Smartphone with a mind of its own

Patricia Feehily


Patricia Feehily

Smartphone with a mind of its own

MY phone has a mind of its own. I don’t know whether it’s a smart phone or a technological idiot, but it has started ringing people of its own accord for no reason whatsoever – sometimes in the middle of the night when I’m nowhere near it.

I know what you’re thinking. There’s one technological idiot and it isn’t the phone. Well, you’re wrong.

Everyone thinks I’m mad, and some people are mad themselves – mainly at me. “Had a missed call from you at 4am. Are you alright or have you been lying on your phone again?” one texter asked.

I’m very embarrassed. I don’t bring the phone to bed with me for fear of exacerbating my sleep deprivation – I haven’t experienced REM for at least a year. “Then, you must be sleep-walking,” someone else suggested.

The galling thing is that everyone thinks it’s me. No one would even dream of pointing the finger at a bit of touchscreen plastic with a know-all attitude and an android imp embedded in it.

“There’s nothing wrong with this. You must be doing something queer yourself,” my daughter suggested, when I asked her to diagnose and fix the problem before it drives everyone I know around the bend, or, worse still, puts me on Tinder inadvertently. As soon as she handed it back, I saw that it was ringing the bank manager – all of its own accord – and it started while it was in her hands.

“Aargh!” I yelled at her. “What have you done? Kill it.” That’s the trouble with all this spontaneous dialling. It usually tries to contact the very people I’m desperately trying to avoid, or those who, I’m hoping, might somehow have let my actual existence slip from their minds. When my mystified daughter had left, I put the phone up on a shelf and glared at it. If I hadn’t been so paranoid at that particular moment, waiting for the bank manager to ring back, I’d swear I heard a chuckle coming from the annoying piece of pure pathological technology that boasts of being powered by Android. Oh My God, maybe it’s ‘Data’ himself, from ‘Star Trek’?

Admittedly, I’m an avowed enemy of technology, especially advanced technology. If I had my way, we’d still be writing letters to each other and corresponding by fountain pen. Ball point pens are too advanced for me too. The smarter those irksome phones get, the less I like them.

The trouble is I can’t do without them either. When we lost coverage during Snowmageddon, I panicked and, all I could think of was Scott trapped at the South Pole, without even a mobile in his pocket.

Come to think of it, the only mobile phone I ever liked was the first one I ever got. It didn’t ever try to control me. I was the one who pushed the buttons, and I have to admit, it made me feel very important.

For once in my life, I found myself beholden to technology. The contraption itself was as big as a briquette and every bit as heavy. It didn’t fit in my handbag because it had a big antenna sticking out of the top and so had to travel around in my hand. If I spent too much time yapping on it, my ear lobes reddened to an alarming extent and made me wonder if I should take some of the iodine tablets that Minister Joe Jacob had just sent in the post, as a precaution against radiation.

It wasn’t always very effective either and in some parts of County Limerick it didn’t work at all. I can’t name these places now for fear people would take offence as they did last week over a slur in another newspaper. I’ve made enough enemies with my current mobile phone, with creating any more.

All I can do, I suppose, is take it back to where I got it and ask them to disable some of its more impetuous features and make it less sensitive to the touch of a spider or whatever is setting it off in the middle of the night.

There’s no use telling me to switch it off, because it turns itself on automatically without any help from me. I tried removing every number I keyed into it when I got it, but there was no point. It had memorised them all.

In the meantime, sincere apologies to everyone who received an unsolicited call from my number over the past couple of months, especially the bank manager. It wasn’t me, I swear. It was the phone, out of control, or an Android having fun at my expense.