By Kamal Sucharan:
It was raining heavily. I wore track pants that had shallow pockets. I was about to catch a train to Hyderabad. Having had the history of always boarding the train at the last minute, this time I actually missed it. However, I didn’t miss my train because I was late but because I lost my iPhone. I couldn’t board the train without a phone.
I lost an iPhone because of the rain.
Being a tech fanatic, I felt like I had lost a limb. I felt numb. I don’t remember the last time I was devastated to this extent. No other phone could replace my iPhone, and I didn’t have money to buy a new one either.
I tried all possible ways to retrieve it. I registered an F.I.R, blocked it on iCloud, tried to trace it through the ‘Find my iPhone’ option. Nothing worked. It was official; I had lost my iPhone.
I’ve decided to wait till I have money to purchase an iPhone again. Situations like this compel us to adapt. I started using my old Nokia phone that I had kept safely to later show to my kids as an artefact.
So here I was with my old Nokia phone. I couldn’t install WhatsApp or Facebook. I had no internet, no games, no FaceTime and didn’t need a power bank. What I had was a phone that one could use only to talk and text and the battery lasted for not hours but days, even weeks if you used it cautiously.
Before I lost my iPhone, I used to suffer from what I call the ‘Notification disorder,’ where I would check my phone every five minutes and be disappointed if I didn’t find any new notifications.
I would also get intense headaches, and my muscles would become rigid from sitting in the same position. I was also compelled to constantly post my opinions on social media to gain a ‘reputation’ that would fade away within seconds.
All of this suddenly came to an end. I began to see the beauty in adversity.
I haven’t saved any contacts on my Nokia phone neither have I posted an update asking for numbers on Facebook. I am pretty much all right just answering phone calls and texting if needed. My social connections haven’t shattered, and productivity has soared.
I have begun to spend quality time with the people I care about. There’s no intrusion because of notifications. I have made a conscious effort to become a better listener. I respond and react more too. I am also reading and writing more.
Humans are creatures of habit, and it took me a long time to break the habit of being constantly dependent on a device. Devices are meant to enhance our ability to communicate but instead are actually hampering the process. It’s time to rethink.
If only, tech entrepreneurs could make a basic phone that is aesthetically designed and its battery would last for weeks. When everyone is busy making the best smartphone, someone could try and make the best basic phone.
Consumers like me, would never miss a chance to buy a product like that. Such an idea might just work.
I would like to end the piece with a few lines by Pico Iyer that make a lot of sense.
“So, in an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”