I was in a rush to leave the house this afternoon. I did not want to be late as I decided to take a bus to my destination. In the midst of getting my personal belongings, I forgot to take my handphone out of its charger. I only realised it missing when I was at the bus-stop. By then, the bus had pulled over and, of course, it was too late to go home for it.
Thus, I spent about five hours out without my handphone.
And the feeling was great.
Forgetting to bring my handphone out with me is definitely not my second nature. I admit, I too had fallen trapped to glueing my eyes to the little device, but I can actually live without it. Not say I am prone to forgetting the handphone when I go out, on the contrary, I always remember to bring it with me, tucked safely into my bag, especially when I leave for work. However, I can recall quite vividly the time I forgot to do so, and it was on a work day. At first, I was worried; worried about missed calls and text messages from home, students’ parents or external instructors. And then, as time passed, I slowly let go, sinking into the comfort and liberation of being without a handphone, and the stress that somehow came with it.
Yes. I actually felt liberated. Carefree. Freedom.
Of course, before I could feel the euphoria, I let my family and certain colleagues know that my handphone was left at home on that day.
Dealing with the missed calls and text messages when I got home simply could not beat my day-long freedom.
I grew up in an age when the handphone was making a splash during my teens. Then, the big players were Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Apple was still more known for making computers and the ipod. My first handphone was a small grey Sony Ericsson, which had a little blunt antenna sticking out, and I was given it by my older brother when I was 15. Thinking about it makes me smile. So old school, eh? 🙂
Back then, the handphone was still considered a luxury. Not everyone could afford it. For me, it was a convenient communication tool for my parents to get in touch with me, especially when I ended school late due to choir practices or studying sessions with my best friend at the neighbourhood library.
Fast forward ten odd years and, my gosh! I have students practically weeping and begging at my feet when I confiscated their handphones during lessons! In the first place, they should not even be looking at their handphones during lessons. The best part was, they told me they would “die” without their handphones!!! So much drama. Being the sarcastic me, especially infront of them, I would say, “After you had finished dying, see me tomorrow for it”. Pfft! As if they would die without their precious handphones after one day.
Ever since the little telephone was made mobile and easily obtainable and affordable, people have stopped looking and talking, but instead, they are glued to the little screens or else checking the little machines every few seconds, as if the world was going to end if they did not do so. And there I was, having dinner with my mother at a Japanese restaurant this evening, without my handphone, and what was I doing while waiting for my meal to be served? Obviously, I was looking around and at the other restaurant customers. “Stop and smell the roses”. In my case, I stopped and watched other people who were busy fiddling with their little gadgets; dating couples having a conversation without actually looking at each other across the table, friends scrolling through their individual handphones with silences in between. My word! Is this what our existenence have become? Centred on these small but expensive gadgets? Where is the person-to-person conversation? Where is the eye-to-eye contact? Where is the Human touch?
I wonder whether the people who created this handphone ever regretted their invention. Sure, it is a great deal of convenience for us all, and a whole lot of money for them. Over the ten odd years, the simple handphone has been upgraded from the dial and text, and the occasional Snake game, to a totally new hybrid of a smartphone. We can now do literally anything with it; make handsfree calls while driving, listen to music, listen to the radio, watch telly dramas or films on the public transport, make recordings (both audio and video) and then uploading directly online, taking photos and photo-editing it, and of course, not to forget, text messaging, with voice control. Wow. The list, and possibilities, are endless.
I am not condemning the smartphone. I am actually happy with it, like, hey! I can blog on my iphone5. But as I was sitting there in the restaurant, I was also looking at my mother who was seated across me, and I took a good look at her, noticing her greying hair, and the crows-feet near her eyes, and how she seemed to have lost weight. All of these I had not really noticed until this evening.
What I am saying is simply this.
When was the last time you set your handphone aside and had a proper meal, and a proper conversation, with your loved ones?
When did you last stop and look at your surroundings?
When did you stop to smell the roses?