Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Name is Michael

I’ve just had what you might call an intervention.

I guess I was in denial. You know the tune: I’m not dependent on it, I’m just a casual user, I can quit any time. It’s a comfortable little lie to live inside of, until something happens…

So, yeah, this morning, my Smartphone broke.

I visited most of the seven stages of grief—desperation, disbelief, bargaining, anger, hope—everything except acceptance. I performed CPR (Continually Pressing Reset) and tried defibrillation by plugging it back into the charger, but nothing worked. It happened hours ago and I’m still carrying my poor, dead phone around in my pocket, like Kala, the gorilla-mother of Tarzan, who continued to clutch her dead baby to her chest until she found a substitute in the white-skinned child. And like Kala, I’m still taking out its cold, dead body to shake it and press the ON/OFF button, hoping against hope that it will miraculously come back to life.

I was going to post a photo of my dead Smartphone,
but I need my Smartphone to take the photo.
Oh, the humanity!
I think my lack of acceptance is because it happened so suddenly. If it had been behaving strangely, or had a warranty about to expire, I might have been more emotionally prepared for it. But it was so sudden. Its alarm went off this morning, like always, I turned it off, unplugged it from the charger, checked my e-mail, updated my Garmin Activity-Tracker, read a few news articles, and put it on the desk beside me.

Not five minutes later, I got an e-mail saying I had a message from HMRC telling me I needed to log into their site to get an important message from them. (For you US readers, HMRC stands for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which is the UK version of the IRS, and like the IRS, you do NOT ignore messages from them.) So I went to the site, put in my username and password and got a screen telling me they had—for security reasons—sent a text, containing the access key, to my mobile phone.

As soon as I picked up the phone, I knew something was wrong. It seemed colder than usual, less lively, less animated. I felt a chill bloom in my stomach. And then I looked into its blank, dead face. It was, it was…sorry, I can’t talk about it.

Since then, I’ve missed several alarms that were to go off to remind me to do things, I couldn’t check my schedule, I couldn’t use the satnav, I couldn’t look anything up, I couldn’t listen to any music, I couldn’t access the calculator. The emptiness stretched on and on.

It was then that I realized I had a problem, so I checked (on my laptop, because my phone…well, you know) for some group to help me, someone going through the same thing I was, and to my relief, there is an  organization to assist people like me. It’s called by the unwieldy name of Addicted to Smartphone (Small, Handheld Or Large) Electronic Systems, but is better known by the acronym ASSHOLES.

It was a relief to know I was in good company. Those people who use their Smartphones in the cinema or the theatre, they are ASSHOLES, the couples in restaurants who, over dinner, ignore each other and spend the evening glued to their Smartphones, they are ASSHOLES, the people who cluster in front of paintings in an art gallery taking photos of it on their Smartphones, they are ASSHOLES, the people on the train who shout into their Smartphones, “I’M ON THE TRAIN…” they are ASSHOLES, as are the people who wander into traffic while sending texts, or take calls while they are driving. They are, like me, all ASSHOLES.

But now that I know I’m one of the ASSHOLES, I can start my recovery. I can begin to start learning to live without my Smartphone, to be more self reliant, to realize I don’t have to be connected all the time. And someday, by the grace of God, and by taking it one day at a time, I may no longer be one of the ASSHOLES.

Yeah, her, too.
I am, however, going to go out promptly tomorrow morning to see if I can get my phone fixed. It’s okay though, really, I don’t have a problem. I’m not dependent on it, or anything, I’m just a casual user, I can quit any time.

If you want to find out if you are one of the ASSHOLES, take this quiz:


  1. I don't dare take that quiz. But I have to say that I may well be lost without my iPhone. I could get along without it, but WHY?? It's just so handy... and especially for those of us whose memory may be less than perfect. I hope that by now you have yours up and running.

    1. I went out and got a new one the next day. All better now, and with more memory -- the phone, not me.

      I went through an "I can do without that modern nonsense" phase, but then I thought, well, if the technology is there, why not use it. And it has, I must admit, made my life a lot easier.