Thought Experiment: A Day without a Smartphone

by Miguel Benavides, Rowie Chua, Katherine Khoo, Alexandra Martin, Juana Montelibano, Laura Que, Maegan Santos

Shaneighneigh’s Shenanigans

Meet Shaneighneigh Latifa. An eighteen year-old college student from Metro Manila, Shaneighneigh belongs to an upper middle-class family. She has a lot of friends and a boyfriend named Roberto. On her birthday, she was given an iPhone 5 and from that day on, you could not see one without the other. On one fateful day, the unthinkable happened.

June 9, 2013

OHEMGEEEE! This is the absolute worst day of my entire life! I could just die! Drop dead die. My beloved, precious phone was stolen from my bag this afternoon when I was in National Bookstore! I cannot believe this is really happening. #‎FML! Are there really no more good people in this world? I mean they would even target innocent girls like me. There is no hope for humankind anymore. May that sneaky thief rot in hell! May his sneaky hands be cut off and be fed to his f***ing face! Now, how will I text my beloved Roberto? It is not only my social life at stake, but also my love life!! *WAIL* God help me survive.

-Shaneighneigh Latifa

She lost her phone, and it would take her parents a day to replace it. Do you think she would survive a day in school without it?

Alarm Clock and Music Player

Devastated by the incident of losing her phone, Shaneighneigh had a hard time going to sleep. She kept on rolling and twisting around her bed. There were even times when she was about to reach for her phone to check the time, but then she remembered that it was no longer there. It was already one in the morning when she finally drifted off to sleep.

In her dream, she was happily texting Roberto. Roberto just sent her a super sweet text that made her blush with delight. She just capped off her reply with a heart emoticon and was about to hit send when somebody began to shake her.

“Shaneighneigh!! It is time to get up!! If you do not leave the house in ten minutes, you will be late for school!”

It was her yaya waking her up because she was already late for school. But that could not be! Her alarm did not even go off…..Sh**! I always use my phone as an alarm clock! No phone, no alarm clock! Aurgh! This is a bad way to start the day!

She hurried going about her morning routine, and just put on the first thing she saw in the closet. ‘Yuck! This top really doesn’t compliment my complexion at all. But gaddamet I don’t have time to change or else I’ll be stuck in Manila’s horrid traffic!’ She quickly hopped into her car, not bothering to get breakfast.

“Go, go, go, Mang Juan! Faster please, or else I will be late!”

“Okay po Ma’am”

Usually on the way to school, I would listen to my PUP (Pumped Up Playlist) to pump up my system for the day to come, which was in my… oh right, in my phone, which is currently missing…

“Mang Juan can you please turn the radio on station 99.5?”

“Yes Ma’am”

‘Not my usual taste, but I really don’t have a choice.’ Shaneighneigh had to settle with what she had for the ride going to school.

Class Schedule and Friend 

No, my class isn’t at Berch,” she mutters under her breath.

Shaneighneigh enters Gonzaga, power walking the whole way until she gets to the back exit facing SEC-A.

“Where was that classroom again? Sec-B? Something with a B. Hell, it could be Bellarmine for all I know. Or… maybe it was an A not a B. Darn it.”

She can feel people watching her dart across the small expanse of space, flustered and frustrated. Her sweat is dripping down the side of her face, causing streaks to form on her make-up. Self-conscious now, she glances at her reflection as she passes by one of the parked cars. She looks like a mess, but she can’t be bothered about it. It is 11:43 now and she is late, absolutely late for class.

“Crap, it’s like 11:43 now. I’m late for Theo. I’m late. I’m late. I’m late. This is more than a half-cut now. Okay, okay. I’m going to try SEC-B. But, crap, I don’t even know which room it was! My schedule is on my phone WHICH I DON’T HAVE ANYMORE. If I still had my phone, I would’ve woken up early this morning, I would’ve known where my classroom is, I wouldn’t be late.”

Grumbling and muttering all to herself, Shaneighneigh actually wishes she could have her phone back just so that she can tweet about how horrible this day is. But, anyways, as she passes by the first classroom on her right, she hovers casually in front of the schedule as the class inside continues on. She’s half-hoping that this was going to be her class, because the teacher sounds interesting, and handsome.

