Put That Phone Down…Or Not!





Have you ever thought how life would be without phones, laptops, internet, Facebook, Instagram…? Probably much more peaceful? I think.

Few days ago, I had an appointment at the German embassy. When you enter the premises, they take away your phone- You keep it in a locker and take the key. Then you go to a small room to wait for your turn, along with few other people. That day we were about 12 people. The process was extremely slow, and each person called was taking about 30 to 40 minutes to finish. There was a TV showing a 3min40sec video, about one of Germany’s historical castles, that would repeat itself the whole time we were there.  So do you get the picture? About 12 people in one room, at 10 in the morning, all focusing on that video as if at the end of the session we would be tested in it. With no phones, and of course no internet, no Facebook, no Instagram, no emails, nothing! We stayed this way a little over an hour. I don’t have to tell you how boring that was. I counted how many light bulbs there was, how many windows, how many posters, how many chairs, how many doors, how many people, how many trees I could see from the window, and soon I was out of things to count! I started scanning the people around me, trying to figure out their nationalities, hoping that this would take some time, to my deepest disappointment they were all Bahrainis except for two Indian guys, and it didn’t even take me five minute to decipher that. Everyone else was bored too, you could see it in their faces and eyes!

Suddenly the unexpected happened, and I have no idea how it started! There we were all having a conversation, all of us together. Saying jokes and laughing out loud! Suddenly it felt like I knew each one of them for a very long time! The old man was telling us old stories about Bahrain, this beautiful country with its beautiful culture. He seemed like a great father, loving and caring! The old woman, who looked like she was a model in her younger years, was telling us about her travel plans, and how she broke her left leg falling down the stairs. She was very sweet and funny, but I remember making a note to myself, to embrace my age as I grow old, and to never want to look twenty when I am sixty!! There was the young man who was telling us about all the new offers at the company where he works, he looked Lebanese to me but he was speaking the Bahraini Arabic, so I assumed that his mother was Lebanese (don’t ask me why!). Then there was the young girl who stood up and went to the coffee machine and got everyone drinks! Everyone loved the gesture and enjoyed their coffees and teas! This lasted for another hour! Then finally my name was called and I felt my heart sinking, I wanted to hear more stories, and get to know these people just a little bit more! But I wouldn’t want to miss my turn and the luxury of getting back to my phone, my car and the civilisation of the world that existed beyond that German embassy! So I roused my sinking heart, nerved my sluggish legs and rushed to that small cubical where I was called.

Leaving was a bit emotional; you see even though we didn’t even know each other’s names, we built an extraordinary bond! We laughed, we talked, we were just people, human beings… nobody knew who the other one was, how rich or poor they were, how smart, successful, or important they were! They cheered for me- because I finished and I was now allowed to leave this room and go back to the outside world- we said our goodbyes and I left reluctantly! It was a wonderful experience! Once we were stripped of all these 21st century’s great distractions, we found the real deal! We got to the core of humanity! We managed to be friends, to talk and enjoy each other’s company even though we didn’t know each other! Do you think if they allowed us to take our phones inside, any of this would have happened?  Of course not! Not in a million years! These phones are sucking the life out of us! They are stealing the last threads of humanity left in us!

The first thing I did as I reached my car, nonetheless, was checking my phone!! How ironic is that! There I was, just coming out of an amazing experience where I saw first hand the disadvantages of a dominant technology, and the first thing I do to acknowledge the whole thing was checking my phone! Yes, I am addicted to my phone! This small gadget wakes me up, reminds me of birthdays, meetings and important things to do, it gets me in touch with my loved ones at any given time, it guides me to any new destination, it enables me to always be informed and knowledgeable of everything around me, it helps me capture the moment,….Hell I even blogged from this phone when my laptop stopped working (for 6 months!!). So you see why I am addicted! How can I not be! I would be miserable without my phone……No wait a second, I stayed in that room in that German embassy for two hours and I had so much fun with people I have never seen before, so I wasn’t so miserable after all! But still the first thing I did after leaving that room was checking my phone right? Oh it feels like running in a closed circle!

How about you? How do you feel about phones? Do you think they are the reason humans lost their humanity and became some kind of operating machines? Would you go through your day without glancing at your phone every 5 minutes? Please share…


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