Last night my phone went rogue. It started spelling everything out on the screen. If I pressed anything, it just told me what I’d pressed, rather than doing anything. Swiping didn’t work. Pulling down the menu from the top didn’t work. Pressing the little buttons at the bottom of the screen didn’t work. Finding Settings didn’t work (I couldn’t navigate there).
Then I found restarting didn’t work. I turned the jolly thing off, and it restarted, unrepentant, unchanged, malicious, spelling out the buttons on my screen with a crazed leering voice. By now I wanted to throw the accursed object across the room. ‘Turn it off’, suggested my wife. ‘Let it settle down and try again in the morning.’
I began to panic. Turn it off? What was she thinking? What if I woke in the night and needed to read some news sites? Or my interlinear Bible? How can I manage a whole night? Nor would just turning it off resolve anything. Like a cupboard with festering food, it would still be there, haunting my consciousness. If my phone was having a 2001-‘Dave, I can’t do that’ moment (and I am not called Dave by the way, unlike most people I know), then we needed to get a grip on this here and now.
Emotionally, it was almost as bad as if my wife had told me to calm down.
I got a laptop and started googling, which took a while. I was led to a YouTube video which meant I had to watch an advertisment about taking a holiday. Then someone with an incomprehensible accent did complicated things on a phone that didn’t look much like my own. Hopeless and ridiculous.
Finally. I read that if you press both volume buttons down at once, the phone switches into Talkback mode. It’s an ‘accessibility’ feature. Quite.
But pressing both volume buttons down again makes it all alright. The crazed leering voice departs; the nightmare ends; the phone returns to its compliant, usable self; I could go to bed. Dystopia had summoned me with its bony curling finger; fortunately, this time, I pushed back.
But it was close.