Can a human survive without a mobile phone and the internet?

Since moving house I have had the pleasure of meeting lots of new friends.  Amongst which I count a couple of young lads, early twenties, who have both rekindled my faith in the human race, whilst at the same time reminding me how doomed we all are.

They are twins.  Their father owns some lovely woodland near us, and they do all the physical stuff with the trees.  They have long hair, huge hands, whizz around in a tiny beaten up car, and wear gargantuan steel capped boots.  They are true gentlemen; well mannered, respectful, and interested in others no matter what their age or background.

Said tree is that green straggly thing on the left.  Not exactly in keeping, and blocks a lot of light.

Said tree is that green straggly thing on the left. Not exactly in keeping, and blocks a lot of light.

We bumped into them in the pub last night, and something remarkable happened.  I had sent them an email asking if they would like to pop round to cut down a tree in our garden (they have certain expertise in this field, and I thought might appreciate a cash boost to their earnings.)  We’d had no reply, so I presumed they were not interested, so went ahead yesterday and chopped most of it down myself.

As soon as we walked into the pub for a well earnt pint, Miles said: “A mate printed off your email for me yesterday about the tree.  Sorry I haven’t replied, only I don’t have a computer.”.

A conversation ensued, as you might imagine, during which it became clear that only one of the bothers possesses a mobile phone, and neither has a computer.  The other is considering it, but only so that they can communicate when one of them needs a lift back from some other part of the woods.  No other reason for having one.

Wow!  22 years old, no Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo accounts?  How do they get by?  Perfectly well, it seems.  They are two of the most well balanced, authentic, interesting and happy young people I have met in years.  Always laughing, full of energy, happy with their lot and totally at ease with themselves.

I find myself comparing this with the vast majority of the human race, whose fate I bemoan regularly on this Blog.  We are all doomed, I propose.  Let me give you some personal observations to substantiate my claim, all witnessed within the last week:

  • Go on then, eat that without putting down your phone!

    Go on then, eat that without putting down your phone!

    A guy in a restaurant in Brussels eating a bowl of spaghetti in its entirety with one hand whilst studying his iphone throughout.  He did not put the phone down once.

  • A day of training, 3 different groups of people, hardly any of which turned up with a pen so they could write things down
  • Sitting in an airport lounge and listening to the frenzied Skype calls and phone conversations.  So hard not to tune in, and so utterly inane when you do.
  • Watching two Californian (they made sure we knew that) girls showing off their purchases from London.  Glittery high heeled platform shoes (whatever they are called these days).  Moaning about the price of diamonds.  Loudly.

According to some research published in The Guardian this week, 49% of 14 and 15-year olds feel they are addicted to the internet, and 77% take a phone or computer to bed.  These numbers are never going to improve, are they.  As these kids grow up and have children, they will be passing on this behaviour, and it will become the norm.  We have travelled way past the point of no return.  Sadly I am still going to be around to see this stuff gain momentum.  It’s here to stay.

We are turning into dysfunctional freaks and weirdos, all of us.  Well, nearly all.  It is all about pressure to conform, keeping up with the pace, multitasking, not knowing when to stop, everything a million miles per hour.  And that’s just me, and I’m not half as bad as the rest, of that I am sure.

Thank goodness for the Miles’ and Jamies, who reminded me that the world does still spin without this crap.

They were disappointed to hear the tree had been chopped, because they wanted to come and dig it out (are you sure, this is a 10 foot high Yew Tree) because they don’t have any Yew in their woodland.  How green is that?  So fortunately it is still 4′ high, minus its branches, and probably ideal for transplanting.  They’ll be round next week to dig it out in their big clodhopping boots.  Thus saving a tree and saving me a lot of sweat.  Thank you boys!  In more ways than one.

© Igor Mojzes –

About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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3 Responses to Can a human survive without a mobile phone and the internet?

  1. …I’m acutely conscious of my age when I read this. When I was a child, my parents would castigate me for having my head in a book continually and yet now, when my children do their version of suspending reality (playing games etc), I find it difficult to stomach! As ever the issue is balance.


    • Good point! It’s easy to assume that because people are using a gadget, they must in some way be wasting time. Perhaps they are doing something important and productive, and it’s easy for us not brought up with these devices to criticise. Thanks for that bit of perspective!


  2. laura sly says:

    Enjoyed this post Michael – thank you. I write quite a bit about disconnecting for a while too… and saw this phone-free Friday challenge to support the Samaritans earlier. Fancy it?


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