PART ONE- ME
When I got my first mobile phone, I was totally thrilled. It was such a fresh and exhilarating experience: there I was in Primary 5, one of the “classified” few to have a phone.
Even though it was just a pitiful, hand-me-down Nokia 3310 with yellow screen and no internet connection, it had Snake, the game I spent the better part of my childhood playing. That phone was the beginning of the end of any real relationship I had. In fact, if you wanted to be my good friend, you had to be able to reasonably compete with me in the game and occasionally beat my high score at least. Painfully, that phone also marked a turning point in my knowledge in Maths, a journey that went south of course. Phone calculators- one of the most wonderful innovations- has a way of wordlessly motivating one to use it in executing the simplest arithmetic rather than use one’s brain. As basic as that phone was at the time, it kept me away from whatever filial duties were expected of a good child. Countless times, I kept my mother awake with the sound of the “kpa-kpa-kpa” the phone always made.
With the newer and the more fascinating lure of Androids, oh my gosh! You can only imagine how much “better” I am now. Now I can press away my time and no one would ever hear a thing. Sometimes, I get phone sick at having a dead battery for an hour. When I was little, the whole family – all seven of us- eat together at the dining table and have lively conversations about our daily lives. It was always fun and oh my father! He never failed to regale us with all the fun tales of his early life and stories of the ever crafty tortoise. That story has changed. Now, when I call my father, he assumes I’m calling to ask for money even when this is not the case. And I wonder, what has happened to the relationship that always made me want to rush home from school in my dirty uniform and throw myself into my loving father’s arms? Your guess is as good as mine!
PART TWO- YOU
Have you ever felt the pain of not having money to subscribe on your phone? That pain is different –slow, silent, choking. You just want to get online to catch up with whatever the world is talking about even if it does not affect you in any way. You want to participate in the “lols”, “smhs” “idks” craze students get involved in. And then you wonder why your language skills are getting worse by the day.
Every day, I see you. You are always there, typing away your life at the dining table, in class, in your churches and mosques, while doing assignments, in cafeterias. Even the loo is not spared from your mobile assault and so you take double the time you ought to take. You chat with people who are far and ignore people who are near. You eagerly accept friend requests of people from China but reconsider accepting your father’s friend request, eh? Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat, Slack and of course, the world wide web of madness is just really a very knotty distraction. When will sending a message or calling our loved ones not be too much of a bother for you?
You no longer have conversations with your siblings or find talking to your parents enjoyable but your online girlfriend has your attention whenever she wants it. Every time I walk past you, gazing longingly for even a minute of your attention but all you do is bury your head in your phone. My finely plaited cornrows and bouncy gaits go unnoticed. If only I could somehow transform into your phone for a minute, then maybe I will be worth your attention.
Somehow, that little device that was supposed to bring us closer is pulling us apart. To put it achebeically, Technology is very clever. He came quietly and peaceable with his mobile phone…he has held a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
How the pre-phone world fills me with nostalgia!