Okay, so maybe he’s more handsome than interesting. She rolls her eyes at that own thought, and continues to check the schedule.

Nope. Not the one. She continues checking until she gets to the end of the hall. Still nothing. She slumps back in despair. It’s getting even later.

Suddenly, she has an idea. Maybe I should check upstairs! AHA! I mean, for all I know, my class could’ve been on the second floor, WHICH I WOULD’VE KNOWN IF I HAD MY PHONE.

She picks herself up, and climbs up the stairs two at a time. She has to focus. FOCUS. She tries to be more optimistic, especially because the day isn’t even half-over and maybe things will turn out. Maybe her class is upstairs and Bon Qui Qui will just be there and she can just explain to the teacher what happened, and the teacher will smile and say “Oh, poor thing, you. Here have a seat. It’s going to be okay.” And it’ll be okay. And maybe she’ll get an even handsomer teacher than the other one downstairs. When she arrives on the floor, she straightens her back and pats her hair down. It’ll be okay.

But, wait. Did all the classrooms look like this? They’re filled with jars of dead things and charts of science-y things. And, and, that room’s a freaking lab. Wait, a minute, Roberto mentioned that SEC-B was the science-y building. Crap, do Theo classes happen in Science buildings? UGH.

She looks at her watch. It’s 11:52.

It’s too late anyway. If she can’t go to class, she might as well eat Lunch. Well, that’s what she tells herself at the moment. Filled with despair and hopelessness, the only rational thing she thinks she can do is eat lunch. She power walks even faster to JSEC. All her frustrations going to her legs.

Yeah, I’ll eat at JSEC and whip out my phone and text… I don’t have a phone anymore. Fine. I can eat alone. This is the worst day of my life. Worst WORST day ever. And all just because I lost my phone.

She wipes the sweat from her face. She’s beginning to get teary-eyed. She can’t even get someone to listen to her rant. She spots a table at the corner. Well, at least not EVERYTHING today is going badly.

 Fine. I can do this. I am a strong, independent woman. I can eat lunch by myself.

She shoves her bag onto the chair and walks to the nearest stall to grab some lunch. She doesn’t even feel hungry at all.

Note taker and Entertainment

The clock finally struck 1:30. Lunch had been dreadful. Having no one to eat with, and no Candy Crush to pass the time, Shaneighneigh had already been counting the seconds to her next class just so she would finally have something to do. “How ridiculous is that – I’m actually excited for MATH class. Ugh I hate not having my phone!!!” she thought to herself.

She dragged her feet to get to SEC-A, continuously debating with herself whether her Math class was at SEC-A or CTC. “If I end up in the wrong classroom again, I swear to God I will hunt down the person who stole my phone!!! Everything is on that phone, now my whole life is so kalat.” As she was walking past the classrooms of SEC-A, she finally saw the familiar faces of her blockmates, thanking the heavens she finally got her schedule right.

“Hey Shaneighneigh! Whut up, garl?” Ashanti’s regular greeting always made Shaneighneigh smile. Ashanti was one of Shaneighneigh’s closest block mates.

“It’s been such a shitty day, hun. Some f**king loser stole my phone yesterday and I can’t contact anyone or do anything because I swear to God the world is so boring and dull without iPhones around. Ugh.”

“Oh, garl. We goin’ to find you somethin else to do instead of you just moping around like that. Now, come on. It’s time for some number-crunching,” said Ashanti as they proceeded to their room.

The professor writes the words “Power Series” on the board. “What the fuck are Power Series?”, muttered Shaneighneigh to herself. “We’ll continue where we last left off, okay?” said the professor. “We already started on Power Series?!?! When??? I can’t even tell whether a series is convergent or not, and now I’m supposed to know these fucking Power Series?” She was legitimately confused. As the professor continued to scribble various Greek symbols, numbers and letters on the board, Shaneighneigh thought she would never get to the end of the class without dying of boredom or a brain hemorrhage. “Does he actually expect me to copy all of these things? Ugh, where is my phone when I need it the most. It has the most pristine camera that can capture all of my notes, all the time” she said. Shaneighneigh pulled out her notebook and started jotting down notes even though it was against every fiber of her being. She hated writing. Her hands would end up calloused and ugly. Disgusting. But she couldn’t do anything else. She might as well write since she has the time. As she wrote equation after equation, all the numbers and symbols started to make sense. “Ah. That’s what a series is,” she thinks. A few more minutes into the class discussion, Shaneighneigh is already reciting in class and coming up with the right answers.

