Because much like people, a phone does not survive a first attempt at drowning let alone a second.
The mobile phone – what a glorious invention. They are notoriously fragile, dangerously temperamental and, more importantly, not waterproof. All in all, it’s clearly the perfect storage device for all the data that is important to my very existence.
I have managed to take said important artifact and drop it in the toilet twice: once last year and again a few months ago. Not exactly the record I would headline my gravestone with but hey – we all need something.
After snatching it out of the bowl, with reflexes somewhere between Golem and an indigenous fisherman off the coast of Vanuatu, I raced into the kitchen and did what any sane person would do.
I grabbed the biggest bowl I could find, put every single grain of rice I owned into it and threw in my soaking wet device along with a torrent of profanity and prayers. You know, just in case Roland the God of Water Damaged Electronics was in the area.
I was in a panic so started fiddling with it in an attempt to speed the process up. I frantically started patting the rice on it, dunking it in and out of the rice – at one point I was even tossing it around in the bowl like a chef who was simultaneously dressing a salad and having stroke. By this point I knew the phone was a complete write off so I just needed to keep it alive long enough to get to a store and transfer everything to a new phone/computer/any other storage device that wouldn’t crumble in the face of a flush. My phone is set to back up regularly, but I wanted to be 100% sure so began the back up process.
This was my first mistake.
Obviously my phone was now starting to react to being fair-ground-dunked into a tank of water. Up until this point it was still responding relatively normally, if a little slow. I’m not sure if it was seeing the receptacle of my most important data floating in the same receptacle as all my least important or the feelings of dismay and frustration at this unexpected trauma but, because my brain has a flair for the dramatic, I suddenly had flashbacks of some of my worst moments in life.
Some were toxic relationships, some were me being toxic, some were depressive episodes – yet all seemed to react the same way a phone does to water.
1. Both like to lull you into a false sense of security
That first moment where you’re holding it asking “omgisitokay?!” and it seems fine. It just kind of continues to do its own thing because everything’s fine, this is fine, I don’t know what you’re doing, but I’m fine.
You can hear it now can’t you? The mouth saying “This is fine! everything is fiiiine” in a casually dismissive yet worrying maniacal manner whilst the eyes are engulfed in flames. It sounds great – sure it feels like they might actually set your world on fire but how could it be anything else but fine? Very easily my friend – it feels like they could set your world on fire because it is on fire. The floor is on fire. And you’re on fire. And Everything is on fire because you’re now in hell.
2. Both will suddenly stop responding to requests altogether
Ah yes. Stage Two. It starts glitching. At first it seemed okay, if a little slow to react, but now suddenly it’s not responding to touch very well anymore. What do you mean you didn’t want to activate text-to-speech? I know I said I didn’t know what I wanted to eat but it definitely wasn’t this – well we can’t leave now they’ve given us a menu -it’s fine I’ll find something.
You wanted to Google the nearest phone shop? Nope. I’m going to open Internet Explorer and then overheat from the sheer stress opening Internet Explorer takes on my processor. DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. I can do it myself BRIAN.
3. Both will have an unexpected, and far too dramatic, meltdown
Without any warning, it all suddenly gets super melodramatic. Where once were apps that you could access now you have pop-up warning messages that sound like a PSA for the blitz – “Device is over heating. It will shut down in 10 seconds to cool off”. Like an argumentative narcoleptic who can’t handle being wrong, everything goes black and no matter how much you try and revive it you’re left holding a wet, lifeless box that you begrudgingly can’t throw away. This is the equivalent to “I’m not having this conversation anymore.”
Meanwhile I’m on route to the closest store filled with quiet rage because frankly if it’s not socially acceptable for me just shut down 10 seconds after I’m upset then I sure as hell don’t accept it from you.
4. You end up seeing your life end up in a toilet
I’ve had similar feelings about people – which is both hilarious and sad.
Both contain all the information I need in order to survive – photos, my mum’s phone number, the password to my Netflix account – however one will lose this information against my will whilst the other will retain it.
5. Desperately try to fix something that is beyond help
I’m still on route to the store. It’s been a 20 minutes journey of me rapidly stroking my phone screen like it’s a concussed man I’m trying to keep awake – to the point I can hear myself saying “stay with me, come on – stay with me”.
Maybe it’s that moment where I send you benign videos of puppies in the vague attempt the cuteness will counter act all the shit you’re putting us through without me actually having to address it. I’m still being here for you and I’m trying to make it better without actually talking to you because we’re so past that point and now “we” are just a habit. Kind of a bad one.
It is at this point I am on the escalator exiting the station and truly realising what my life has come to. That I have become so dependent on this tiny, too-fragile, metallic information wallet that I’m giving it the same level of treatment I would to a severely injured person.
Apart from the “throwing it in rice” thing – I don’t have much first aid knowledge but I’m pretty sure uncooked rice is never going to be the right answer.
6. The point where you realise it’s over.
After a while of being in the store I find that I’m completely over it, despite the fact my phone keeps overheating, dramatically dying and then switching back on again, I’ve moved on from its bullshit and am now trying to find something that will last longer and marginally improve my life. End up going with something that is less expensive and actually gives me more data and assistance than the gurgling thing in my hand that is now covered in starch from the mixture of rice and toilet water.
I guess the moral of my little adventure with anxiety is that despite how gut-wrenchingly awful you might feel watching your phone, relationship, or even brain, sink into a watery grave of questionable hygiene, it’s not that bad. Even though all the memories, photos and silly things, like un-backed up WhatsApp conversations that you’re never going to read again but felt nice having ‘just in case’, are gone at the end of the day a phone is just a thing, this moment is just that, a moment and a person is just another human who is also flailing around trying to navigate the universe.
It sucks but you’ll have new ones. These are all temporary – there will be funnier conversations and better memes.
Besides – the guy helping you pick out your new phone is cute