3 years ago for day 58, 2019 with 523 words.

On Being Tethered to a Phone

Today was supposed to be a fun day, except it turned to hell at around 12:45 when I lost my phone, on my motorbike, heading towards a hot spring with a friend.

As soon as I realized it was missing. We doubled back on the road twice and asked some nice shop owners where I had parked my bike if they had seen it. Nothing.

We cancelled the hot springs date and came back to my gym to try to make calls to the phone. It was off. I tried Google's tracking - the signal was off and last seen an hour ago, exactly when I had lost it.

I didn't realize that losing a phone could be so devastating. I had not one but two SIM cards inside, one of which is a US number I use for all authentications and taking business calls. And then there were thousands of photos I hadn't backed up, as well as countless conversations. For the rest of the day, I felt fragile, disconnected. It is crazy how much of my personal life and reputation is stored in a device that could slip out of sight any minute and be gone, just like that.

Technology is supposed to make things more convenient, but phones have now blurred the line between dependency and convenience. I'm still hanging on a thread that my poor Huawei P10 might turn up the next day or two. Maybe a nice soul will pick it up, maybe they've fallen asleep and didn't answer the rings. Or maybe this is all wishful thinking on my part - someone had likely already wiped the phone clean and is selling it on a secondhand market for a pretty penny.

At dinner, I sat with my friend at the mall and sighed. She was also having a rough time being sick. We talked about our responsibilities living here: We have to be accountable for strengthening our bodies while training daily, be responsive with clients half a world away, grow our business, and be present for the community. We reflected on how difficult it is to find a balance, despite doing all the things we love. A phone can be replaced, but cancelling and re-authenticating a million accounts attached to it is going to be a pain.

I thought about on the way back how much I envy the men training at my gym. Most have one job back home. They work a lot and save, then travel here for three months at a time. All they need to worry about is training well and resting before the next session. Sometimes I wish I could sleep instead of doing taxes, or didn't have to answer client calls at 10pm, or having to upkeep a profile in tech and network in order to generate leads for my work. It seems as though I'm always tethered to a phone, a screen, an identity that travels with me.

This version of freedom as it turns out is a costly one. Losing a phone along with everything that it stood for made me realize it.

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By Hannah Wei

@herlifeinpixels on Twitter. Here to conquer my fear of writing publicly. Product consultant. Ex-startup founder. Athlete.

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