Saturday 22 October 2016

Ian O'Doherty: A week in electronic exile -- it's harder than it sounds

Published 07/12/2012 | 17:00

Well, I made it. But just barely. If you read the column the other day (and if you didn't then spend 20 minutes sitting in the naughty chair as you write me a letter of apology) you might remember that I mentioned I'd lost my phone charger and had yet to get a new one.

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As soon as my mobile went dead last Saturday I immediately prepared to head into town to get a replacement.

And then I thought . . . hang on a minute. Would it be so bad to spend a few days without a phone?

After all, I'm constantly banging on to people about how pathetically reliant we have become on modern technology.

In fact, we have become slaves to the machine.

Indeed, virtually everyone I know displays the classic signs of addiction when it comes to their phone.

My wife is a perfect example of this modern technophilia.

I've lost count of the number of times we'd be leaving the house and before the car starts she ends up frantically rooting through her bag in case she has forgotten to put her phone there -- I know she put it in there. She knows she has it in there.

But even so, double checking is the order of the day, and it wouldn't matter even if we're just going to the cinema where she wouldn't be able to turn the thing on -- it still has to be by her side.

On one occasion, when she thought that she had indeed left her phone at home (she hadn't, it was just at the bottom of that great unknown that is the contents of a woman's handbag) I simply said: "Would it kill you to go a few hours without that bloody phone?"

"But what if Annette rings?" was the simple reply.

Case closed. Argument over.

Annette might ring so therefore we would have had to turn around and go back to the house if she hadn't found it.

For the record, she speaks to this mysterious 'Annette' every day, so it wasn't as if she was eagerly anticipating a rare communique.

But given that this week sees the 20th anniversary of the very first ever SMS text message, I thought it perversely fitting to go . . . myeh, include me out.

Let's put it this way -- the next time you're walking down the road, keep an eye out for the number of people who are far more intent on having a conversation on their phone than they are on the traffic around them.

Indeed, there was some rather hilarious CCTV footage released in Britain last week of a bloke busily texting -- as he walks slap bang into a lamp post and receives a nasty blow to the head.

In fact, I have even seen cyclists texting.

Now, I'm not a fan of cyclists at the best of times.

In Dublin, at least, they contain amongst their number far too many rude, ignorant and downright dangerous bipedal nutters.

When I saw one guy merrily texting as he cycled down Terenure Road I just thought two words: "Darwin awards."

So I resolved to have at least a week's peace and quiet away from that really annoying ring tone that I don't know how to change.

After all, my boss has my home number; my brother and sister have my home number and, rather obviously, the wife has it as well.

So in the event of an emergency I wasn't completely off the grid -- my electronic exile was partial rather than complete.

No, what I was trying to do was to simply reclaim some of my own time.

Far too much of our time is spent trying to decipher incomprehensible texts from people who couldn't be bothered to take the time to talk to you in person.

No, I was taking a firm, principled stance and was not for turning, despite the number of people who said I was mad.

So, did I learn anything from my brave, nay dare I say, heroic, principled stance?

Yeah, sure I did.

I learned that I really need to get a new feckin' charger as soon as possible.

In fact, I'm going to buy two so that when I lose one of them (as I know I surely shall) at least I'll have a backup.

Because between yourself and myself, I've spent the last week going ever so slightly increasingly mad without that damned phone.

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