(This was originally written as a free writing exercise during the Write Shop organized by the Cebu Literary Festival which was held last Saturday at the Museo Sugbo)
I run out of the house and get into my Grab car. The first thing I do after I close the door is to check my phone. The battery is down to 50%. Thank God the roads are not congested. I check my watch from time to time. Well, almost like every five minutes. I’m running late for my class.
I’m halfway to school when I realize I left something important. An everyday, ubiquitous object but something important to me. I left my mobile phone charger. I left it at home, in my haste, and now I feel helpless and incapacitated.
I left my mobile phone charger.
In my haste, I had forgotten to put it inside my bag. I feel helpless and incapacitated without it.
My mind goes into an overdrive mode thinking about all the crazy things that could happen without my charger. Oh no, I have a dinner with good friends later. That is bound to need a phone to document the evening. How am I supposed to snap every moment, the food and the place, and oh yes, the company, if my phone dies out on me?
My professor is scheduled to send me his comments about my abstract through Messenger. How am I supposed to check them if I have no battery, no charger? I realize how many of my tasks are dependent on my phone. My schedule and to-do list are in my phone. I book a ride through my phone. I communicate with my students through Messenger and Facebook Groups.
The Grab driver suddenly steps on the brake and I am jolted – physically and figuratively. It’s not the end of the world. My overthinking has led me to believe that leaving the house without a charger is a “catastrophe”. A modern lie and phenomenon that reflects the age I belong to but a lie nonetheless.
My mind has led me to believe that my life and my day depend on my phone. I get off from the car and turn the brightness down to several shades dimmer.
Evening came and photos were taken, life stories swapped and as nostalgia hit us, we snapped moments and froze moments digitally. I look down and check my phone. I’m down to 18%. I prioritize taking pictures of me and my friends instead of snapping the mundane away. No food and resto pics for me tonight. And maybe a photo or two of me and my friends is indeed the more important thing than all the food photos combined.
I book an Uber this time to go home and wait for the driver. He’s 6 minutes away. I adjust the brightness a shade dimmer. It’s very dim this time. I get into the car, get home and thank God for extending my phone’s battery life. It’s at 6% and I plug it into the charger. I heave a sigh of relief. Suddenly, everything feels better.
It’s a different type of survival — technological survival.