“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
One of the most memorable quotes from Fight Club.
Just yesterday I was out and I stupidly misplaced my phone. The person who found it turned it off. If you could see my face the moment I realized it was gone, it would be one for the ages. I dropped everything I was doing and I dashed back to where I last remembered holding it–running through traffic, risking my life and almost getting knocked down by a car. It was one of the most harrowing experiences ever.
Everything was in my phone: my pictures, my social media accounts, my identity. My. Entire. Life. I spent the next hour trying to search for it in vain before giving up.
On my way home I had time to really think. How can losing a little device like my phone cause me so much distress? It never occurred to me how much life we put into something like our phones that may literally be gone in a second. Prior to that I had just gotten a number from a girl who I thought was really cute, and now she’s gone–all gone. But that’s not the point. It was like I was my phone and I had lost a part of myself. My Facebook account, my Gmail account, my trading account, my SD card–everything that defined who I am was taken away. I felt vulnerable. I felt exposed.
As soon as I got back I frantically disconnected any person accounts from my phone in hopes that the person didn’t impersonate me and maybe ruin my life. Luckily that didn’t happen…to the best of my knowledge, at least. It took me awhile to get my emotional state back to equilibrium before I could sleep soundly.
On hindsight, losing my phone wasn’t really all that bad. Though I would rather it stopped working instead. But the stress caused by the thought that someone out there has private information about me really put things into perspective. I realized how much modern technology has affected the way we live. I started to wonder how, if not for the invention of phones, we could approach girls, get their numbers, set up dates, etc. Back in the day when everyone was living in a small town, of course we didn’t need phones. We could just walk to our buddy’s house and ask him out for a beer. But now, it seems that we can only make plans online.
And the side effect is that people become lazy. We don’t value our time or other people’s time anymore. We arrive late for meetings and brush it off with mere apology. We make several plans simultaneously and then choose our favorite at the last minute instead of deciding early and sticking to it.
Not having my phone today forced me to manage my time better. I was supposed to meet a friend at three-thirty but I had to go and settle stuff for my phone so I messaged him on Facebook before I left to change the meeting time to four. No reply.
Nonetheless I hurried and managed to reach the meeting point just before four, I didn’t see him there. Was I early, or did he get bored and go somewhere else? Not having a phone really made planning hard when everyone else has one. As our society and networks expand, mobile phones do bring certain benefits. However, sometimes not having a phone is good too. Luckily he arrived at 4 on the dot and we carried on. However the feeling of not knowing whether he would be there was rather illuminating.
Whatever happened to “be there at 4” meaning “be there at 4?”
Looking around I see so many people preoccupied with their cell phones–some listening to music, browsing Facebook, or watching videos. We gripe that Singaporeans are unfriendly but it is only because we lost our social adeptness when smart phones were introduced. I know. I meet a lot of people. We make fun of geeks and nerds being locked up in the basement playing World of Warcraft all day and not having “people skills”, but really, even the people who go out every day have diminished social skills. They don’t know how to hold the door for others, make small talk, or even smile at strangers. It’s like we become oblivious that there are actual things called human beings around us.
Which makes street approaching much harder: to most people it’s like watching an event from another planet. Walking up to a girl you find attractive isn’t really all that amazing. But because our society is so numb to social interactions, that people think it is awkward or weird. I’m glad that there are still some–not too few but a good amount of–people who are socially adept.
One good thing about losing my phone is that it forces me to up my game. I couldn’t take any girls’ numbers anymore so I was forced to make the interaction really solid and give them my number, telling them to text me. Of the three approaches I did today (all of which were good interactions), two said they would text me back, and one actually did. Which is not bad. It kinda is like Tinder, where if the girl texts me then it means she probably enjoyed the conversation and want to continue it. The others don’t really matter.
I also find myself enjoying myself more, having more time to think and appreciate where I am and what I’m doing instead of constantly reaching for my phone (though I still have the tendency to…and then I realize I have no phone). I find myself more carefree, being more responsible for my time and plans. Of course I can’t totally eradicate technology from my life. As I mentioned, society has expanded and in order to make plans, I still have to use WhatsApp or Facebook. But from now on I’m gonna leave it at home and disconnect from the world when I’m out. When I say I’ll be there, I’ll be there. And you damn well be there on the appointed hour as well.
At the most I’ll carry around a shitty non-smart (stupid?) phone to take emergencies. But for now I’m going to try to live disconnected and enjoy life. I would much rather keep my identity safe with me than to bring it out and risk going through all that again.
If you found this post useful, great! But all that knowledge means nothing until you put it into action. Stop procrasturbating and start taking action...first by being a part of our closed-doors, roundtable of elite players in Singapore. Click here to see how you can get access to The Social Gym and start working your social muscles.