Texts and The City: Me and My Phone

Why running out of battery is actually a good thing.

Being in London, or any big city for that matter, a phone is your lifeline. Even ‘meeting at Pret’ is a recipe for disaster when you realise that there are five of them on the same road. But we’ve all been there: the dreaded beep; the threatening ‘5% battery’ warning; the fear that your poor electronic baby won’t make it, and fizzle out before it’s possible for charger-led resuscitation.

But surely there are very few instances in our lives when a lack of phone is a life or death situation. So why does a disconnection from the virtual world scare us more than the prospect of Justin Bieber becoming Prime Minister? (or does it…?)

I’m going to throw it out there – I think phones running out of battery, wifi not connecting, 3G being unavailable, is a blessing in disguise. Recently, at a shopping centre, my phone decided to warn me of imminent shutdown, and indicate a dangerously close proximity to complete battery loss. Luckily for us in this day and age, places like malls are starting to offer charging booths, which I could plug my phone into free of charge for half an hour. I sighed a sigh of deep relief. *sigh*

For a whole 30 minutes, an entire half an hour, a staggering 48th of a day, I was phoneless. I wandered around, an empty pocket, disconnected from the ever updating and constantly notifying online universe. Nobody knew where I was: no one was tracking my precise location via GPS, no one was getting an instant emoji-heavy text response. There were emails unopened, Snap-chats un-viewed, and phone-calls unanswered. I felt strangely free. I felt like I could have hopped on a train to Paris, spent an afternoon in the Louvre, gone for cocktails on the Champs Elysees, and nobody would have a clue what I was up to. Was this what liberation felt like?

Of course, I could have made my way to the French capital. After all, it sounded like an adventure. But I had to be back at the charging booth in 28 minutes, to collect my phone. It was missing me.

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