All 26 students in front of me gasped dramatically as I told them what had happened to me moments before. I needed the sympathy. Just a few minutes earlier, I had dropped my phone down the toilet. I had no idea how difficult the next 48 hours without a phone were going to be.
My relationship with my phone
I always prided myself in not being completely dependent on my phone. I don’t spend hours mindlessly scrolling through social media apps, and I never considered myself addicted to these modern devices. However, I was quite shocked to find out just how dependent we really are on these miniature digital devices in this day and age. Worst of all, this dependency wasn’t even by choice.
Let me take you through what happened. On a Thursday afternoon around lunchtime, I went for a quick run to the bathroom before continuing my lessons that day. I was wearing a long cardigan with low-hanging pockets that I used to hold my keys, handkerchief, and phone. When I turned round in the cubicle, I heard an odd sound, and found my phone in the toilet.
The following 48 hours I ended up in a strange, very frustrating, vicious circle. After a visit to the local phone repair shop, it became clear that my four year old iPhone 6 was best laid to rest, since repair costs would be too high for the phone’s worth. This meant it was time for a new one.
Going without a phone
The fact that my phone was broken beyond repair didn’t bother me completely. I was panicked at first, because I didn’t know what to do, but the people at the shop were so friendly and composed, that it calmed me down too. I didn’t mind, either, that I would be hard to get a hold of for a while. I accepted pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to Whatsapp my friends for a bit. I did feel uneasy sometimes about not being able to check the weather, or my email, but this passed pretty quickly.
Issues I faced
However, there were two things that did bother me a lot. For one, not being able to make phone calls – even though I usually despite doing it. Now that I was having issues, though, I longed for a quick phone call and resolution of things. The repair shop told me “and if you need to know more, you can always give us a call”, to which I had to reply “ehh yeah well, I can’t… because… you know… I don’t have a phone right now.”
I couldn’t get much done without a phone. After 48 hours, I had a new one.
Modern day banking
The biggest issue was with the bank. This is where we really tap into the vicious circle I mentioned, which I have illustrated as a list here:
- My phone dies.
- I have no access to online banking because you need to confirm your identity through an app, or a code sent by text message.
- Without online banking, I am unable to check my balance and move money from savings to my current account.
- I get stuck and need to contact the bank, but I can’t ring them without a phone.
- I ring the bank the next day when I’m at work: they say there’s no solution until I get a new device.
- I can’t buy a new phone, because there’s not enough money in my current account. I also can’t order a phone online because I can’t make online payments without my phone.
- I get out an old flip phone I still have, but my SIM card doesn’t fit that phone anymore. The bank suggests buying a cheap phone or SIM, but I definitely don’t feel like spending money on a temporary phone/SIM, just so I can get a hold of my own money.
I found the fact that I couldn’t even control my own money at this point completely infuriating. I was deeply disappointed with my bank for this. The only reason I was still with them in the first place, was because they were such a modern and user-friendly bank. But now they’ve gotten so modern, they have made life without a phone impossible, and they surpass the objective of being user-friendly. I am seriously considering finally making the full switch to a more ethical bank now.
On top of these regular life issues, I have to admit I was also having some mental health struggles regarding the whole debacle. I began to realise how much I use my phone as a positive coping mechanism. As I wrote in an earlier post, my mental health hasn’t been the best lately, and I am currently waitlisted for therapy. In the meantime, I need to keep myself sane. My phone helped me keep distracted from alone time and any negative thought spirals, by entertaining me with audiobooks on the way to work, music when I was doing household chores, and podcasts while I was puzzling. On the one hand I felt pathetic and weak for being so unexpectedly dependent on my phone in this way, but on the other hand, considering this concerns my mental health, it means a great deal to me that such a device can do all these things for me. I realised I’ve had a lot to be thankful for with this modern-day invention. So this goes out to my old phone, the one that made my life much easier than I ever realised. RIP my dear iPhone 6, 2016-2020.
Things I’ve learned from this experience
Going without a phone for a relatively short 48 hours was certainly a learning experience. Most of all, I was shocked how dependent I was without wanting to, like these issues with the bank.
Of course I’ve learned to never bring my phone to the bathroom again, and also that a bag of rice is not going to save your phone after it’s been in contact with water. I also found that I’m actually okay with relying on my phone if it concerns my mental health, something which I wasn’t expecting to be. Lastly, I came to the realisation that it’s best not to buy items that you can’t afford to replace if necessary. Fortunately, in this case I could, but just a couple of months ago I really wouldn’t have been able to.
I bought a refurbished iPhone 8.
Before something similarly unfortunate happens to you, I encourage you to sort out what things you currently really need your phone for. For example, I was completely dependent on my phone to sort out anything with the bank, and it pissed me off! Consider what issues you would have should you lose your phone, how much inconvenience this would cause, and what alternatives there are. In my case, I’ll be considering a bank that doesn’t rely on phones as much.
Another tip: back up your phone. You don’t necessarily have to do this through iCloud or another webserver – I always found those reminders very annoying, so I completely switched it off. I did have a back-up on my computer from early November, which saved nearly all of my data!
My last advice would be to go to a repair shop in case you and your phone meet a similar fate. They can help you out of your panic and give you very clear advice. It is guaranteed to calm you down.