Why Is My Cell Phone Gone? Why?!

Thoughts on the always connected world

I’m typing this out on a train to Montreal so excuse the typos or random outbursts about the crying kid near me.

This article is about my phone or lack there of.

On Tuesday at about 2pm my phone met an untimely end.

It was a sunny day. The type one would want to go out and Rollerblade on. Which is exactly what I did. You see, I’m a roller blading master. I can be found going above the speed of light throughout Toronto making people gasp at just how awesome I am.

I was zipping through a construction zone when it happened: I took my phone out of my pocket to check the time and to my utter dismay the screen didn’t light up when I hit the button. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I tried the button, it was gone.

That night I called Google with tears in my eyes. They informed that it was over, my phone was dead. Luckily though, it was still under warranty. The issue is that it would take a few days for my replacement phone to be shipped.

This sent chills to my heart. How do I last multiple days with no phone? I don’t have a home phone or mp3 player to rely on.

Thus Began a Journey of Discovery

For 18 years I lived without a cell phone. I used pay phones, a land line, portable CD players that would skip constantly and all the rest.

Somehow back then not being connected to the Internet at all times wasn’t so bad. I tried to remember those times during my phone less journey but somehow those memories are foggy. My teenage years may have been surrounded by a mist of boredom.

The first major problem I encountered while phone less was the obvious one of communication.

I was meant to meet my girlfriend and a friend from out of country at a hip bar in Toronto. But what if they couldn’t get a table? Normally they would text me a new place and I would meet them there. This was no longer viable. It was the planned place or nothing.

Another issue was that of information. I had become so accustomed to having info at my fingertips that I hadn’t bothered to memorize anything important.

At one point I was asked for an emergency contact. I gave my partner of course but couldn’t for the life of me remember her phone number.

I also couldn’t remember addresses or even how to spell names.

Above and beyond that I couldn’t keep track of appointments or plans. I always wrote them down but would forget the paper or lose it.

I could go on about all the issues I encountered but they are mostly first world problems and not so interesting to those not directly experiencing them.

Does This Make Me Stupid?

Am I an idiot now? Is my brain unable to process and memorize things it used to be able too? Is the kind information I am unable to memorize essential?

When I was young it was somehow easy to remember things like phone numbers. I knew at least a couple by heart.

Back then, it could be theorized that the only reason I memorized the info was out of need.

Thinking back to school it feels like most of what made one excel was being good at memorizing. If you think about real careers in the modern world, how much does memorizing actually help?

[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books — Albert Einstein

I like to think of my phone as simple tool and I certainly agree with Einstein above but it worries me that I can’t seem to function without it. My phone has become much more than a tool, it has become an attachment. Almost like another organ.. A secondary brain perhaps that stores information outside of my own… An external hard drive for my brain.

That sounds exciting and all but that assumes that the lack of memorization leads to an increase in creative problem-solving. It is very possible that I would be just as good at problem solving as I am now but I would have the beneficial ability to memorize if I had continued to not have a phone.

This kind of thing would be incredibly hard to test in a scientific setting.

What Should We Do?

The sun is starting to set as I reflect on how this can affect us as a society. People are still going to work everyday, teenagers are still being over dramatic and trains are still a great way to travel.

Maybe the race wont be hurt or improved by all this or maybe it will. Evolution is controlled by biology but who says it can’t be technological?

It’s possible to discuss this until we are blue in the face. We have to be honest about this: no one will be giving up thier cell phone any time soon. The change away from memorizing is going global and will not cease no matter how much we complain. Instead, let’s focus on the positives it can bring.

This article appeared on Medium
Title Photo Credit: flickr