I was in an o2 shop the other day to get PAYG top-up (yes, yes, I know I can do it all from my mobile, I just prefer doing it at a shop with a real person rather than “press three”, etc) and I found myself idly looking at mobile phones.  I have had my current HTC Desire Z for almost two years and it’s the first mobile I’ve ever had that I haven’t wanted to replace after about a year, having by then lost interest in the current phone and having wanted something new and exciting.

I was left pondering whether my lack of interest in other phones was because I don’t want to pay for another one unnecessarily (after all, my HTC cost more than I got for the sale of my last car), the technology hasn’t improved much, or at leasn’t doesn’t pique my interest, or whether I am just content with my mobile.  I’m pleased, whatever the reason, because I really can’t justify the money on a new smartphone.

I started off with a series of reasonably basic mobiles, then shortly after the second round of iPhones came out I got one, and with it I was introduced to decent internet access on my mobile.  There is now no way I can imagine not having that.  But I was desperate to get rid of the iPhone after a few months (iSmash followed by a new phone for the c£140 they charge, freezing screen, it not being a particularly good phone, poor battery life and too many quirks/irritations).  I then got a ludicrously huge Dell Streak, which I returned and got a full refund for after it crashed pretty much beyond repair and was just ludicrously big and cumbersome.  I then got a small Sony mobile with touch screen and QWERTY keyboard and then this HTC, which also has both.  It is probably for that reason that I still love it.  The Sony, incidentally, I got to replace the HTC for the six months I couldn’t use it (but that is another very long and bizarre story involving a dreadful online phone shop, The Order, horrid Vodafone, with whom I’ve never had any dealings and who I now would never touch with a barge pole, and a small claims court).  The Sony is a bit clunky, whereas the HTC is quite refined.  I’ve had the keyboard replaced, free of charge, once but for now all is good.  I just know I like having a keyboard and a touch screen.

This really isn’t a riveting post but I feel strangely disappointed that modern mobile phones don’t fill me with the excitement they used to.  Maybe because having internet access on a mobile is the peak of my technological interest and as it’s good on the HTC, why would I want another phone that is even more (totally wasted on me) all singing/all dancing!

Mind you, ultimately, I would love a more simple phone, so much of my HTC is wasted on me!


Thanks to o2, I have had a few days without mobile phone reception, though I have had internet access.  Admittedly, I haven’t needed to arrange to meet anyone or had any pressing need to text or phone.  If I had, this would have been more of a rant, and rightly so considering I am paying but not going.  To my surprise, I’m not even fully aware whether my mobile is properly working yet as I am enjoying not constantly checking it, “just in case”.

I was quite late getting a mobile phone, late 2001 being when I succumbed.  For the first few years (I might be exaggerating, I don’t know), I pretty much only used it for emergencies (ie it was off but with me) and to meet friends.  Now I am left feeling alone and lost if my mobile is not about my person or at home with me.  For the past few days, I have made good use of my train journey time without the constant disruption of reading, replying to and writing texts.  My mobile phone in that sense has become my priority.  I might be engrossed in a book, writing something; but my phone will pip (or I will wonder why it hasn’t yet pipped so check to see if I’ve missed a pip – annoying!) and I will immediately down tools and scrabble frantically in my bag for my phone.  It’s also like the elephant in the room if you’re chatting to someone and your mobile pips.  You both hear it and the person without the pipping phone knows that the one with the pipping phone desperately wants to see who’s texting.  So rude.  But most of us do it, ie make our wretched phone our priority and abandon conversation to check it.

Since the last time I ranted about mobile phones, I have made a fairly successful effort to not have my mobile in the room with me so I can’t hear it going off.  But when I do check it, I feel bad about not having replied to any texts I see have been there for a few hours … proof that I am only good at responding to texts in a timely manner if I receive them and reply straight away, because my phone is a kind of addiction.  Which makes me see how a chunk of time can seemingly disappear as you enter into a text exchange relay.  I’m not complaining because it’s cool having an almost real time exchange … hang on, isn’t that what phone calls are for?!  I suppose the point there is an observation that communication has changed enormously since, for example, when I was a teenager, ie the time in my life when friends were a constant source of advice, information and ears to bend – how different my childhood would have been with a mobile phone.  I had to get permission from my parents before I could use the telephone so I rarely used the phone, but I did have friends who lived close by and we talked face to face.

For a few days without my mobile phone (though I emphasise again I did have email so was in touch with a few people, but email on my mobile isn’t intrusive like texts and calls; I only know I have emails if I check) I surprised myself by actually enjoying not having the interruption.  However, maybe because I did have email, to have left my phone at home would probably still have rendered me a bit twitchy, but I toyed with the idea of leaving my phone at home and I would never normally even entertain such a ludicrous suggestion as to leave my phone at home.  *Shakes head incredulously*

