The Smartphone App Purge

Author’s note: No phone applications were permanently harmed during the writing of this post, and everything you are about to read definitely maybe happened.

Sitting in Santo Domingo Plaza, under the protection of a dark tinted cafe tent, I was scrolling through the touchscreen of my smart phone when suddenly a crazy notion pinched me on the arm:

All of the apps on the phone are starting to stress me out.

Maybe the effects of caffeine hadn’t quite hit my system yet, but in that moment I felt that it was time to go back in time, back to the days when I hardly used applications. Looking at the screen, I felt overwhelmed by all of the programs that I’d been collecting like vintage Pokemón trading cards. Scanning a rough estimate, I counted about forty apps. In my mind most of them were purely used out of convenience, and not out of necessity.

I took a deep breath and hopefully it was only a lack of coffee that was making my index finger shake.

The first victims were my travel apps: Hostelworld, the ALSA bus app, and Skyscanner. Screen press, click, click, click, and soon all of my news apps disappeared into digital oblivion as well. The phone swamp was getting drained. Flashes of 2012 started flickering in my mind, or maybe even as far back as 2010. I was feeling lighter and maybe a little bit younger.

However, the sudden crowning of absolute power caught me off guard, and without thinking I deleted my Gmail app.

Shit. I probably still needed that one.

This cafe didn’t have wifi and my Vodafone data plan was running on fumes, so I wouldn’t be able to redownload Gmail from the app store until I found a hotspot somewhere.

I thought oh well, and continued weeding the crystal glass garden sitting in the palm of my hand.

I decided that Spotify and Whatsapp were two untouchables, but why not delete Facebook Messenger? One press and click later, I remembered that a lot of friends back in the United States exclusively communicated through Messenger. If they didn’t think I was dead yet, or at the very least trapped in a well somewhere, then now they absolutely would.

Shazam? Gone. Skype? Bye bye. Instagram? Gulp, let’s see what happens.

Oh wait.

Before I knew it, the display on my phone had downsized to merely one page. I didn’t need to scroll anymore, everything was right there in front of me. The trauma of a couple unnecessary deletes left me a little rattled, but a sip of coffee swished away the temporary grief. I could finally breathe, and the stress that these apps had for some reason caused me was starting to finally recede like a reverse lava flow.

Without having time to enjoy my recently achieved weight-loss, a really cool song started playing in the cafe’s background stereo system.

Damn, I would have liked to know who that was.

Now I’d never know because the space on my screen where Shazam used to raise its family was now occupied by a square-shaped icon of absolutely nothing. I could have asked some cafe employee, but pressing a blue button on my screen seemed more appropriate. Also, usually the people working there didn’t even know that there music was playing. I remembered a funny picture that a friend tagged me in on Instagram, and soon I felt like a criminal. Had the power been taken too far? What kind of calamity had I just committed?

I was inspired to vent about my brash burst of decision making in a blog post, but that wasn’t possible, either. WordPress and the Pages app were only memories.

Did I even have money to pay for the coffee? I could have easily checked my bank balance to make sure that I could pay by debit-card, but the BBVA mobile app wasn’t there to help.

Oh no, did I have a private English lesson this morning?

My Google Calendar app was gone, but luckily no angry Whatsapp messages had flashed on my screen yet.

Digging around with my non app-destroying hand and salvaging one euro from my front jean pocket, I paid a cafe employee and scanned the horizon for a place that might have a public wifi network. I needed to right these wrongs, and I had to do it quickly. If only I had Google Maps to guide me…

I stood up and sent my gaze around the plaza, accidentally making awkward eye contact with a lady who had just ordered a croissant.

Is she really going to put that much butter on that thing?

I decided the best option was to go to the library. I’d pillage their wifi and pretend to read books…

The End?


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