Stop, you’ve been doing the phone thing wrong this whole time
08 November 2018 15:41
It’s 11am and everything is falling apart now. I’ve just spent the whole morning in an ecstasy-drenched, techno sweat fest. I’m exhausted, confused and high as fuck on fatigue. My limbs are frazzled, my brain reduced to an insignificant smudge; a barely recognisable blip on the horizon of what used to be reality. This is all normal.
All that’s left is my weathered gaggle of acquaintances – a mixture of long-standing friends and total strangers I’ve just met – who are stood with me outside a random warehouse in Hackney. We’re all merrily waiting to get mugged.
Sure, a high street is only a 15-minute walk away. But it has been a long morning. I’ve been awake for 48 hours and my mental state is beginning to crease, crumple and fold in on itself like the bellow of an accordion. Should we brave the walk? We’re bound to be confronted by a concerning number of ‘normal’ people. You’ve seen the type, right? Wearing their suits and ties, with painfully stressed facial expressions, they dash off purposefully in a million different directions, to complete menial tasks that slowly but consistently contribute to the on-going deterioration of their heart and soul. You’ll swear they are flashing you funny looks. That’s because they are.
‘We need to get an Uber,’ someone declares in between perpetual conversations about who made the pyramids, who can get on the guestlist for the next party, and whether we might actually be living in a matrix. Well, guess who is not going to order one on their phone, before being filled with empty promises of refunds: me – because I own a £9.99 phone bought from Tesco.
My phone is magnificent, and not just because it has the original version of Snake on it. It’s the kind of device that is usually reserved for small-time cannabis dealers, or someone who is waiting for an insurance claim after falling asleep on the Tube and waking up with – surprise, surprise – empty pockets. It’s what, in my hometown near Manchester, they call a ‘shotter line’ or ‘a burner’. I’m no drug dealer; I just find that having a shit phone is more convenient than owning a good one. And more fun, because I get to write pretentious articles about it.
Back outside the rave, I can’t possibly order the Uber; that would be, quite literally, impossible. So, the very same people who periodically take the piss out of me for paying an annual fee of $10 for a desktop app that allows me to post on Instagram, are now paying for my journey home. Cheers, shit phone.
Not only that, but getting an Uber simply because I’m lazy and can’t be arsed to walk home from the pub isn’t an option for me with this phone. Sure, I have to walk 15 minutes, and there is a moderate risk of getting stabbed. But, hey, I can talk on my phone while I walk because nobody will want to steal it.
Plus, I don’t have to deal with that mortifying moment that I look at my online statement and it reads like this:
Uber – £12.65
Uber – £8.25
Sainsbury’s – £2.65
Uber – £11.65
Uber – £9.25
Uber – £10.12
The Uber thing is one of the many reasons that I personally believe that everyone in the UK should sack off their smartphones and get a £9.99 phone. I know, it’s an extraordinarily forceful assertion to make, and I’m sure many of you will disagree. I will concede that life is marginally more difficult without Citymapper; particularly when you have to write down directions from Google Maps at home, or deal with the strange look that you get from tourists when you accidentally ask them where something is. But the benefits of having a drug dealer-esque phone simply outweighs this mild annoyance.
Along with not wasting all of my money on Ubers, here are some other things I don’t do on account of having this phone: respond to work emails when I’m not in the office (no internet); walk into a coffee shop and ask if I can charge my phone (my battery lasts for a week – it isn’t limited if I don’t buy the latest model); save up for ages to purchase the latest iPhone (my phone cost a tenner); and walk around with a smashed screen (my phone isn’t designed to slip out of my hand like a bar of lubricated soap in the bath – it will probably last for a decade).
I don’t think that marketing companies are recording my conversations to tailor my ads, because I can’t have apps. Plus, I have Snake – the best game in history, in my opinion – which is more than enough to distract me when avoiding eye contact with someone in a lift. But, more important than all of the above, I can get more stuff done. Human attention is a highly valued commodity, right? Yes, we’ll go with that. I mean, look at this exchange for example: I’m sat here on a Wednesday afternoon writing anything that will keep your eyes on this website (please don’t leave me, my friend), to hold your attention for as long as possible.
Because of the content renegades, like myself, who are determined to waste all my time, it was taking me way too long to achieve even the most everyday tasks – I was probably checking my phone hundreds of times a day. It wasn’t even consensual by the end, it was pure muscle memory. I was always somehow back on the Facebook app; it was like I’d been hypnotised by Zuckerberg himself.
Now I only look at my handset if someone calls, which is great, because, you know, there are only so many shitty Buzzfeed listicles I can read before I think about impaling myself on a huge spike, or gorging on a feast of glass and razor blades. There are only so many WhatsApp group chats, with 257 unread messages since yesterday, that one can consume before they start to doubt everything in life. There is, reader, so much more to life than having a good phone.
[Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the rest of the DRUGSTORE CULTURE staff, who generally like their smartphones.]