Some friends came round last night for the inaugural meeting of the Devon Record Club. As Rob and I waited for Tom to arrive we discussed the fact that, as a man in his 30s, with a wife and kids and a job as a teacher, it was impressive that he managed to live without a mobile phone whilst we’re both (men in our 30s, wives, no kids but plenty of animals) absolutely shackled to ours. I’m down to one phone now but had two for a couple of years, as I needed one specifically for work. Rob has two (again, one specifically for work).
I got my first mobile phone in 1998 when I went to university. My bank gave me one for taking out a student credit card. About a third of all the freshers in my year who had mobile phones had the same one as me. I can distinctly remember the first time I was sent a text message by my friend Olly. I’m convinced he had to phone someone in a call centre somewhere and speak the message to them and they sent it on to me as text. It was ridiculous because we were sitting next to each other but it was also quite an astonishing thing to experience for the first time.
That first phone lasted me about 9 months before I decided I needed one with a proper contract and a better handset, and swaggered into a mobile phone shop on the high street and signed the first of a sequence of contracts that have lasted me for over a decade now. I’ve hoped networks, starting out on BT Cellnet with the original freebie, then Vodafone, Orange, and currently O2 (so full circle, essentially).
I resisted smartphone technology for a while, until the iPhone reached its third iteration, by which time Apple’s hold over my technological life was such that I could no longer resist. I claim not to be “into gadgets” when I’m accused of being “into gadgets”. I’m not interested in how technology works or making it do new and exciting (but pointless) things. I just want convenience, stuff that works, stuff that makes my life’s experiences better, smoother.
On Boxing Day our pipes froze and we were without water for about 10 hours. It was horrible, and made us feel vulnerable. When something we take for granted but which is absolutely essential to daily life is denied, the feeling is like a black cloak of panic climbing up your back and over your shoulders. Our water-free day was as nothing compared to a prolonged period in winter without heating I imagine. But it was enough.
Yesterday our internet was switched off, too, because we’ve changed broadband supplier. Luckily I’m at home now, on leave while the car gets fixed, and I’ve been able to pick up the new wireless router and set it up, hopping back online in the space of a couple of minutes of opening the box. But last night when I went to bed at about 11 I realised I didn’t know where my iPhone was. It wasn’t in any of the usual places. We tried ringing it but couldn’t hear it ring. I’d been relying on its 3G capabilities to feed me information; tweets, emails, calendar appointments, details about who played guitar in what band when. I rely on its alarm to wake me up every morning.
On realising I was starved of information completely, I felt that black cloak tickle the small of my back. I still don’t know where my phone is. It must be somewhere in the flat. Either that or Ipplepen. I know the battery is flat now, so I have no chance at all of hearing it vibrate if I ring it. I’m stuck without it for a while at least.
I quite like it.