Three weeks ago, I was the victim of a crime. Thankfully there was no violence or any physical attacks upon my person, nor was there anything that was generally symptomatic of the broken Britain that doom-mongering tabloids peddle on a daily basis.
Instead, It was a crime of centuries old, fagin-esque proportions as I was pick pocketed halfway through a gig at my student union. It was a painless experience; given that it was my ancient iPhone 3G that was stolen, one that I'd dropped only two days prior, resulting in a massive crack on the screen.
But one thing I did experience was sheer panic. Mobile phones are for many, the social hub of our lives and that's just the way it is. I envisaged becoming a social hermit until I'd sorted the situation. Try as we might to organise ourselves with a diary, there'll always be an app that can do similar, if not more advanced tasks, whilst granting us the luxury of calling, texting, whatsapping or snapchatting friends. It was the inevitable onset of isolation from the theft that really shook me up.
One thing I never expected though, was that I now feel surprisingly liberated from the phone. I've always wondered how previous generations managed to juggle their social lives before the invent of such technologies. My mum will talk at length about how her nights out with friends would be organised by chats where pre arranged meeting points would be determined. This is what I've grown accustomed to over the last few days.
For example, I was heading back to my girlfriend's house after the gig and this was something we'd agreed prior to the theft. Sure, she didn't hear from me to anticipate when I'd arrive but she had more than enough sense to hazard a guess that I hadn't come to harm.
It was this routine that determined what I'd be up to in the week, with a particular instance being when I met friends after lectures to explain where we'd be meeting to go out that evening. There was no texting or calls involved, just old fashioned face to face conversation.
The day after the theft I managed to find a Gumtree listing of a phone very similar to mine. Even at this point I was nonchalant about its return and it was more the principle of the theft, than the phone's return that led me to report this to the police.
Three weeks on and I'm still without a phone. I've responded to my dad's emails about a replacement SIM card and my hospitable girlfriend has been only too keen to let me have her previous phone (even if I'm gifting her with £30). But, there's no doubt that the sense of freedom that the absence of a phone has granted me has been invaluable.
I never would have thought that I'd be able to keep in contact with the outside world without it, but I'd recommend the experience wholeheartedly. It may be a tad idealistic to suggest that this is a way of life we can permanently adopt, but it's definitely worth it for a week or so.
Just make sure you're only too aware of what your nearest and dearest are up to and tell them what's happening with you. Then embrace freedom. Isolate your iPhones, bin your blackberries, appreciate some good old fashioned conversation and break the shackles of the digital age.