Three weeks ago, I got my first ever smart phone — an iPhone 5c to be exact. Everyone has asked me the exact same question:
“Do you LOVE it???”
Now let’s explore the reasons why that is totally nutty. First off, that everyone should ask the same question. And we’re talking straight up, Groundhog’s Day, do-I-hear-an-echo, same wording every time. “Do you LOVE it,” with the slantwise emphasis on the word love like we’re third graders talking about our crushes. It feels like a deleted scene from that terrible Nicole Kidman Stepford Wives reboot where everyone tells me what I should love in the form of a question and then spews a hundred dollars out of their collective mouths — did anyone else think that movie was the worst?????
Second, that the assumption is that I should love it. Not find it useful or helpful or functional or good, but do I LOVE it. To which my internal response is BITCH, THIS IS A PHONE. IT IS NOT ADAM SCOTT’S FACE, IT IS NOT PANTS THAT MAKE MY LEGS LOOK REGULAR, AND IT IS NOT A WELL FILLED EXCLUSIVELY WITH CHEESE DANISH, AND THOSE ARE THE THINGS FOR WHICH I RESERVE THE TERM “LOVE.” And to which my external response is “uhm, it works like a functional phone. So that’s a pretty big step up for me.”
The last totally bonkers part of all of this is that this is something worth talking about. This is a totally acceptable, even exciting discussion. DO YOU LOVE YOUR NEW PHONE. Can we scrutinize that for a second? This isn’t even small talk. Friends and family are vicariously excited for me, have all consistently told me that my life is going to change dramatically. Guys, I’m not joining the navy. I got a phone with instagram.
So I guess it’s time for me to see what all the excitement’s about.
I was a long-time hold out on the smart phone front (obviously). There were a lot of very high ideals involved, and more than a few of my friends have heard me rant about not wanting to be a zombie with a touch screen, wanting to engage with the world in a real way, wanting to keep the art of the in-person conversation alive and well. But then I got to a point where my phone was so old and so shitty that it went through occasional day-long periods wherein it refused to send or receive calls or texts. Which is literally the only thing a phone has to do. It also got into the habit of turning itself off at random moments, six of the buttons on the keypad stopped working almost entirely, and about 60% of the time I tried to send a text, it sent a blank one first as though I were sending out a town crier ahead of me to alert the person I was about to text that a message was forthcoming. It was time for a change.
So I plunged. Goodbye interpersonal values! iPhone 5-Cheap, ahoy!
For someone who grew up on the line between the digital natives and that generation right before digital natives who are still pretty good at Twitter, I’m surprisingly horrible at having a smart phone. I’m just saying, the learning curve has been steep. Two days into iPhone ownership, friends of mine were shocked and dismayed that I had yet to start an instagram account. Honkey, I can hardly type on this touch screen. But I persevered, and I learned. I connected my iPhone to my Twitter, assuming I’d finally have an outlet for all the hilarious things I think of on the bus. I got an instagram, and even posted a picture of some corn because it was the closest object to where I was sitting.
A week-in my roommate made fun of me for scrolling “like an old lady.” Every time I used any touch screen component I swept my hand across the phone with such dramatic flourish that anyone within a two foot radius was likely to get slapped. I used the keypad with only one index finger, like someone’s weird aunt. I spelled words wrong because of my sausage fingers, turning “house” into “bhyoise,” and let autocorrect walk all over me, turning “effed” into “egged,” which in context is very different.
People kept asking. “Do you LOVE it???” And I kept waiting for my life to change.
I can finally hear people on the other end of the line, which probably means my boyfriend and I will get into about 90% fewer fights. Or 90% more. I’ve learned to use SnapChat, which I was sure was just for sexting among tweens but it turns out it’s an even better medium for sending your adult friends extreme closeups of your face with captions like “WHEN YOU LOOK INTO THE ABYSS THE ABYSS ALSO LOOKS INTO YOU,” and then it disappears and it’s gone forever. I have not downloaded Facebook because I want to preserve my humanity etc etc etc.
Emojis were their own thing. Emojis are great. Fight me.
What it boils down to is that my life is not different. Now when I’m at the bus stop I check my instagram briefly instead of pretending to clean out my defunct text inbox. I still talk to humans. I still read books. I don’t play Angry Birds and I never plan to. I use emojis like a motherfucker and there’s no looking back.
The biggest thing that’s changed is the influx of people talking to me about my phone. About my huge life change, as though I’m going through puberty. Telling me that everything is different for me, that I’ve joined a new millenium, that I can’t imagine how I lived without it before, right? Telling me that I love it, don’t I?