The Survival Standard

Hello, my name is Athanasius, and this is a story of my survival. I faced a grueling two weeks so torturous, that it was tough to think how people survived this way a decade ago. This is my story. 

Okay, hold on a moment –

Exaggerations aside, this little article is more of a reflection of what I faced recently. In my previous post, I talked about how “When challenges come our way – what counts is how we get back.”

A huge challenge during my recent trip to Western Australia was the fact that my Samsung Galaxy S4 died completely (not in the battery way, I know how to charge electronics) after two years of excellent service. Upon time-of-death, while decomposition and flies did not settle in, the realisation of what I had lost did. Off the top of my head, here were some of my biggest phone-based challenges and how I solved them:

  1. Camera
    I have another one, thank goodness.
  2. Missing Files
    Oh well, I backed SOME up, it could’ve been worse?
  3. Alarm Clock
    The University dormitory had one (thank goodness), it was mostly a matter of learning how it worked. As for other hostels, I wasn’t alone in the room, so I could share wake-up times with my roommates (thank goodness).
  4. Instagram
    Slowness of my account was to be expected. However, there’s a Mac app for that. In case you were wondering: Gramblr.
  5. Note Taking
    Apparently, there are these cool inventions called pen and paper. It’s surprisingly reliable, but with most technology – not a good friend of water.
  6. Whatsapp
    Probably the biggest challenge I faced – I prioritised the importance of messages and went to Facebook and Twitter to announce my loss, as well as how people should reach me via Facebook Messenger for urgent messages.
  7. Music
    Meh. I’ll sing it.

While these were the functions I held dear, there are many other functions that a smartphone can have. To think, I saw the day once upon a time when handphones could only call, SMS and play Snake, and now, I depend on a similar device to serve as multiple other products. Writing it out, this device that we call a smartphone does not seem smart – it seems MAGIC.

Throughout the two weeks, I would be lying if I said I was not jealous of my phone-wielding friends as they whipped out their weapons at the sound of free Wi-Fi in a foreign land. Like a net in a butterfly park, they were all ready to grab every last bit of connection they could get.

Don’t get me wrong, that is not a bad thing, I would have most certainly done the exact same as I thought about all the juicy information and gossip I was missing back in Singapore or worse, messages from family that needed my urgent attention. The need to share my experiences through social media was also greater than ever, I wanted to share the sights and sounds as much as I could, although I was not doing the same a mere decade ago.

I know, we always hear how everyone nowadays is too buried into their mobile devices that they forget that there’s a life outside of it, but after facing the opposite for two weeks, I simply cannot blame people. The mobile world is a fantastic one, we as a society use it as recreation, education, business, etc. There IS a life outside of the mobile device, but the funny thing is – it’s a world filled with mobile devices.

As my friends and I adventured through Western Australia’s forests, beaches and death-defying cliffs, there was no doubt we all enjoyed nature – the fresh air, the fragrant flowers, the death-defying shaped rocks and all. Capturing it into our mobile devices and sharing it with the world was simply our way of making these moments last a little longer and sharing that bliss with the supposedly “sad” world we live in.

After all that, it was still a refreshing experience, and I am back with a new phone all settled in, but it is still important to point this out – I was not deprived of technology, I was deprived on convenience and shockingly, that was more than enough to put me into a confused state. Thankfully, unlike a Pokemon, I did not hit myself in confusion, because we have to face facts that the longer way does work, and most of the time, that’s the main priority – get the job done.

I’m not going to challenge people to put down their smartphones for two weeks or anything but I will say this: You should have seen the look of the phone shop staff’s face when I told her I went without a phone for two weeks – with eyes and mouth wide open, it was almost like she saw Steve Jobs walk in.