Do you not feel a pang when in public, be it a park or a school or a restaurant, you see a child glued to a screen?
At work I feel something more akin to annoyance, when someone walks in the door or out of the toilet with their head angled at 90 degrees, fixated on their phones.
Grow up! Look up! Phones are for kids—and that’s the sad, and sorrowful thing.
I go to work and leave my phone at home, because I’m human, and if it’s with me I will check it at every opportunity for no good reason, like everyone else. The pro: my mind’s that much less uncluttered and distracted at work. The con: that clutter and distraction awaits me at home.
So I arrive home, turn off flight-safe mode to umpteen pings and bleeps, which I try quickly to attend to whilst my fiancée, Seila, asks me something or other. Being male, I cannot effectively multitask, and cannot decipher her words whilst whizzing through my messages.
“Sorry my love, say again?”
Seila looks at me, and sassily replies, “You can’t hear me because you’re like this!” She makes a silly face, holds an imaginary phone at her waist, leans her head over and presses imaginary buttons. Her impression might not be spot on, but it makes a point.
“Come here.” I beckon Seila outside of the kitchenette. I go to the shed, out of which I produce a large steel crowbar.
“Now,” I say to her, placing my Blackberry smartphone on the patio between us, leaning on the crowbar. “Give me a good reason I should keep my phone.”
Instantly on edge, she swiftly replies, “How are supposed to send each other voice messages?”
“You see me everyday,” I say, “We live together Seila. Try again.”
She quickly generates reason number two: “I’m going away next month, how am I supposed to keep in contact with you?”
“We have a house phone,” I reply, “You can phone me whenever you want, and you can email me if need be.”
I pick up the crowbar and lean it on my shoulder. “Third strike and you’re out: why should I keep the phone?”
Seila thinks a moment longer. Looking at me, she says with a plaintive voice, “What about the voice messages?”
I smash the crowbar into the phone, sending a spiderweb of cracks across the screen, as my partner shakes her head at me.
The second impact ignites a blue flame, and the phone emanates a reeking plasticky smoke, refusing to die without drama; like the cursed horcruxes Harry Potter and his gang must destroy, commonplace inanimate objects yet holding a piece of a soul. Seila retreats inside, coughing and cursing my idiocy, as I watch this electronic add-on to my being perish before me.
All of the mental clutter amassed by clicking and flicking through social media, annihilated. All of the time typing things that didn’t need to be said or could have waited for a more personable phone call or meeting in person, reclaimed. The average angle at which my head is tilted, raised by several degrees. The opportunity to intensify and experience life, multiplied exponentially.
It’s been more than three months, now. If people ask me why I don’t have a mobile phone, I tell them: I smashed my phone with a crowbar. Kids can’t seem comprehend it, life without a phone: how do you contact people?! Adults roll their eyes—and keep a distance.
As readers will know from their own experience, impulsive decisions can create life’s biggest regrets.
Do I regret destroying my phone? Only as much as Harry Potter regrets destroying a horcrux.
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