A few weeks ago I was on a wedding video assignment and when I had a spare moment I decided to load some data on my iPhone since it was getting low.
I loaded 250MB which is usually enough to last me through the month, sometimes a little longer. Because I’m on home wifi most of the time I don’t really have a huge need for mobile internet access. I use it for things like Whatsapp and Facebook when I’m out of the box. Anyway, the day after I loaded the data I got a message from the service provider telling me that my data was depleted to 10MB. Whaaat? How’d that happen? Was it these stupid Facebook videos that autoplay? Something in the background updating itself? Who knows. All I I can say is that I basically euthanised a perfectly good R39 buying the data and got nothing back in return.
In most circumstances I would kick up a ruckus about this with whoever is trying to rip me off, but something inside me said ‘wait, just leave it alone’. So I did nothing about it. My phone hasn’t had any data loaded on it since then. I’ve been out shopping and walking around the beachfront and guess what? I didn’t die without having access to the internet. If people really need to get hold of me I still have my phone on me and I have a number that as far as I can tell still works for voice calls on the cellular network. It also receives regular text messages via SMS.
Weird thing about this; I’m not missing the compulsion to check Facebook or the weather or the news while I am at a coffee shop or on an assignment break at all anymore. I spend the time observing my surroundings instead. Doing that makes me feel better because most other people I see are totally engrossed in their phones all the time. Some of them are talking to one another but mostly I see them sitting together peering into those little screens like something magnificent is going to crawl out of them at any second and completely change the way they live. Not likely to happen unless Mark Zuckerberg has somehow stumbled onto yet another person’s good idea and thrown billions of greenbacks at it to make it his.
So, I’ve made a decision to only load data on my phone again if I am travelling away from home on an assignment or in an emergency where I absolutely have to use the internet to look something up. Fortunately the service provider I am with makes it very easy to convert existing airtime into a data bundle with a USSD code. Easy enough to do. My mobile phone has become a mobile phone again and not a distraction or curtain for me to rudely slip behind when I am in somebody’s company.
I guess I actually did get something for my R39. I got my freedom back.