It’s been difficult couple of days in the world of Room101 and my continuing battle with all things digital. It all began, when disaster apparently struck, on Monday night.

You see, I’m a creature of habit. Also, I like things to be organised and tidy. In fact, the maxim of;

“a place for everything and everything in its place”,

could have been invented for me. Not only is this a behavioural trait of mine, it’s actually helped me many times in the past and has got me out of all sorts of dodgy situations. Furthermore, it actually suits my lifestyle rather well. So, when I got home from work the other evening, I did what I always do.

I emptied my car of all camera equipment and other work related paraphernalia, got together the equipment that I’d be needing the following day, put what wasn’t going to be needed away and then, went through my personal routine i.e. a routine that has nothing to do with work and is something that I do for me. This entails, emptying my pockets, putting stuff in the same strategic places, getting changed into slob-type clothes, having a bit of a wash, making a coffee and sitting down with my first cigarette of the day. After all of that, I think about dinner.

By now, 9:00pm was fast approaching and two things needed to be addressed (again, part of my usual routine). One, what to eat? Two, put my mobile phone on charge if required and, set the alarm for the mornings wake up. I wasn’t particularly hungry so decided to make myself some toast and maybe have a little cheese from my recently purchased variety pack. Having reached this momentous decision, I reached for my mobile phone on the coffee table where it usually lives unless it’s on charge. Horror of horrors, it wasn’t there!

I searched high and low. I retraced my steps from the moment I got home. I looked in the car. I looked everywhere. It was nowhere to be found. Now, at this point, you’re probably asking yourselves:

“why didn’t he just use the house phone and ring the damned thing?”

Answer: the house phone hasn’t worked for years. Seriously, it’s been at least three years since that stupid contraption stopped working. Which suited me just fine. At least I wasn’t getting calls that I didn’t want to answer. Calls trying to sell me everything from double glazing to pension plans to all manner of insurances. Calls that tell me that I’ve won life changing sums of money if only I can spare the caller a few moments of my time. Calls, quite frankly, that drive me absolutely insane.

So, after a thorough search, I determined that I must have left it at work. This niggled me quite a lot because I was certain that I had put it in my pocket, as I always do. But, no other reasonable explanation came to mind. Consequently, I calmed down, psyched myself up to awake, on time, without the need for an alarm (I woke up half an earlier than normal) and settled down to watch a bit of TV. All thoughts of food had long since vanished.

I got to work the next morning an hour earlier than usual because I woke up earlier and, at that time of the day, traffic had not yet built up to its usual levels, only to find…………no bloody phone!

Bugger, bugger, bugger!

This was doubly disconcerting because, as you may have gathered from the above, I’m a photographer and, I don’t work in the same geographical location day after day after day after day. Sometimes, I get hired for a shoot that will take a few days, maybe even weeks so, in those instances, work is the same place. At least, it is for a little while. Generally speaking, however, work can be anywhere.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working for a very well known, very prestigious, global car brand. Sod it, I may as well tell you who it is. I’ve been working for Porsche! Yep, I had to pick myself up off the floor too when I got the assignment.

I’ve been hired to go to various car dealerships all over the south east of England and shoot the showrooms, people at work, any events that they are putting on and all sorts of other pics that add atmosphere and generally show the brand in a positive light. To this end, HO have set me up with a little work area where I can do any post-production editing, make appointments for shoots at branch level and generally liaise with the PR and Marketing team. And that’s when the trouble began.

You see dear reader, PR and Marketing is staffed by bright and shiny young things who are not only extremely well organised but are also freakishly obsessed with all the tech gadgets currently available. So, when word got out about my errant mobile phone, two of them came to my little work space and took charge of the man…….ooops, phonehunt.

Bright Young Thing brandished the slab of tech gadgetry that I’d seen her walking around with constantly, tapped away at the screen for a few seconds and then thrust it towards me instructing me to type in my iTunes login and password (we’d already established that I had an iPhone).

“Why?” I asked.

“Because there’s the findmyphone app which uses GPS technology to locate your phone” relished BYT.

“erm……..I’ve got the GPS disabled.” I quietly admitted.

“Oh! Er……….uhm………er………….OK. I’m sure it’ll still work because of the WiFi connection”.

“That’s switched off too”.

Now BYT was getting rather flustered.

“Why?” she asked, looking decidedly bemused and bewildered.

“I just use my phone to make calls and send texts. I don’t bother with all that other stuff” was my feeble reply.

Shiny Young Thing stepped into the breach.

“We’ll just have to ring it and go round the whole building listening out for it”.

Out came her own slab of tech gadgetry. My god! It was a phone! I thought that it was some kind of palm device or one of those tablet thingies that everybody and his aunt seems to have. Whatever happened to the idea that mobile phones were small, discrete and well, mobile. We are regressing. Pretty soon we will be back to the Motorola bricks that the yuppies of the 80’s used as status symbols.

