. I then handed the phone back and never heard if Minty had got my message and was on track to meet me there.
But despite all of this, it wasn't until I got off the tube that the real problems started. I didn't have my phone and I didn't know where I was going. Luckily, being in central, there are signs nearly everywhere and so I ended up a tourist in my own city, doing something I never thought I'd do... popping into a Bureau Du Change to ask for directions *oh the shame*.
I eventually made it, hooked my iPad up to the wifi at the venue only to receive a stream of iMessages from Minty telling me that she had the wrong address, was miles away and wasn't going to make it.
So I was faced with my own worst nightmare: sitting in a room full of strangers with absolutely no way of distracting myself or appearing busy to the outside world (aka flicking through Instagram). I was left feeling like a total lemon. A lemon with hands, twiddling my thumbs incredibly nervously.
The workshop was fine, and I got home with no drama. No music, but no drama and was almost as excited to see the little bugger plugged into the wall as I was to see the little fluff ball (Boo) waiting for me at the front door. And that's when I realised that there might be a problem here.
Every morning, the first thing I do when I get up, is look at my phone. Before I've even greeted my boyfriend, I'm flicking through my notifications, or spam emails as they're often known. In fact, last thing at night is the same. I was actually prompted to write this piece because just before we went to sleep last night, Alex and I lay side by side in bed for a good half an hour, not speaking, just scrolling... and that can't be good.
By the end of 2014, 93% of us here in the UK were using mobile phones. In fact, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have not, in the last five years, met anyone without one. Nor have I been to a dinner where there hasn't been at least one on a table. Or sat on ANY form of transportation where the other passengers weren't all tapping away at something (apart from that time last summer when I rode a horse).
And they are GREAT. (Phones, not horses). They are genius, they save lives, they make being in a new place easy, when it was once daunting. They allow relationships to thrive, friendships to stay strong and they allow us to connect with the whole world. I don't wand that to stop, and even if I did, it sure as hell isn't going to.
In fact, technology is moving at an incredibly fast pace. If I, a girl in her early twenties, can remember a time when there was NO SUCH THING AS FACEBOOK, then just think what the kids of today are going to be up to. Urgh. Facebook will be so done by then. It's scary. It's great, but it's scary.
So I'm not saying 'give up your phone', I literally can't do that. I wanted to try and do it for the blog, as an experiment, but I have had to deem it totally impossible, I'm an adult, with a dog and a job and a life, ALL of which would be too difficult to manage without my phone. Yes, even having a dog, because yes, I spend a lot of time on pet forums. Please don't judge me.
It isn't plausible to give up your phone. It doesn't make sense. For the same reason that I would never encourage anyone to give up chocolate: once you've had it for a little bit, a life without it seems cruel and dark. But moderation? Dare I say it, moderation might be the answer.
I feel naked without my phone and I'm not the only one. We are, as a culture obsessed and dependent. The first time I got a text from my now late Grannie should have been the moment that I realised: it's got to be a bloody strong current if it's able to sweep up my stubborn as they come grandmother.
We literally risk walking into lamp posts and stepping in dog shit every time we go outside because we are so reluctant to look up from our phones. We risk car accidents because we need to check them in the car. We risk missing some great things because thefatjewish Instagram account has shared a photo of an octopus dressed as a human. And that's not right. We've got to look up, even if it's just for a few minutes every day.
Because yes, although my Friday without it was manic as FUCK, I survived it. Stick an 'out of office' on, risk getting lost, settle for just eating your food without snapping it and perhaps, try to appreciate how wonderful the world can be when you just look up.