Are freedom and independence merely illusions?

This post differs a bit from the ones I usually write. You see, it is not about cameras, lenses or photography for that matter.
It’s about a paradox in my life that I doubt I am the only one facing.
I’ve been advocating simplicity on this blog more than once and even though it has usually been focused on gear, this is not the only place I am “distilling” my belongings.
As a matter of fact, I have been getting rid of loads of stuff that were rarely used through the past couple of years. It has even been a game to thin out the clutter in my cupboards and drawers.
This way of thinking tends to fill a lot in your life. I have noticed that it has started influencing the way I work as well, which is good because the entire idea is to remove everything you do not need, in order to live a more independent and free lifestyle without spending time on earning money that you then spend on stuff that ends up holding you down.


This weekend I had an experience that made me think about how much of an illusion this independence is. I went shopping at the local mall. I had written a grocery list on my smartphone in advance and when I were done paying for the groceries, I went to the car, threw the groceries in the car and got in. Then I kinda panicked as I noticed that my smartphone were missing.
At first I thought it had slipped out my pocket, but no. It wasn’t hiding with the groceries neither. I then had to backtrack my whereabouts to the last places I remembered having had my phone in my hand, but to now avail. The employees at the mall hadn’t received a lost phone neither, and considering the vast amount of customers at the mall it all seemed hopeless.
In the end, there were nothing else to do than to go home and call my phone operator and ask them to close down the SIM.


Around this time I started noticing how addicted I were to my smartphone. It’s my phone, alarm clock, music player, browser-on-the-go, always-with-me camera, email client, calendar, navigation and loads more. Suddenly everything were gone. Not that I had lost a lot of data, files or images, those are always synchronized to some cloud based services, but gone as in “not at hand”.
It occurred to me that a big part of my independence were really an illusion. In reality I had just traded a lot of physical things with virtual counterparts, encased in a single physical device.
In a way it were against my principals to be so dependent on a dead thing, while on the other hand it were against all my principals to reject the conveniences that a smartphone has to offer.The rest of that day I felt a bit uneasy. I felt isolated. I felt like I were missing something that I should not be missing.

That evening I went back to the mall just to see if a kind soul had returned a found phone.
Then the miracle happened. Indeed my smartphone had been found, it didn’t even have any scratches. Euphoric I thanked the employees and went back hope to have my operator reopen my SIM.
Everything were now back as is should be…


…except that I still have this nagging feeling that one should not be so addicted to a thing.

The question that remains is if I simply have to accept that it’s like that or if I should be trying to figure out how to be less addicted to a single device.
Will having a single smartphone instead of a lot of single purpose things make you more or less free?

(This post were originally written i danish.)