Joke of the day

Have you ever felt that sudden, intense dread that you’re about to die? That in less than seven minutes, the knot of fear and anxiety unspooling at speed will swallow you whole, rendering your life blank and your existence meaningless? And all because you failed to prepare! You idiot! And now you’re on a train carriage in a clammy panic desperately searching for hope. Also known as “a plug point”. Also known as the one thing keeping you connected and alive, contactable at all times for an urgent call about the missold PPI you’ve never bought.
Dead-battery anxiety is a thing. Last week a man named Robin Lee was told he would be arrested, presumably for crimes against electricity, if he refused to unplug his iPhone from a socket on the London Overground. He didn’t, and he was – only to be “de-arrested” later while self-righteously claiming “the whole thing was ridiculous”, unlike his normalised need to be “on” at all times.
The week before, 19-year-old Nick Silvestri jumped on a Broadway stage and tried to jam his phone in a prop outlet because it was on 5% and “Girls were calling all day. What would you do?”. What would you do? A 2012 study shows that 77% of his peers in the US are nomophobes – a real-life condition recognised as a fear of having no mobile battery or coverage; one suffered by a reported 66% of the British population.

The best (or worst, depending on how dependent you are on your mobile) remains an as-yet unnamed woman filmed on public transport in Hong Kong, dealing with her dead phone by screaming and crying for help. She’s hysterically inconsolable. Her phone remains dead, her dignity buried.
I don’t want to say we’ve all been there, but to a greater or lesser degree, we have. I get it. Your phone battery hovers in the red zone and your brain hits auto-twitch, scanning the immediate vicinity for power. It’s a universal problem. It’s also really easily fixable through self-imposed exposure therapy.
Take it from an expert: I’ve reached Buddha levels of zen. Not because of any luddite tendencies, but because the longest relationship I’ve had with a pristine iPhone is 4 months; I’ve been using and losing them since 2007. Keeping a tally of phones loved and lost stalled around iPhone number 13, two summers ago. It gets easier to let go of phone-battery anxiety when you’re not that anxious about having a phone in the first place. Here’s some tips to help you cope:
Go cold turkey


The first rule of phone freedom is to have liberated yourself from your device at least twice in your life. The first to experience it, the second to be experienced at it. The number of times you lose it, break it, have it stolen, or drop it in the toilet bowl after that depends on how keen you are to master not caring about being connected to the modern world.
Experience the real trauma
The real faff isn’t in being phoneless, it’s in the interminable admin involved in getting re-connected – registering the police report; the call to your mobile network to block your phone; the plea to your insurance company to file your claim; the slog to the DHL depot to pick up your new phone because the courier couldn’t be bothered to ring your doorbell. Agony, but also an excellent lesson in perspective: no power is a temporary drag, but phone admin will destroy your soul.
Pretend not to care
The third rule is to establish a laissez-faire “attitude” towards your phone as an essential part of your being. Friends of yours who haven’t met one another before will use your haplessness as an easy thing to bond over. Jokes will be made about phones needing to be made out of velcro or sold to you like mittens on string. You’ll hear the same ones over and over: weather it.
Have multiple backup plans (none of which is “buy a portable charger”)
Sure, your battery is dead, but this is why you also carry a tablet, for that key moment when you’re out and can pull an iPad from your giant bag at 10.37pm in a restaurant to check exactly why 50 Cent has gone bankrupt. What, your tablet is cracked and/or it needs charging? No problem, you keep five essential numbers on you at all times, and are always with someone who won’t mind you using their phone. Wait: no one trusts you to ever go near their expensive mobile and you’ve run out of friends? Don’t worry about it, it’s really easy to keep talking to this barman until he says you can iMessage your flatmate to say you’re going to be late and you don’t have your keys, please don’t move house.
Clearly I’m an idiot. But then, I figure, so are you. Being forced to live in the moment is different to evangelically boring on about it; but if there’s one thing worse than someone you can’t get hold of, it’s the person unable to “go dark” without bleating “do you know where I can charge my phone?” to every other person.
But remember: no major moment in history will go undocumented because you weren’t recording it. The two hours when your phone died were probably not the ones when Prince decided to cold-call you. The biggest lesson learnt when you recharge to find no missed calls? You’re not as important as you think you are – and if you are, you’ll never be that unreachable in the first place.

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