“Garl, you on fire today mm-hmmm,” said Ashanti.

“I didn’t know it was that interesting pala. I always thought Math was so boring and complicated.”

“Whatever, hun. I’m not getting anything the prof is saying, but you go girl!”

“Haha. Thanks, Ashanti.”

By the time it was 3:00, Shaneighneigh hadn’t noticed that time went by so fast. She actually enjoyed learning her Math lesson. “I guess having to physically write notes down isn’t that bad,” she says as she leaves her classroom smiling.

Love Life

Shaneighneigh had just left class when she realizes she hasn’t seen Roberto all day. This begins to worry her. “Oh my god! I can’t stand not knowing what Roberto is doing! Ughhh I have to know! I need to know!” she repeats to herself. “He’s probably tried calling me like a million times by now,” she thinks.

Walking down the stairs from SEC-A, she sees the mass of people making their way through SEC walk. On an average day, she would expect Roberto to be waiting for her by the stairs, but on this day, he’s nowhere to be found. And so, she stands there, waiting. With her iPhone missing, there’s nothing for her to do but stand by awkwardly while all these people she’s never noticed before hurriedly walk to their next class. “Where the hell is Roberto?” she says to herself.

All the while, she sees a few familiar faces walk by – that guy who keeps tweeting patama stuff about his ex; that annoying girl who retweets every single tweet by One Direction; that other guy who instagrammed his lunch the other day, highlighting how there was a strand of hair when it was served. She remembers the caption, “OMG eww wtf theres hair in my lobster thermidor lol”. She remembers the nice filters he put over it.

“So that’s how they look like…” she thinks to herself. “They’re nothing like their profile pics.”

Shaneighneigh has no idea how much time has passed, though by the looks of it, it’s probably been thirty minutes since almost everyone has gone to class. She makes her way to JSEC figuring that maybe Roberto’s there.

As usual, JSEC’s packed with people – a dazzling array of colorful polos, folded shorts that show too much, and boat shoes of a thousand shades of brown float about. “Ugh it’s gonna take forever to find him here!” she thinks, since Roberto wears the same things.

Someone taps her on the shoulder from behind. “Roberto?”

“Girl, where have you been? I’ve been trying to call you all day!” she says. It’s Bon’Qui Qui.

“Oh heey guuurl! Some guy stole my phone when I was shopping in National yesterday! Can you believe that? Ugh, these poor people talaga!”

“OMG! No wonder.”

“No wonder what?”

“I saw him tweet about you.”

“OMG what did he say?”

Bon’Qui Qui opens her iPhone and shows the tweet: “RT @gurlfrendpls : boy: *calls gf* gurl: no fak u i wont anwr rt if u cried”.

“OMG WTF! He’s totally talking about me! Ughh, have you seen him around today?”

“Yeah, I think I saw him at Matteo kanina.”

Shaneighneigh is devastated. She cannot believe Roberto retweeted that. And so she made her way to Matteo up, looking for him.

“ROBERTO!” she shouts.

From the corner of one of the tables near the pizza stall, he looks up from his laptop. “Oh hey Shaneighneigh,” he walks up to her. “I was trying to call you all day! I thought you were mad at me or something.”

“After math class a while ago, you weren’t there. Where were you?”

“Something came up. I texted you about that. I called. You didn’t answer.”

She goes to his laptop and opens twitter. “What is this?” she asks, pointing to his earlier retweet.

“Oh that? Haha umm… that’s nothing. I just found it funny.”

“Funny? Even though I’m your girlfriend, and that tweet pretty much applies to this situation?”

“Yeah, okay fine, I felt a bit bad.”

“So you’d really think I would just ignore you like that?”

