When you factor in barely three hours of sleep, some extremely last minute packing and arranging a huge convoy of six cars on a nine-hour road trip across roughly 300 kilometres and a few states in two countries, you’re bound to forget a couple of things in the mad rush of fitting all the luggage bags and various children in separate cars. For me, the inexplicable had happened. I’d forgotten to bring my phone on a four-day vacation in another country.
The funny thing was, I’d brought along my phone charger, as well as a camera and even my laptop (because I’m a recovering workaholic), but it wasn’t like I could just whip out my laptop and do a Facebook live video at the mall. And a camera was great and all, but again, it wasn’t like I could have instantly updated my Instagram feed like I’d usually do. And Instagram doesn’t even have an official desktop app yet, so that led to many, many Google searches for third-party apps using terrible hotel WiFi.
(Being without a cellphone can either make or break you, and I refused to let it hinder my holiday ethics: that is, to post glorious photos of the sea and family jump shots on the shore.)
It’s even funnier that despite all of the other technological devices I had, I was still rather upset at myself for forgetting what seemed like the essential tool for a vacation, and it wasn’t even because of the difficulty of accessing social media on the go.
I haven’t worn a watch ever since I started carrying around a cellphone. How was I going to be able to tell the time when I’m laden with shopping bags and no clock in sight?
I was supposed to meet up with a childhood friend that had moved away. How was I suppose to contact them in this completely different country when I didn’t even have a foreign line, much less a phone to use that line?
I was about to be confined to a car for an entire day, and I had no way at all of distracting myself from the monotony of rough country roads and endless green plains while everyone else napped when it was my turn to drive.
These concerns I had might sound petty, and they probably were, in hindsight.
It took me about five hours (so, when I was stuck in the car with no form of entertainment) to admit that, yes, I am way too reliant on my phone, even when I’m supposed to be shut off from work and other responsibilities. There was a constant nagging feeling in the back of my mind, and I can’t deny the tendrils of envy I’d have whenever all of us sat down for meals and everyone else took out their phones to check their messages or social media feeds, and I’d be left awkwardly drumming the cutlery on the table.
And yet, even without my phone, it was impossible to be remotely unplugged when I was surrounded by other technological devices. The beach resort we stayed at had the most breathtaking view of the sea and all I’d wanted to do was capture it over and over again with my phone (or in this case, my camera). I’d catch up on TV shows with my laptop in the evenings after dinner, and the cycle repeated for nearly the entire holiday.
But I couldn’t help thinking just how much easier everything would have been if I’d had my phone with me to do all of these things. And yet, I’d survived the trip without my phone, if surviving meant being completely dependent on my laptop, camera and everyone else’s phone if I’d wanted to know what time it was.
Therefore, having just returned from said vacation, I can safely say that I’d met with all of the above challenges and more, and came out the other side relatively unscathed, and with a slightly better appreciation of just how much the cellphone has replaced many other tools in our lives.
(Doesn’t mean I’ll be doing it anytime soon, though. The amount of panic that enveloped us every time the GPS didn’t work on the only phone with the foreign line and no way to alleviate the situation was not pleasant at all.)