“Erm, it’s on silent mode. Look, don’t worry about it. If it’s not in here, it must be at home. I couldn’t have looked for it properly last night. Don’t worry. It’ll turn up”.

BYT and SYT looked at me agog.

“How can you be so chilled about it,” they said in unison. “I’d die if I lost my mobile phone. My whole life is on it.”

They hugged their tech slabs to their beasts and left my little work space whispering and tutting to themselves.

Oh yeah, the mobile phone was on my coffee table where it was meant to be. I’d put a letter on top of it and didn’t think to lift it up during my own hunt for the errant phone the previous evening.

xxRoom101xx xxRoom101xx
41-45, M
3 Responses May 24, 2015

I love this!!! I really did lose my personal phone as I was preparing to go into hospital a few weeks ago (must have slipped out of my bag somewhere). I finally got around to reporting it lost this week and was repeatedly advised by the young lady on the help desk "not to panic" . . . I had no intention of doing so! It is just a gadget at the end of the day. I have tried not to become over-dependent on it. It's loss is an inconvenience, but I still have a good memory and anything of importance that was on it can be retrieved one way of the other :-)

taking an example from my good pal Douglas Adams, i think that all mobile phones should be emblazoned with the legend "Don't Panic!" large friendly letters :D

This is an amusing little story. :-)

People do get so very dramatic about their phones and other devices. :p I've learned over the years to (mostly) leave well enough alone. I'm still sometimes surprised how freaked out people still get though-even in your story, or how they claim they'd just "die". Most everything is retrievable if one bothers to use those cloud based thingies...or heck have backup plans. At least that's the case for my Android phone. I've always thought a battery drained, or damaged or lost phone should be merely a very minor inconvenience...and never akin to losing a close friend or like leaving a child behind in the shopping mall.

cloud based thingies??????? far more simple solution:
a) have a phone book
b) maintain an appointments diary
c) only use a phone as a phone ie what it's intended to be

oh Sara.........oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

"you mean voice calls? Yeah, no, hardly ever do that. I use my phone as it was intended"

you do know what the word telephone means right. just in case (with thanks to our friends at wikipedia):

"A telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic signals suitable for transmission via cables or other transmission media over long distances, and replays such signals simultaneously in audible form to its user."

the key point here is that it's an auditory device that allows the transmission and reception of sound. THAT'S it's intended use.

as to all of your "constantly backed up" google powered devices, they all require accessibility (and no small amount of faith on the security) of the internet.

As someone who uses a paper appointments diary/planner, and a kind of paper phone book and generally uses her phone for calls/texting and little else...I totally understand. But I can't see anyone born from 1991 or so on using anything but thier phones and tablet computers for everything. so, I just can't see your simple solution working. I've had to start leaving texts to all the new little 18 year olds that I'm helping train at work even...because they just seem incapable to...or simply don't check their actual mailboxes or the staff notebooks and stuff at work or any of the spots that all us over 24 year olds use to leave important notes to each other.

And also...even though relying on the security of the Internet for alot of things is pretty stupid. Paper bookkeeping is only so secure too, Roomie.

i agree with you Sarah but, i will continue to fight the good fight lol. otherwise, who knows what the next generation of little 18 year olds will be like ;-p

Sara, you know that the 18 year old thing wasn't directed at you right.

Obviously I can't speak for Sarah's intent but it seems pretty self-evident to me that we were both talking about current and future 18 year olds. Also, I don't think that any of us is doubting the efficiency of many aspects of the digital age. However, my post isn't about efficiency. As the name of this group tells us, it's about behaviour. The behaviour of being constantly reliant (obsessively so in many cases) on a piece of hardware to the extent that we:
a) Judge others who are not so reliant
b) Are unable to utilise our brains in their most basic of functions
c) Insist that we would be lost without this piece of hardware
d) Panic at the loss of this piece of hardware
And so on and so forth.

Sara, you and i have never met in real life. i have no idea how good you are at mimicking a British accent. however, i'm pretty sure that you were neither Bright Young Thing nor Shiny Young Thing in my above story. consequently, i fail to see why you're taking this discussion so personally. i've made it very clear that i'm not directing any of my comments to you, or Lauren, specifically.

this is a general discussion about behaviours and attitudes as related to digital media.

if you want to talk about this on a personal level then perhaps you should know that i am considered, by my real world friends and acquaintances, as the guy who is first to own and use new tech. i was the first to have a desk top computer in my home. i was the first to own a lap top. i am the only one of my friends to own and use a satellite phone. it was me who encouraged my friends to get webcams and use video conferencing (long before webcams came as standard on computers and phones alike and long before Skype was a thing). i could go on but again, that's not the point. the point is about the general attitudes and behaviours i see around me almost on a daily basis.