“Well yeah, I mean, you can get pissed off really easily. It could be anything I did, and I wouldn’t know. That’s just the way you can be sometimes.”

“I can’t believe you Roberto! Just because I don’t reply or answer your calls, doesn’t mean I’m pissed off at you. I’m pissed off right now because you don’t trust me!”

Tears start to swell up in Shaneighneigh’s eyes.

“Aww babe, don’t cry. What do you mean? Why else wouldn’t you answer my calls?”

“Someone stole my iPhone!” Shaneighneigh burst into tears, sobbing aloud.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry to hear that. I had no idea! Please don’t cry here.” People start looking at them. He flushes red with embarrassment.

“No, it’s okay. At least I know,” her sobbing interrupts her speech, “what you really think of me.”

“Oh no no, it’s just a misunderstanding. Come on, babe, I’m sorry.”

“I’m gonna need some time alone.”

She leaves, teary-eyed and sad. She walks to her car ready to go home.

Traffic Advisor

*Ring Ring*

“Finally, dismissal! This crappy day is over. I cannot wait to get home and tweet about it. My beloved followers are probably wondering where I am already.”

Shaneighneigh waits for a couple of minutes because she can’t contact Mang Juan, her driver, where he is at the moment. Another thing caused by the absence of her phone. After 20 whole minutes of waiting at JSEC and not having anyone to talk to, she finally sees her car pull up to where she is.

Shaneighneigh gets into her car and asks Mang Juan to hurry home. By habit, Mang Juan would usually ask Shaneighneigh which route to pass in order to avoid the killer traffic. Shaneighneigh would usually give an answer based on the information from the MMDA application on her iPhone. She’s the intel., he’s the manpower. This is how this duo works.

“Oh, Neigh saan ako dadaan sa C-5 or EDSA? Ilabas mo na ang mahiwagang mapa mo.”

“Ah! Wait a moment Mang Juan, I’ll check it right…. AURGH! I forgot! Sorry Mang Juan. My phone got stolen yesterday so I cannot check it.. Ummm.. Just pass EDSA. I think there is not much traffic there right now.”

Not much traffic my arse. Apparently there was a huge accident in EDSA that caused a bumper-to-bumper traffic. Shaneighneigh did not even have her phone with her to play Candy Crush to pass time. It took two hours for her to get home. Two freaking hours! That’s four lives in Candy Crush wasted, but that’s that.

Lesson Learned: Cannot live without it

After going through a very stressful day without that one thing she can’t live without, she arrives home and much to her surprise, her OMG-I-lost-my-smartphone-I-wanna-die dilemma is now coming to an end. Upon entering the house, she immediately proceeds to her bedroom and notices a black box on top of her desk. Trembling with excitement, she rushes to open the box and tadah, she (again) now has a brand new iPhone 5.

Her eyes gleam with bliss as she now holds the iPhone in her hands. She can’t wait to download the games that she constantly plays, and the apps that she always uses. Not to mention, she can’t wait to tweet about her new phone.

Even though her phone has already been replaced, there’s still a part of her that’s making her feel quite uneasy. “It’s been horrible not having a phone with me the entire day, but there were also some times today that I enjoyed without having to resort to my constant digital companion,” she realizes. “I guess I’ll have to be extra careful witht his new phone, and I won’t forget that I can do other things without my phone that can make me happy too.”

Significance

Shaneighneigh is just one of many who have already become too dependent on technology as part of their daily lives. In this day and age, technology has reigned over almost every aspect of our lives. Whether it be in the way we go about our daily routines, or how we talk to our friends, or how we work, everything seems to be done in a digital way. There is one particular thing that has become integral in today’s technological advancements – the smartphone.

With such a commodity such as the smartphone, which practically everyone has a hold on, daily living has become so much easier (or not?). Our generation is a generation that enjoys the idea of multitasking, and the usage of smartphones illustrates that point very well. If cellphones a few years back could only perform call and text services, those very things are the most basic functions of smartphones now. No one really buys a smartphone based on its capacity to send a message or to receive a call. Consumers buy smartphones based on what else it could do – further pushing the boundaries of telecommunications as it encompasses communication through email, chat and video calling, all in real-time. With all that said, we now have to ask: what really makes a smartphone smart?

