23.) How smart is your phone? (memory aids)

Something really frightening happened to me a couple of weeks ago, the worst nightmare of many young people today! I had only been to the local garden centre, it was in my hand as I paid, then I went out to my car and drove straight home. I had it in my hand! The panic and anxiety that set in was truly quite traumatic! I checked my car again and again and by the time I had finished checking it for the seventh time the reality began to hit home and I was beginning to accept that I lost my phone!

I loved my smart phone! What was I going to do? Whichever model phone I had at any time had been in and out of my pocket on average every 10 seconds since the moment I got one about 5 years ago! It was my whole life, my calendar, my clock, my alarm clock, all my reminders, my news source, my note book, my shopping lists, ‘To Do’ lists…. EVERYTHING! What on earth was I going to do now? I kept getting these phantom vibrations in my leg like it was a text message, I have read previously accounts from people who have lost a limb that they can still feel it, I could only imagine it being like that! An hour passed and as I checked the car again I was getting myself worked up into a frenzy. It really set my fatigue off because too much thinking and stress exhausts me so I made myself a camomile tea (because I am an alpha male!) and went to bed, I went out like a light!

I woke up on Saturday morning and I went to reach over on the bedside table for my phone, it wasn’t there!?!?! Then I remembered! My immediate response was to panic! What time was it? I need to check Facebook, my emails, my WhatsApp, text messages, Snapchat, Instagram… then I thought to myself Why?? Its Saturday, I aren’t doing anything today I not planned to meet anyone I was only going to go for a run at some point does time really matter? I went back to sleep for… I don’t know I didn’t have a clock!

When I got up I went for a run along the river and I was presented with another dilemma, ‘when I meet another runner coming the other way do I acknowledge them with “Morning!” Or “Afternoon?!”’. This was of course not strictly necessary as I have found that nobody in Manchester seems to do this, it is a Scarborough tradition I am trying to bring over here! I couldn’t imagine running around Scarborough’s Marine Drive at 9am on a Sunday and neglecting the obligatory “Morning!” as I met another fellow morning jogger! so I just went with “Hiya!” it’d have to do!
The next morning I woke up at some time or another and I thought I need to at least know what time it is so I dug something out of my bedside drawer that I used to wear called a watch. It wasn’t a Smart Watch, I couldn’t use it to take calls, read emails, texts, listen to music I mean it didn’t even have bluetooth connectivity for crying out loud! In fact it only had 2 hands and even they had stopped so I took it to get a new battery.

Technology is moving so fast it is so easy to fall behind, not wanting to become that old guy who has a leather case on his smart phone and holds his phone at arm’s length when looking at it and using his index finger to type! In fact the moment I realised I was not young anymore came not as I realised had my phone in a leather case, typed using my index finger at arms length to type. It wasn’t even when realised that I do all of the above plus I look through one eye because of my double vision. My moment of realisation that my youth was behind me came in October last year as I was preparing for a thing called Safe Drive Stay Alive where I was to talk to students about road safety. The speakers consist of members of the emergency services who’s role is to recall harrowing incidents from their careers to make the students think and family members of someone killed by an out of control young drivers so the students can see the impact their driving can cause. I fitted in the middle I survived but have had massive changes to my life, I was a student myself so the students should be able to see similarities in their lives and mine. I wanted to appear on their level, you know ‘cool!’ Then it hit me… do the youth of today even say ‘cool’ anymore? It seemed highly unlikely! The youth say ‘Its sick that mate!’ to describe something that is ‘cool’ now, I would advise them to go to a walk in centre or call 111 if they felt sick! I think this may just be a Manchester thing but if something is funny it will be described as ‘too much Joke!’, now I don’t even know where to start with the grammatical errors on that! In Scarborough where I grew up there is a housing development being built called ‘Middle Deepdale’ I realised that I can actually say “when I was a lad, this was all fields!”. It wasn’t even that nor was it the sayings ‘sick’ or that talk about the abundance of ‘joke’ to describe something humorous that did it! The moment I realised that I was no longer young came as was preparing for SDSA, to try and be cool I caught myself typing into Google the ‘cool words that cool 17 year olds say’. I stopped, looked it and felt a bit sick as it dawned on me that young people DO NOT Google ‘cool words that cool 17 year olds say’.

