What Happens When We Are Only As Smart As Our Smartphones

by Karen Hua

This morning, I left my beautiful and intelligent Samsung Galaxy smartphone (we’re in a committed relationship) on the counter of a public restroom.

Just five minutes later, when I panicked at the emptiness of my pockets, I bolted back, only to find my phone no longer there. Commence physical spasms of terror, profuse back sweat and an internal waterfall of tears.

For the rest of the day, I was forced to go about my day feeling completely disconnected from the rest of the world. At one point, I probably convinced myself that I had never felt so alone in my life.

For starters, after lunch at a restaurant, I had to calculate the tip out on paper because my calculator app is on my phone. I felt like such a peasant beneath the stares of my friends, all waiting for me to finish.

Today, I also had to find my way to an appointment and later to meet a friend. Of course, I never scoped out directions in advance because that’s what a GPS is for. It might have been the most lost I’ve felt in a really long time, both literally and figuratively.

To add to my misery, I didn’t have any way check how late I was going to be without a clock. How would I know what kind of excuse to make if I didn’t know the degree of my tardiness? Honestly, who even wears watches now for any purpose other than fashion?

Later, while I was waiting for my meeting to begin, I had nothing to make me look occupied among a sea of people on their phones, probably tweeting about the awkwardness of initial social interaction. I was forced to sit idly because what was I going to do, introduce myself to the girl next to me?

Then I had to write my meeting notes down on paper, like some plebian, because I didn’t have the convenience of my phone. As I type this out now, I am working from ideas scrawled in 2-year-old penmanship on the same ugly piece of scrap paper.

To add to my stress, I didn’t have Google at my fingertips to ask, “What do I do when I lose my cell?” I was so preoccupied over my lack of a search engine that it wasn’t until six hours later, when I finally got a laptop with Facebook, that a friend suggested I call my phone. Thanks to the advice of friends over social media, I finally got my phone back. I immediately posted a status about my relief, and more importantly, my plans to permanently duct tape my phone to my body.

In summation, today was the definition of “the struggle is real”; the exemplification of “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone”; the epitome of “I got 99 problems and every single one relates to not having a smartphone.”

Who said time travel was impossible? I’d basically been transported back to the 90s.

Now, after spending all day listening to myself whine, I have reached a new level of personal disgust. I guess you can just give me the award for biggest first world bitch. Since when did a cell phone become another extension of my body? When did I become so intellectually, creatively, socially and personally dependent on a device that now outsmarts me?

It's shocking that an electronic object smaller than my own hand has the ability to make me feel powerless for a day. I’m a human being, dammit; how is that possible? My species is supposed to be the smartest on the planet.

The fact that I am so invested in my smartphone is definitely not a healthy reliance. My hands felt a sense of crippling loneliness; my pockets had an emptiness that made me physically uncomfortable and my brain remained in a painful state of worry. My entire day revolved around my lack of a smartphone, rather than how smart I could be without one.

Perhaps it’s time to lose my phone more often and relearn some mental math skills, teach myself how to read a map, recall the art of writing with a real pen and reacquaint myself with human interaction.

I don’t want to live in a world of smartphones and dumb people; I want to be smart, too.

Photo via We Heart It