My smartphone addiction is laid bare as I unexpectedly go cold turkey in supermarket – Susan Dalgety

The online, virtual word is increasingly part of the real one (Picture: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)The online, virtual word is increasingly part of the real one (Picture: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
The online, virtual word is increasingly part of the real one (Picture: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
As I scrambled through the mountain of selection boxes and assorted Christmas goodies in my supermarket trolley, I was almost on the verge of tears.

“It must be here,” I muttered, far too loudly, as I tossed boxes of mini vol-au-vents to the side,“please let it be here”.

But my most precious possession – after my family of course – was nowhere to be seen. My iPhone, resplendent in its Perspex case with a Bowie sticker, was not in the trolley. It was not in my rucksack, nor my coat pockets. I had lost it.

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I cut my shopping trip short and rushed home, stopping at my local pharmacy where I had picked up a prescription earlier, to breathlessly ask, “has anyone handed in a phone?” I pleaded. “Sorry, no,” came the terrible reply.

As I contemplated life without my phone and the cost and hassle of replacing it, I felt sick. The Apple device, unleashed on an unsuspecting world only 14 years ago, contains my world.

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Irreplaceable snapshots of my grandchildren as toddlers, my record collection, my Covid status, my overdraft. It is my home office, my library, my newsagent, my social life. How would I cope without it? Even for 48 hours?

I didn’t have to. I had left it on the hall table while picking up a facemask. “It’s an age thing,” a friend later messaged me.

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It lay there, a piece of black plastic and glass, mocking my dependence on it. And I am not alone.

According to Ofcom, people check their phone every 12 minutes. Two in five of us look within five minutes of waking. I even check mine in the middle of the night, dependent on its archive of podcasts to keep my night terrors at bay. I am convinced my last words on this Earth will be “where’s my phone?”

It’s too late to worry whether our national obsession with smartphones is a good or a bad thing. It just is. We can no more return to a world without apps than we can live without running water. Now, where’s my phone? I need to check Twitter.

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