Could you cope without your mobile phone?  Do you know anyone who doesn’t use a mobile phone?  A friend and I had a discussion about how life was when none of us had mobile communication.  We both agreed there were a lot of pros and cons.
At 18 a friend and I went Inter Railing.  We had no phones or internet.  Our parents didn’t know where we were, even what countries we were in until they got a postcard or the odd brief phonebox call.  I can’t imagine how worrying that would have been for them.
Had we had mobiles with internet access, we’d have been taking photos, posting them on Facebook, smugly texting and updating our status from exciting places, texting and emailing from the trains.  But we had adventures away from a public forum, part of the excitement was the unknown, we looked out of train windows, we took photos with 35mm cameras, months before we’d ever see our photos.  As it happens, our
cameras got nicked.  I expect our phones would’ve gone too (now that would’ve been a major panic!).
Nowadays, I think we miss a lot that goes on around us because we have our eyes on our phones.  I also think it makes people lazy.  How many texts do you get along these lines: “Running 20mins late”.  Which you receive when you’ve arrived on time at your meeting place.  It’s been a long time since I’ve made an exact plan – meet you at 11 by the clock tower – because plans can be vague – c u Charing X @ 11.  There will then b 1105 texts – Soz, running late – then – I’m by platform 6 – then – just thru plat 1 barrier – so she by platform 6 will head to platform 1, by which time platform 1 has read previous text and, eyes to phone, heads to platform 6 … You get my drift.
I used to go out without my mobile.  I would often get complaints that friends I was meeting couldn’t get hold of me … to tell me they were late/what was I wearing/should they bring a brolly.  Admittedly, it would make me feel alone and disconnected, and I’d have no phone to play with while waiting like Billy-no-mates.  But once the evening was in full swing, I’d be glad of not having distractions.
I have been out with friends and had a shock awakening that all of us are on our phones.  Once upon a time non-smoking pubs were a novelty and there were people who wanted that unsmokey environment.  I want to go out to a pub that has no mobile phone reception.  In London or whichever town/city/village I’m in.  I want to have and give undivided attention to the friends I’m with who I always complain I don’t see often enough.  I want us to forget the name of a childhood TV presenter, spend ages going through names of other presenters, laugh about our memories, or, “Oo, oo, I think it begins with an M”, and two hours later someone shouts out “Marti Caine”.  It’s great that we can race each other to Google it (is it?), it gives us that, “Oh, of course!”.  But I like the shared experience of trying to remember it.
I know I often moan about mobiles and people being out and focussing more on their beeping, flashing, ringing phones.  But I would feel lost and lonely without mine.  And it does mean I am in contact with friends more.  I just wish we turned them off more.  And for my next holiday, I want to leave my phone at home.

It’s a friend’s birthday.  I wish them happy birthday by text, then I see people have wished them happy birthday on Facebook, so I leave a comment there too.   I wonder if I should phone and/or email.  But I am seeing them this evening for drinks.  Facebook pressure.

Through another Facebook friend I realised I’d been de-friended by someone.  I felt a surge of upset and left-out-ness.  Then I had a reality check, after a little bit of but-why-would-she-want-to-defriend/dump/cull-me soul searching.  I don’t blame her for defriending me.  We barely knew each other the 12 or so years ago we last worked in the same place, we didn’t keep in touch for a reason (I think it was Facebook that suggested we should be friends because of a mutual friend), we didn’t once comment on the other’s Facebook and I did feel like a bit of a voyeur in her life.  I didn’t and I don’t know her, just over this surreal cyber world.

I find I am subjected to schoolgirl feelings through Facebook, “Oh no, [X] has more friends than me, [Y]’s comments get more likes or comments than mine, [Z] has a better photo than me”.  It goes on.  And it’s not pretty.

I was “friends” with someone I was at university with for my first year.  I sent her messages a few times, one saying that I’d be in her home town for a week and did she want to meet up.  We once had that sort of friendship.  Clearly it was a contrived “friendship” on Facebook because she never once replied to me.  I actually felt quite good for culling her on Facebook.

There is no reason to feel guilty defriending someone and no need to feel upset about being defriended.  There is usually a reasonable explanation, not that either side is ever likely to find out what it is.

I have found things out about people I genuinely do call friends on Facebook, from moving house to the birth of babies.  I think friends should be treated as friends, ie not told things over a very public medium; that’s for Facebook friends, who are two different sets of people.

I also find it bizarre that I and my friends share little nuggets of information from our daily lives that we wouldn’t otherwise have known.  I also know the whereabouts of most Facebook friends on a regular basis.

I bumped into a colleague once at work.  We hadn’t seen each other or spoken in about three years.  Yet we both knew things about each from Facebook, which actually kind of freaked me out, not that I didn’t appreciate the fact we were in touch, albeit in an artificial and random way.

I have probably missed some amazing Facebook-worthy events, strange things, funny signs on doors, etc, because I’ve been too busy walking along or sitting in a cafe, for example, looking at Facebook.  I am disappointed if I check it on my phone and discover there have been no new updates in the past minute or so since I last checked it.  It’s compulsive reading and it keeps you company and fills time when you’re sitting waiting while your drinking companion goes to the loo while you’re out together or while you’re on the train.

But sometimes I think that the me on Facebook isn’t quite the same me my friends see and know.  Sometimes my daily life can seem exciting when I put it in the right way on a short Facebook update.  Sometimes, I smugly check in somewhere exciting or post from abroad while on holiday.  Sometimes, dare I say it, I’ve even posted witty (I think!) comments while I’m away in an interesting non-UK destination … when in reality I’m on a really horrid job and that one event worthy of a status update was the highlight of my day, along with the fact I’ve just published something that makes it sound like I’m having a fantastic time in Paris.

And I haven’t even mentioned the minefield that is exes as Facebook friends!

et cetera