In 1992, SIMON designed and created by IBM, was born. SIMON, aside from calling and texting, also had a calendar, contact list, world clock, calculator and many more other additional features. SIMON was the very first smartphone ever invented. Since then, the evolution of the smartphone has been a fascinating thing to witness. Most smartphone manufacturers have prided themselves as creators of mini computers, making advance technology more accessible and compact to users. Smartphones are indeed considered smart because it can do all of the things you want it to do. There are a myriad of functions today’s smartphones carry out such as the ability to create and store media, to sort out dates and files, to create tasks and have alarms for certain times, to play games, to solve problems, to view things online, etc.

infographic

It was only a decade ago when smartphones were introduced to the market. Now as the demand for these phones continues to increase, different companies try to best each other to come out on top. In every system update, there are new features added to these phones. These features are probably what attract millions of people in using smartphones. Perhaps the idea of having the best technology in the palm of your hand is what continues to lure us consumers into buying the most advance smartphone we could get our hands on. But perhaps, our constant pursuit to revolutionize the world with technology is also the driving force behind the success of smartphones today.

We cannot live on smartphones alone

But then it’s never good to be too dependent on anything. As illustrated through Shaneighneigh’s shenanigans without her iPhone, we see that, when you’re deprived of something you hold dear to you nearly every waking moment of your life, you become miserable.

Nowadays, smartphones have become ubiquitous: more than half of all Americans own one. Its effect on our daily lives has become so powerful that for some, it is really difficult to imagine life without it. Indeed, one might say that the pervasiveness of smartphones today reflects a radical cultural shift in how we use technology in our daily lives. Rather than being a mere “extension” of ourselves, smartphones are becoming something that is essential to functioning normally in society.

We can imagine this trend to culminate to a point where technology is so inseparable from living, that to be deprived of it would be considered a social abnormality. It’s not uncommon to hear of how some people ridicule other people for not owning a smartphone nowadays. Furthermore, it’s downright shocking to hear if someone doesn’t even own a phone. You could then imagine, with the rate of growth and acceptance of technology today, how perhaps one day, not owning a smartphone or any piece of high technology would make you a social outcast.

Social norms aren’t the only things technology changes. The essence of technology is to make life easier, that is, it should make us more productive. True, the computing power of your average smartphone is more than we’ll ever need to, for example, write down notes or take pictures. But do we really use all this computing power to be productive? It’s not hard to imagine how much of a time-waster smartphones can be with things like Candy Crush or Angry Birds, not to mention how much time you can waste on Facebook and Twitter alone. None of these get any real work done. So, are we dependent on smartphones and technology in general to be productive? More importantly, is technology actually making us more counter-productive? One could consider that it has the potential for either. We can choose to be very productive by using technology to our advantage, or we can choose to waste our time and fall prey to all the distractions it has to offer.

Conclusion

Smartphones with all their capacities and uses has created a cultural shift, wherein quite a number of us are becoming more and more dependent on the ones we carry around. Left and right, people are carrying their schedules on their phones, others have their GPSs built into theirs, and others have their whole contact list compiled there. Because of its efficiency, it’s no wonder that a lot of us have begun to rely on it, but that should be the end of it. It’s quite common to see this taken even further in the lives of people who are fully dependent on them. In fact, without this small gadget, many of them will end up like Shaneighneigh—unable to function normally even on a normal day. Technology should make our lives easier, not more complicated. This complication stems from the control technology has on our lives, a control that shouldn’t be there in the first place. We own technology because it’s more efficient, but not because of our dependence on it.

References:

Avinash, . N.p., n. d. 4 Aug 2013. <http://sparkwiz.com/mobile/why-people-prefer-smart-phones-than-the-other-phones/>.

Cassavoy, Liane. “What Makes a Smartphone Smart?.”About.com. N.p., n. d. Web. 5 Aug. 2013. <http://cellphones.about.com/od/smartphonebasics/a/what_is_smart.htm>.

Ozgur, . N.p.. Web. 5 Aug 2013. <http://mail2web.com/blog/2011/05/smartphone-revolution-growth-smartphones-exchange-activesync/&gt;.

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