Only someone with the nerves of a concrete robot could say they don’t get anxious whenever they allow a friend to borrow their phone. Your personal person is totally laid bare the moment the exchange is made. What’s on your handset? Raunchy photos? Embarrassing texts? A questionable browsing history? Videos of you rolling around in a pavement puke-puddle? Even if you don’t have anything lurid on your phone, it’s still daunting.
Whenever I hand my phone over to someone, I get this uneasy frisson. Sort of like when a policeman looks you in the eye when walking past you in the street; or when a bouncer asks you where you’ve been tonight before you get into a club. You know you’ve not been anywhere bad, you’ve just been having a healthy amount of pre-drinks in a flat. But suddenly you’re sweating as though only hours ago you bludgeoned your ex-boyfriend and his new partner to death, and then buried the two bodies in the backyard. ‘Where have you been tonight?’ He asks again. Your dirt covered fingernails are betraying you, the bouncer knows – HE KNOWS!
I have this fear of letting anyone use my phone – partly out of paranoia, partly because I’m worried they’ll click somewhere they aren’t meant to and be treated to a view of me in the shower or a series of close-up and overwhelmingly intimate pictures of a random guy. There’s nothing incriminating in terms of sexually explicit texts or nudes on my phone (of me, anyway) and to be honest, you’d get more filth from a Jane Austin novel. Yet still I have this vague sense of guilt, like I’m hiding something, whenever I hand my phone to someone.
I have this fear that if someone was to use my phone, to check their mobile banking or whatever, they’d unwittingly stumble across an embarrassing gem of personal information. Say they go to a site that we both use, like Amazon or eBay, but the page automatically assumes that it’s me. Before I know it, the person will be presented with my list of suggested purchases, one composed of scented candles and self-help books for people who are terrible at love, with titles like ‘How to Stop Crying When You’re Alone’ and ‘Why Is Sex So Harrowing?’ My friends are decent enough people, but they don’t need a sad glimpse into my life, they’re bound to feel uncomfortable – that’s after they’ve stopped pointing and laughing.
Other phone-borrowing related fears include: Someone leaking one of my nudes. Someone noticing a spelling mistake in a text message. Someone seeing how much I text my therapist. Someones seeing how little she replies. Someone seeing how little my family reply. Someone seeing a text from my dad saying ‘who’s this?’ Someone seeing how unhinged I am via a rant message sent to a friend. Someone opening the Tumblr app – Gays, this is a universal fear.
Also, may I just add. Looking through someone’s nudes, when it’s pictures that weren’t meant for your eyes. Not cool. You just don’t do it, okay? Unless it’s on Tumblr, in which case it’s fine as you didn’t mean to stumble upon it, right? You were simply scrolling through a happy-feed filled with glorious dog pictures. It’s not your fault the pupper extravaganza was rudely interrupted by an erect penis.
I know a nude will be leaked at some point. Scarcely a month goes by when I’m not confronted with some leaked nudity-filled photo of someone I know through a friend or have seen about on nights out. I reckon within the next ten years there will be at least one naked photo of everyone somewhere on the internet. In fact, there’s a 43% chance your neighbour is rooting through an exhaustive collection of pictures of your butt right now. You might as well take a really good nude photo of yourself this afternoon, whilst you’re young and pliable, and upload it. Least that way a modicum of your dignity will be saved – you might be naked on the internet, but at least you look good. Do it now, before the peeping-tom equivalent of WikiLeaks does it for you. Cause it’ll happen to you, to your boyfriend, to everyone. This is the chaos that’s born from letting someone use your phone. They need to text their mum? Tell them to use smoke signals; or write a letter. Fuck I don’t know, if it’s that urgent they’ll do it.
You should also never borrow someones phone; I’ve done it and I have been burned, my friends. When you least expect it you’ll stumble upon one, a nude. A terrifyingly flash of full frontal nudity of someone you didn’t want to see naked – a cousin, a friend’s brother, that woman at work who smells like soup, Sam Smith. You’ll be browsing and suddenly it’ll be there. A flaccid penis dangling down your screen. Sporadic pubes springing out in all directions, a private-area that resembles Doc Brown’s from Back to the Future hair. And don’t pretend you’ll look away. You’ll stand and stare like the rest of us.
PS No, you cannot borrow my phone.