'If I lost my iphone I would die.'
'I can't live without my computer. My laptop is my life.'
'My camera is my baby. I don't go anywhere without it.'
Sound familiar? I'm sure we've all uttered at least one of these phrases throughout our lives. We are the technology generation after all.
I know I've said all three of these things, repeatedly.
I was given my first mobile phone by my best friends when I turned 17, bless them. I can still remember the sturdiness of that old Nokia 3315 (damn those things were indestructible). Before that was the dark ages, when we all used to race to the home phone, hopinghopinghoping it would someone calling for you. I grew up with dial up internet and MSN Messenger, holding my breath as I waited for the dial up to connect, sign me in and log me on, hours disappearing into inane chats. When the price of film mattered more than the camera, each picture precious and considered, and worthy of the week's wait for them to develop.
Gradually we all grew up, updating to smart phones and data allowances, free wifi, laptop bags, and rainbow wheels of death; digital cameras that snapped and clicked rather than whirred and wound, a thousand photos for a single image.
We are now the ones who are constantly plugged in. Always on line. Totally in tune to our ring tone, our vibrations, our blinking LED lights. We can talk and text at the same time, hold 17 conversations at once on fb chat. We have left MySpace for dust, and haven't quite gotten the point of Google+, though we all have a profile there. We do our homework with a million tabs open on our browser, reading fashion blogs, the paper, tweeting, and stalking, while making playlists in our itunes and plugging our mate's latest filmclip on youtube. We do this all at once.
Our parents don't understand. Mine have instituted a no-phones-at-dinner policy, and if you answer your phone, be it text or call, while at the dinner table, you are instantly on washing up duty. I have learned to recognise the glazed over look of concentration when someone is nimbly texting under the table, and forbear to ask them to pass the salt.
We are bound with cables and all the paraphernalia that comes with our gadgets. Chargers are shared around, easily lost and as easily replaced.
We share our lives online. We back ourselves up. For every photo that is published to facebook and flickr there are several that don't make the cut but loiter on our hard drives nonetheless. We are hoarders of memories, taking hundreds of photos in a single night out. I had over 14,000 photos on my laptop, gathered over just three years.
When I finally saved up to buy a DSLR I was in heaven. It was big, damnit, but it was good. It was worth the weight to carry around, worth ruining a million handbags trying to shove it in there. It was my baby, and if I couldn't fit it in its case, I'd wrap it up in a beanie or scarves, just so I could take it out.
I don't have my iphone anymore. I don't have my laptop, or my hard drive. I don't have my camera.
They were stolen from our car, on my amazing incredible two month jaunt around Europe. I still remember that gagging hot panic, realising that our car had been broken into. At first I just thought it was my laptop. Then I realised I couldn't see my camera. Or my handbag. It was gone. All of it.
Even now, I cannot bear to think of it. It is raw, like a wound that won't heal. And I endlessly go over in my head how it could have been different, how I could have not had them all stolen. But it's no use. They're gone.
I tell myself that no one died. That no one is hurt. And that if this is the worst thing to happen to me, then I am so lucky. That it's just stuff.
And I know it is so ridiculous, so #firstworldproblems to continue to cry over stupid electronic things that are gone. But it's not only the things themselves, it's how much of myself those things contained. I have lost all my photos. All 14,000 of them. All my photos of my trips to Prague and Paris, my London adventures. All the photos of my families and friends. All the photos that I shared only with one other person - the stupid, silly, adorable photos that you take when you're in love.
I have lost all my writing. All my uni assignments. Everything that constituted my portfolio. I have lost my links and my favourite sites. I have lost folder upon folder of inspirational images and content. I have lost memos and phone numbers and reminders. I lost a journal that was in my handbag, one that detailed all the craziness of the adventure so far, scribbles of musings and thoughts about our trip - how glad I was to reunite with my sister, reflecting on how much we'd both changed, and how we were so much the same. I'd even thought that maybe, just maybe, this trip could be the start of a book, a story of two sisters reuniting, of growing up and exploring. Of driving an old car through France, breaking down, drinking wine, dancing in a sunset over pastel coloured cliffs.
It gnaws at me that someone took all this from me. That along with the tangible electronics, they took all of this stuff of me.
I know my laptop has been wiped, and that it is somewhere near Rome (no Facebook, it definitely wasn't me trying to log on in Rome). I know my hard drive, where everything was backed up, has probably been thrown in a bin somewhere. As for my written journal - pfffft. Gone. Those words meant nothing to anyone except for me, if they could even read the English scrawl.
It's just stuff, I tell myself endlessly.
But it was my stuff, I can't help whispering back. Mine.
So what does that make me, a child of technology without all my stuff?
Electronically? Dead and dying. Literally? Not so much.
I haven't died, though I have no iphone.
My life is still with me, and not languishing with my laptop in Rome.
And I guess my camera wasn't really my baby, if it was taken from me so easily.
If I can ever work out this insurance muddle, I will replace the laptop. And maybe the camera one day. I have a new journal, which I continue to scribble in.
Though maybe I really am dying without an iphone. London sans Google Maps? Disaster.