This blog isn’t here to point the finger at my husband, or any other unsuspecting husbands out there, but to merely comment with wonderment at what we’ve come to in 2016. It really is incredible to think, that these wonderful little devices that we call “mobile phones”, have become an integral part of our daily lives, an appendage. How many times have you heard someone say “not having my phone with me is like losing an arm!”…..really? Is it really so awful to not have your phone with you for more than an hour, two hours, a whole day? (*shudders at the thought). How many of us have set out on an unimportant errand, only to discover a mile down the road you’ve forgotten your mobile phone? You tell yourself “no matter, no biggie”, your sensible conscience which is still living happily in a pre-mobile 1999 tells you that it is possible to survive a day without your mobile phone. Which is why you’re now doing an illegal U-ey in the middle of the duel carriageway to floor it back home to get your god forsaken mobile! Why? Why does the prospect of potentially stacking your car into the central reservation seem so much more sensible than a day sans mobile? The reason I can write this, is because I’ve done it. And on the few occasions I’ve left my mobile at home and it’s been too late to go back for it, or my persistent absentmindedness has meant I haven’t noticed it not being there, (until of course my Facebook reflex kicks in, with my need to check what everyone is up to), I have found it incredibly liberating. Like a long lost friend, “ah, this is what it feels like to not know what EVERYONE is doing ALL the time”. Because with that power, to know all the nice things that are going on in people’s lives, comes the over exposure to all the positively shitty things too. All the misery, disease and misfortune in the world. All of which my poor brain tries to process on a daily basis, and can do Bugger all about it.
I go back to it being called a “phone”, as I think this is a seriously loose and misplaced term. A phone is a means to communicate. How ironic that it is the root of much miscommunication, or indeed complete lack thereof, in most households. If we call it a phone, having our faces glued to it seems somehow more palatable. Yet we wouldn’t think it was normal to have a computer on your lap whilst you’re enjoying a pint with a friend, or have a huge computer sat on the dining table during Christmas dinner. But because these dinky little devices just sit comfortably at your side, we seem to accept their presence.
When I met my husband at university, I remember us rather clumsily and romantically hauled up in a phone box to each ring our parents in turn. What has happened since then? So much in terms of technological advances, and I think in terms of the way couples interact. I remember telling my husband one night, that I think we should leave our phones in the kitchen during the evening. So if we’re watching TV together, we might be tempted to talk about it rather than tweet our passing comments. I think it’s what they call “casual conversation”. My husband is quite defensive if I challenge him about his device overuse, as I can be just as guilty, but on reflection, we both know that there is something fundamentally unsustainable about a relationship lived through social media. I am always wary of couples who proclaim their undying love for each other via Facebook. I have told my husband that if he ever wished me happy birthday via facebook, he can expect a call from my divorce solicitor! Just talk to me! Why is it so important to know what everyone is doing, and disturbingly, let every man and his dog know what your lovely family unit are up to. I can imagine a time in the future where we plan an outing, just because it’ll make great photo fodder for Facebook. “Let’s do this as a family, as people will think we’re really wholesome if we do”. I told some friends that I was recently walking, pushing my baby daughter in her pram, whilst simultaneously checking my emails on my phone (you have to capitalise on these moments while they sleep), and an old lady walked past me with a look of bewildermemt. How much has life changed since her generation grew up? A mother can’t even find the time to look at her child, but instead has to be on her phone. She didn’t have to say it, her look said it all. I felt ashamed! How ridiculous, and yet how awful. Had I noticed the trees in blossom, or the freshly cut grass of the playing fields? Were my emails THAT important?
Maybe all this virtual interaction is to fill some kind of void in our lives, some kind of lack of excitement. Ironically if we put as much effort into our real life exchanges, as we do our virtual escapades, these voids would be filled tenfold.
I am sat writing this blog on my mobile phone, but I am alone. I just watched a middle aged couple buy coffee, and proceed to sit opposite each other whilst silently using their phones. It has made me even more determined to make sure me and my husband hang on to who we married, otherwise this is what we’re all destined for, a date with roaming 3G and not each other. The challenge is however, to conquer the awkward, unnatural silences that occur when a phone amnesty is enforced. “So, what do you want to talk about?” Says a disgruntled husband who has reluctantly put away his phone. How on earth can romance or even just friendship flourish amongst such hostility? The answer is a good deal of effort from both parties. A one screen policy seems to work well, so if you’re watching TV together, no phones! No phones when you go to bed, and no phones over breakfast. And finally, definitely no phones during moments of passion, no matter how tempting it is to post that selfie on Facebook! Who knows, with a bit of effort, I might get a smooch in a phone box…if I can find one.