I'm sorry for teasing you from time to time about how you have your digital life. I know you are 20 and not 18, and believe it or not, I wasn't even thinking about you when I was writing what I did above. You are a practical sort of person Sara. And I admire that, and you appear to use your phone and everything to communicate with people you are close to, to organize your life and such. My point is that you try to use it to enhance your life. And I can appreciate that...even if I don't embrace all the things you do on your lieu of killing alot more trees to stay organized. ;p

But I look at some of the little 18 year olds who are going into college, practically glued at the face with thier phone...and to their video games...and life seems to run and stop at those two things...everything revolves around when they can get back to their phone...or whatever. They don't do anything else...and when they do...they are either sullen about it, or really bad at it. They panic at having to figure something out all by themselves...without someone or something doing it for them. There attention wanders enough on a daily basis to the degree that they struggle to stay off thier phone and other digital stuff long enough to even get off at the right freaking off ramp from the know? And that is something that bothers me alot.

And I imagine that at that University of yours, you had a number of dropouts that fit that description.

good conversations evolve. sometimes they meander along and sometimes they take all kinds of tributaries. however, in order to reach any kind of understanding, we have to come back to the point being explored in the conversation. my point is not the value of the digital age. my point is not about the convenience of digital media. it's certainly not about the usage of the internet. it's about how these two young women reacted and subsequently behaved as soon as they heard that i'd lost my mobile phone.

they left their busy work schedules and immediately came to help me find my phone. they were completely bewildered at my lack of concern. they were mortified when they discovered that both the GPS and WiFi features were turned off. for god's sakes, i live in one of he biggest, mostly densely populated cities in the world. i live in an island nation where i have to travel hundreds of miles just to find a little oasis of truly open landscape. even then you can bet your life that, within a few hours, i'll see people. so why do i need GPS on my phone. so that i can post crap on social media telling my "friends" exactly where i am in both space and time? so that i can track down my phone if i were to lose it. i've never lost a phone in my life. ever!

also, have you noticed that all of the examples that you gave for people not using their brains and dropping out of college etc all involve digital media. well except for the TV. on that comment ;-p

we used red clay mixed with water. we couldn't use charcoal because fire hadn't been invented yet ;-p

crap! do you really think that they simply wanted to hang out with me? yet another opportunity lost my oblivious me :(

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i'm one of those shiny young things Roomie :-D how can you live without an iPhone? I don't know men jeeeeeez

Lauren have you seen that add on the TV recently about some kind of telephone directory service? it starts off by talking about the days when people remembered important telephone numbers and concludes........."how sad".

my reaction: WTF!!!! how can it be "sad" to actually use our brains for what they designed and built for. what's sad is putting our brains in jar and relying on gadgets for everything.

please understand, i'm not directing my comments to you specifically. i just figured that, as a fellow Brit, you may have seen the add.

I watch very little t.v. Roomie, it rots your brain.

this is an argument that i've heard many times, with all sorts of variations on the theme.

to me, it doesn't hold. our brains are rooted in memory and recall with the analytical aspect coming into play only after the data has been initially assimilated via our various sensory inputs. therefore, whilst i agree that there must always be a balance between learning by memory and being able to analyse information, diminishing our power of memory and recall compromises all that our brain is designed to do.

another variation of this same argument brings into play examples of how our civilizations changed and improved with each new technological advance. moving from nomadic hunter/gatherers to stationery communities because of the advent of agriculture. the mechanization of the industrial age. and so on and so forth. here the parallel is that, because our time and energy was freed up from the necessities of survival, our brains were free to explore new ideas and create new innovations both in terms of technology and in ideology.

again, to me, this argument doesn't hold. our previous leaps in technology freed us from manual and physical stresses and demands. demands which were compromising our cognitive abilities. this time around, we are compromising our cognitive abilities through non-use. and, just like any other organ, if you don't use it, it eventually atrophies and becomes useless.

finally, i would argue that it's because of Google et all that your contemporaries find it difficult to make decisions. too much pointless information without the training and discipline of discernment. too much overall choice about anything and everything. in short, BBB syndrome!

A bit like watching too much t.v. Roomie ;-) personally i'm a voracious reader and after shying away from technology in the shape of Kindle Sammy got me one for xmas. I quite like it,never thought i'd say that...blasted technology lol

so that's where i'm going wrong hahahaha

I'm somewhere in the middle of those two views a bit. Have been ever since I was disappointed with my brain...when I discovered that I suddenly seemed to suck at remembering new phone numbers a couple years after I purchased my first cell phone back in 2007. I can recall and recite phone numbers from friends and work numbers and family from before that year...but after? Hahaha. Unlikely. I still recall most of my friends and family's old numbers and have to shake myself to remember the new ones without looking them up.

the inability to recall phone numbers isn't, in and of itself, a major disaster. unless, of course, you happen to be in some strange location and the battery on your phone has died and you need help of some kind.

no, it's not the remembering of phone numbers that's the issue, it's not training our brains to store and recall data.

Store and recall...precisely what I was getting at, Roomie. It was just the phone number thing that first made me think about how one's use of things -like computers and phones can effect how we are able to use our brain effectively for tasks.

my point in a nutshell :)

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