By Hans Ebert

The first reaction is one of panic. Good Gawd, both my iPhones are not recharging! The batteries aren’t going to last for much longer! I have to tell people that this is happening! What if my phones have died on me? What about all my drafts?!!! My photos!!!

So, while having a Yeezy moment, the girlfriend looks at my meltdown and calmly says, “Baby, you’re not breathing. You must breathe. You’re having an anxiety attack about nothing. And can you buy yourself some new underpants? There are holes in what you’re wearing. Never mind. I’ll buy them for you.”

You inhale and exhale slowly and try and try to Keep. It. Together. You feel like Eddie Murphy’s character did in “Bowfinger” when he thought he was being followed by aliens.

It’s tough going, however, as nothing is computing. Keep it together? But how? Where are my enablers? Where’s mummy? The mother figure has work to do. She’s gone. Left me a banana and a yogurt shake for breakfast. This health kick is yet to kick in.

I get on my exercise bike, but this doesn’t take me anywhere. Neither does stretching, skipping and doing sit-ups. The Calm app downloaded to help me relax is not working. That woman’s voice asking me to clear my mind from all thoughts is not having a calming influence on me. Neither are the sounds of nature.

Life without a mobile phone. No one prepared me for this. There should be 12 Steps to handle this new addiction.

There’s a landline phone at home. Really. But it’s all the way at the end of the living room. Had forgotten it was even there. Who uses landlines anyway? I’ve even forgotten how to use a landline. It’s so Eighties. Plus how do I carry a landline with me when having to go outside of the apartment? Or maybe, I should just go back to bed, have a nap, wake up and this might have just been a very bad dream? But there’s the day ahead…

There’s a strange feeling walking around outdoors without a mobile phone in your hand and a headphone in your ears. It’s as if the whole world is staring at you. It’s as if you’re naked. You almost forget how to walk. Which foot goes first?

You get into an escalator. Everyone is staring into that phones. Except you. And so you stare up at the floor numbers. Something and anything to keep the brain from going into overload.

You fidget with your hands in the pockets of your jeans just to give the impression that you’re busy. You then realise some might think you’re doing the hanky panky. You wonder if everyone can see the panic written all over your face. But they’re all staring into their phones.

You arrive at your designated floor and try to stride out purposefully and confidently. But, again, those legs seem to be stiffening up.

You’re then suddenly hit with a train wreck of different thoughts- vegetables, emojis, logos, lyrics, melodies, the Lefsetz Letters, algorithms, Mr Creosote… I hear Eddie Murphy again. Keep. It. Together. Be brave. Breathe. Just a few more steps. It’s time to fight, not flee.

You’re now at your favourite coffee shop. The staff know you well, but you feel they know that there’s something different about you. That you’re without your mobile phone.

You stare at the menu you can recite by heart. There’s a mild anxiety attack thinking of the calls you might have missed. You wonder about your tweeps on Twitter. You think about everything you could be tweeting. The tweets fill your head. You hear Grace Slick singing, “Tweet your head”. Suddenly, I miss videos of cute cats.

My friend comes to meet me. We’re having a meeting to work on a few things together. Social media stuff. He loves to talk. About anything. I just want him to stop. I tell him about my inability to use BOTH my mobile phones. He’s not listening. He’s off and running and talking about “crazy numbers”. He insists that I watch a video on Instagram of some song by someone we know. I don’t see the point. It’s of zero interest to me. And so is talk of “boosting numbers just to look good.”

What the hell’s the point? Paying to appear popular to one’s self. All I want to do is not feel as if I am in some thunder dome with Mad Max and with nothing making sense.

Still, my friend keeps talking and talking and talking and talking about logins and views and writing descriptions for videos etc etc, I kinda zone out. And then…my ears go pop.

Grace Slick is back. This time she’s singing, “Free your head”. I’ve been sitting for hours without my mobile phones. I’ve been scribbling ideas on my napkin. I had taught myself to write again. With a pen. To think for myself.

Have mercy! I feel liberated. I’m whacked with a white light shining down on me. Like Blues Brother John Belushi seeing the light.

Watching my friend try to come to grips with how and why social media and all the obvious payments to be noticed with absolutely no return on time and investment should matter made me think about the number of people I know who are NOT on social media, are perfectly happy and have no inclinations to join the sheeples.

They may watch at what’s happening or not happening from the sidelines for a nanu second. For instance, too often, mediocrity pretending to be music. Or mute the intellectual midgets often found on Twitter who couldn’t string two sentences together. Who cares? Who ARE they? Why should they matter?

That’s what’s now on repeat: Who cares? And what really matters? What are we doing here? Why is the mobile phone controlling so many lives? It’s TROLLING lives.

Maybe this is why there’s so little of anything that’s GOOD and new being created. Plenty of clutter. Very little substance. Lots of Pontificators about everything but with no answers. Lots of involvement in everything but nothing in particular. No focus. Just scattered thinking.

Look at who’s in the White House. Look at the chaos he’s creating with his tweets. He’s leading America from the online world.

But where’s the new Steve Jobs? The next Walt Disney? No Beatles, no “Pet Sounds”, no Pink Floyd, no Dylan singing how the times they are-a-changing. Where’s the new generation of filmmakers? On Instagram??? Please.

There’s none of the above. It’s why some of us keep going back to another time for inspiration. There’s nothing here, at least for right now. But maybe there can be. And that’s by actually doing instead of pretending. Inspiring one’s self by owning what you create and working at making this more than what it is. Not another Me Too product.

It’s where the technology is not the idea. It’s where the lightbulb has been switched back on and priorities are staring you in the face.

By the way, I bought a dozen new underpants. Armani. And in different designs. There was a new charger waiting for me when I got home. First thing I did? Deleted all the clutter. All those from WhatsApp who don’t matter. The users.

It’s like “followers” on social media. Who “collects” these? And for what? The tail is wagging the dog here. A new cult has been formed.

Social media can be used for good, or it can be used for bad. Anger. Frustration. Hate. Hashtags for every occasion. And wasting time going everywhere and nowhere where you don’t belong. Where you have no voice despite how many “followers” bought.

It’s like depending on that mobile phone to get you through life. It can’t. It’s an immobile object. It has no heart, soul or direction of home.

The only one who can get you through life and make things happen is you. It’s not going to be some app. Not another “delivery platform “. These have come from someone else’s mind as part of THEIR creativity. To make THEM money. Like every other wannabe Zuckerberg. These are nothing to do with making things happen in the real world that mean something to YOU.

Change. Switch off. Tune in to the real world. There’s no time to waste. To paraphrase Dylan, If you’re not busy living- and doing things for yourself with a sense of purpose- you’re busy dying.

#mobilephone #socialmedia #reallife #getreal