Or being parted from your god.
Following on from an article I wrote a few weeks ago, about The god In Your Pocket, it has since occurred to me that for some people, not having that same god that I wrote about in their pocket might be a kind of hell.
If you are reading this but have not read the original article, the pocket god in question that I allude to is, of course, the mobile phone.
There are certainly more definitions of hell than there are religions. For a Christian, one of the definitions of hell is to be in a place where God is not; to be parted or separated from God.
Have you noticed how many people there are whose life seems to revolve around their smartphone, especially iPhone owners who are practically a cult that has formed it’s own religion. In some cases it would not be going too far to suggest not just that their life revolves around the phone but that the phone actually controls their life, and controls them. For those people being parted from their phone feels like a punishment or sentence; a living hell cut off from their god.
This ‘phenomenon’ seems to be much, much more prevalent in the younger members of our society, than those who reached adulthood before the mobile became ubiquitous and affordable to virtually everyone, or at least everyone in the prosperous western world.
It is not just a physical parting from their object of worship, that causes them anxiety. If they forget to feed their phone (charge the battery) or make their offerings (top up their account) it becomes a lifeless slab of metal and plastic, just weighing down a pocket or handbag which no amount of loving attention can resuscitate without the proper obeisance and sacrifice.
To see some of these people when their phone stops working is like watching a drug addict going cold turkey.
Of course for some people, hell is actually to have a working phone in their pocket, vibrating and whistling and interrupting at any moment, frequently an inconvenient moment. Like a god of old who, through his priests, punishes all who do not answer his call. They can never be away from work, even when they are on holiday, or with their family. They feel obliged to check the phone at every bleep or tone, and answer every call or every message immediately. They seem incapable of using the voicemail as it is intended, if their phone is within reach.
The mobile phone is a good servant and a bad master. Too may of us allow our phone to control us by temptation, subversion and nagging. It is time to take back control.