By Arnel Patawaran
I would not have met a few of my lifelong friends, like the one in high school with whom I got stuck in a meeting in which only two of us showed up and so, without a smartphone to nag everybody else or tinker with while waiting, we spent the time talking.
I would not have spent so much of my 18 long summers trying to make a menagerie of myths out of the clouds in the sky.
I would have missed the adventures of getting lost in Hong Kong or New York or Paris, my only hope of finding my way in the hands of the strangers from whom I would ask for directions.
I would have missed my pre-“Before Sunrise” dialogue on a train from Milan to Florence with a girl from London traveling back to her hometown one stop before mine at Campo di Marte. That was nearly two hours of a very intimate conversation with a stranger who remained a stranger because we both didn’t bother to ask each other’s name even if we talked about things you only discussed with close friends or not even.
Would I have had the energy to climb trees, run across open fields, look for tadpoles in puddles, chase butterflies, invent games, pick fruits off the aratilis tree, dream, dream, dream to fill those many, many hours of nothingness?
I would have a hard time processing loneliness or boredom or solitude because on my smartphone there would always be action, something to like, the idea that I could live a life that isn’t mine.
I would not have had the time or the inclination to read as much as I have and God all the worlds, all the universes, all the characters I could have missed…if I had a smartphone when I was young.