I lived the next week with no phone only logging onto my laptop to check my emails and do you know what, it was nice. I started to observe peoples habits and we are a nation obsessed with the smart phone! Nobody seems to enjoy themselves anymore they cannot order food without photographing it for instagram, cannot go anywhere without checking in on Facebook and can’t go to a concert without filming it. Its like everybody is a journalist for a magazine and cannot really let themselves go because they are at work and attend events so they to write a report later. The reports are produced using only the best photos, which are filtered to make them the best looking and have the most amazing life! Everyone does it and makes social media a looking glass into a false reality, there is so much anxiety about with people desperately trying to show how amazing their life is. Its keeping up with the Jones’ on a massive scale where the Jones’ no longer live next door they are everywhere yet they are not even real! I was free from all the nonsense, I was riding on my high horse and its fair to say I thought I had discovered a superior way to live and that I was better than you!

However I was only on my high horse for so long before I fell off! I have a number of alarms that go off at certain times during the week, anybody that knows me well will confirm this because my alarms drive people mad. Eg at 9pm every night an alarm on my phone goes off telling me to take my medication and write in my diary, something I started doing in about 2010 because of my poor memory, without it I wouldn’t remember to do either. Hence I went a few days without my medication this makes me feel very fatigued, missed a dentist appointment and basically fell apart a bit. As much as I hate the fact I am one of those phone people I realised that I actually rely on it a lot, since having a brain injury I have learnt that many functions such as my memory haven’t returned to what they were before the accident. At the Brain And Spinal Injury Centre (BASIC) in Salford, they run a Memory Group taught by Dr Mary Todd who teaches strategies to help compensate for post injury memory loss, Mary is a big advocate for the ‘memory notebook’ which you have on you at all times to write down anything you need to remember. The memory notebook is a replacement for your memory, once something is written down then you can access it at any time and don’t have to stress about remembering it, thus freeing your now limited brain power to focus on something else. Mary teaches that you should keep all things to do with memory together in your memory hub, everything that requires you to remember should be kept in one place so that you always know where it is; notebook, calendar, lists, mail, laptop etc. I realised that I already had a memory hub on my smart phone, it also played music, had google, Netflix, a camera, email, I played sudoku and scrabble on mine no wonder I was so addicted.

I realised I was still paying for my contract so I looked for a cheap second hand handset, I was free from social media and I was seeing the benefits until I went and bought an old iPhone 4s for £45. I got home and I turned it on I saw that little red notification that we are drawn to like a moth to a flame, I clicked it to reveal the notification: an old school friend I haven’t spoken to for years had commented on a photo by another old friend I hadn’t spoken to for years…. the comment was “LOL!”. It was like scratching a very bad itch that completely useless piece of information had momentarily satisfied me but I found myself checking the phone ten minutes later for another red light, perhaps someone I else I hardly know had commented “ROFL” on the status of someone I don’t know at all. These are obviously stupid examples I have just made up but the point I am making is that we are addicted to checking our phones often for the sake of checking them thats the bad side of smart phones, however they are extremely useful especially when you have a memory problem! I don’t know what the answer is, I think social media is good for keeping in touch with people but is so easily abused especially when it is always to hand. I want something that is good for organisation but not great for social media, I used to like the Blackberry when I had one. I think they have just brought out a new one, thats going to be my next phone. Will it solve my phone addiction? I very much doubt it but I can’t live without a phone so Ill have to let you know how it goes!

I hope you have enjoyed reading, could you live without your phone? How do you use yours to organise yourself? Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below

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