Kristen Douglas

Held hostage by my cell phone

Kristen's Comment

Last week I went off the grid.

Thanks to my clumsiness, I fumbled my cell phone and watched in horror as it slipped from my grasp and splashed into the toilet.

All I could do was look on in horror at my poor phone lying submerged at the bottom of the toilet bowl. My brain was screaming, ‘pick up your phone!’ but my muscles just didn’t want to obey. At least not as quickly as I wanted them to.

I think I was too stunned to move and too frustrated that I had done something so stupid. Particularly since the exact same thing had just happened to my sister  – twice, no less – only two months ago. You’d think that would have been a lesson to make sure the same thing didn’t happen to me.

But no, I just can’t resist carrying my phone with me everywhere I go. It’s not that I’m constantly on my phone, but I like having it near me at all times because, you know, I might miss an important text message or an email that just simply can’t wait.

Well, let me tell you, I ended up missing several texts and emails as a result of toiletgate. After the splashdown, I turned my phone off and put it in a bag of air dry balls and rice to try and dry it out and avoid any serious water damage.

My sister then informed me that I was supposed to keep my phone off for 72 hours so that the power surge when turning my phone back on didn’t wreak havoc on my still wet phone.

Fear and anxiety started to set in.

I panicked.

How was I going to communicate with people? I had made plans with friends. Just how was I supposed to confirm what time and where we were to meet? How?!

I even told my sister to send me a message via Facebook Messenger to let me know when she wanted to leave for my brother’s birthday dinner the next day. She lives downstairs in the basement suite, but I couldn’t just walk down to her place.

Who does that? Who just randomly shows up on someone’s doorstep? That’s so 1980.

It drove me crazy not having my phone on me at work. How was I going to know if I had any emails coming in? Text messages? Facebook notifications?

I wish I could say that in the short amount of time my phone was inaccessible that I had more face-to-face conversations or that I discovered the lost art of letter-writing. But I can’t. Because I didn’t.

I wish I could say it was easy. But if I did, I would be lying. Instead, thanks to an old phone, Wi-fi and the Internet, I forced myself to adapt. I guess I wasn’t really off the grid after all. But I was still filled with anxiety because I didn’t have my phone at my fingertips.

It’s scary just how attached to my phone I’ve become, despite only having a cell phone for the past eight years of my life. That’s just 28 per cent of my entire lifetime. That doesn’t sound like much.

But in that short amount of time, I’ve quickly become reliant on it. So much so that I don’t even own a landline anymore, it’s become my sole source of music, and my snap and shoot camera in my purse has had a dead battery for I don’t even know how long because I hardly use it anymore.

I also rarely make phone calls because, with a cell phone, I can send a text knowing I’m not inconveniencing the recipient of said message. They can respond whenever they get a moment, rather than me having to interrupt what they’re doing with a phone call.

I’m happy to report that when I did finally turn my phone back on, all seemed well. I think I was one of the lucky ones – thanks to my OtterBox phone case.

I’m also happy to say that I’ve been learning it’s not absolutely crucial to have my phone on me at all times and I’ve left it in the other room while I’ve eaten dinner, showered, and even left it behind while I went for a walk the other day.

But it’s still early days yet.

The jury’s still out on to what extent I can realistically detach myself from my security blanket. But I’m trying.

As I write this, I’m resisting the urge to check my phone.