Why I don’t want to replace my iPhone

My iPhone was stolen. Again. This time it was my iPhone 4 which I had paid full price to replace my 3GS stolen just last December. So I had it for less than 12 months. This stolen iPhone habit is expensive, like a crack high but even more addictive. I’m not the only person who’s gotten addicted to their iPhones, in Vancouver a bunch of us would go to dinner and spend much of the time taking pictures, checking in and tweeting where we were and who we were with. When I’m not doing that, I’m using it to play music. I rarely use it to call or text. But it’s always in my hand’s reach. Woke up during the night and this morning to check it and of course, realised it was gone. This withdrawal is no fun at all

(Perhaps I can buy a map and pay a troubador to follow me around and sing songs. I ordered a carrier pigeon, I’ll name him Steve. )

My mother said ‘well surely you aren’t going to buy another one?’ To which I replied, ‘of course I am. I need it’. The thought of not replacing it never crossed my mind, being such a huge part of my life. But after the second time that you get robbed, you start to feel a little aggrieved at the technology. Why has reliance on a phone made me such a target? The constant need to be checking it, to see what I had missed on social networks. Except for connecting me through photosharing and WhatsApp, I’m not sure how much it has added any happiness to my life. The happiness : heartache ratio is starting to wear on me.

It makes things easy, sure. I can always find myself if I’m lost, checking transport links on the move and never having to print stuff out. But is that worth always having to make sure no-one is trying to steal it? I also have to protect it from dropping or scratching, meaning a $40 iPhone cover was stolen too. I’m just not sure that owning the phone is worth it any longer.

The policeman told me, ‘they never steal a Blackberry, or a HTC’. Well, that’s probably because they suck, and despite market share, actually no one really wants them. Apple should be happy theirs is the desired phone to steal, maybe they can use those stats in a promotion.

This time I made it home, located it, (possibly) wiped it and switched off the service in a half hour, beating my last theft by an hour. Although is this really something I want to become accomplished at? If I replace it and it gets stolen again, can I beat my personal best ‘from theft to wipe’ time?’ That is certainly a depressing thought.

“Can’t you just use ‘Find my iPhone’?'”

People put too much faith in ‘Find my iPhone’. It’s not a mobile Robocop. In a city street, it cannot locate specific houses, let alone apartments and the police will never go in to retrieve your device. They can’t just search and seize apartments. The best you can hope is to wipe it, but make sure you try to locate it first. Once wiped, you can do nothing more. Even if you wipe it, this will only work if they haven’t switched it off and once your service cuts you off, there is no way to wipe unless it connects to wireless again.

You’re supposed to get an email when the wipe starts. I didn’t. I can only hope and pray they wipe it soon themselves.

Perspective, there you have it.

The truth is I am too reliant on it, never looking up as I am walking, putting myself in danger crossing the street and walking home. Maybe in Canada, where this sort of theft is a lot less prevalent, I was safe but in London, if you own an iPhone you’re a walking target. I am thankful I wasn’t mugged for it. My aunt was mugged in London twice, friends mugged at knife and gun point.

As I sat in Islington Police Station, thinking ‘I cannot believe I am here again’, a scruffy man came in and sat down beside me. He recounted how he had locked his dog in a disabled toilet during the fireworks, lost the key and wanted to get the police to help him to get it out. He had no money for a locksmith. I asked him when he had last fed the dog, could he not wait till morning and he said no, his bed was in there. ‘I’m homeless, you see.’ Perspective, I got it.

‘What happened to you?’ He asked.

‘Someone stole my phone.” Christ, how ridiculous I am. Telling a homeless man how upset I am at losing a piece of very expensive technology when he had no bed now.

Another woman and her daughter were in the station complaining that a neighbour was harassing them and they were having to move house because of it. ‘Wasn’t there anything that could be done?’

Three sets of people, three very different problems. I wasn’t homeless, I wasn’t being harassed. But I’m still upset and way too attached to a piece of tech.

Why I don’t want to replace it

The robbery specialist was sympathetic, his job to get statements from countless snatch and grab phone thefts. He told me after Steve Jobs’ death, he wondered if the man ever knew how much heartache he caused people over these devices. Happiness… Yes. An easier lifestyle… of course, but heartache too. The more convenient you make someone’s life, the worse it is when it is taken away.

I don’t even have a clock. Had to turn my Macbook on during the night to see what time it was.

Putting too much of yourself on any device is a mistake. One that I have made twice now. My whole life is on that, texts, emails, really personal info. Hell, even my period tracker. How am I going to know when to expect it now?! I no longer want to be so attached to any tech.

Mostly I still haven’t gotten over the shock of him grabbing it, I got such a fright and it keeps replaying in my head.

This morning getting my americano in Shoreditch Grind, I thought of all the instances I would have used my phone there. Foursquare to check in, Instagram to snap a pic of the cool logo on the wall, Yelp to check its reviews, Twitter to complain about the fact they forgot to put my order through, Facebook and Gmail to check as I waited, Shazam to see what that cool song that was playing was.

Instead I perched on a stool, and returned the smile and ‘good morning’ the cute barista gave me.

Being unplugged has its perks. You see people and they see you. You’re no longer giving them that ‘I don’t want to acknowledge you’ headphones look. You are back in the world and aware of your surroundings, forced to *be* and not creating your own world to disengage into.

I might get to finish that book I started. Stop seeing peoples’ Facebook and Twitter updates that bother me.  Stop caring about stupid shit on the internet.

But when will I stop wondering what I’m missing? And when can I stop being afraid of them stealing my identity.