At some point, it became important to keep in touch. At some point, as crucial as it felt to get out of the house, wander around for errands and or just to wander, it was just as crucial that I could be reached. Tumors had invaded. You know.
I’d take off for a nice long walk, then, with my iPod in my pocket just in case I needed distraction music, and my cell phone in the other pocket, just in case I was needed. And thus we had two devices to start with.
(I could put music on that ancient cell phone, but it was awkward. The whole point of an iPod was that it wasn’t awkward.)
As anyone over 25 or so remembers, there was a dark, primitive era in which we were unconnected. If we went to the store for milk, there was no way to tell us to pick up bread, too. And email had to wait until we got back home.
I’m sure there’s a catchy economic term for this, although I just think of it as compulsory consumption. For most of us, I imagine, once we tried a cell phone there was no going back. Unless it was to retrieve our phones.
And then there was the day I wanted to take pictures, lots of them, a big event, and so I packed up my digital still camera and my pocket-sized high-def video camera, and being me I never thought about battery life, which for both was pretty much nonexistent. On top of the bulk, my devices had failed me because there were too many things to consider for my slow-ish brain. I dreamed of one little device that would be my electronic Swiss knife.
It turned out somebody else had that dream, and had actually built the damn thing. So after a few years of resisting, feeling that a smartphone was overkill, unnecessary for my homebound life, I got an iPhone. It changed my life.
Well, I mean. It did. Little changes, but I liked them. It motivated me to exercise because handy apps let me track my progress. I could let GPS map my walking routes as I went, listening to tunes and podcasts, and if I saw a pretty flower I could stop and snap. If I slipped and fell into a ditch, my wife would eventually notice my lack of returning and check her iPhone to track my location, while I took high-definition videos of the clouds passing overhead and recorded my final thoughts. Or maybe just watched an episode of “Arrested Development” on Netflix.
So I constructed a necessity out of historical thin air, considering that I survived half a century without an iPhone and now I have no idea how. I’m not proud of it.
On the less-pathetic side, I had no interest in upgrading, swapping out for the latest model. If you know your iPhones, I got the 4 back in 2011. A few months later, the 4s arrived (with Siri). A year after that, it was the iPhone 5, claimed by some to be the mold-breaker: No smartphone could possibly be any better, or smarter for that matter, and still I was, like, yawn. My phone is fine.
It was getting a little beat up, though, to the point that I had to wrap rubber bands around it to charge the battery (pocket lint in the charge port that I never quite got out), along with some sluggishness and nicks in the finish. You know how it is. Things wear down.
And even then I was content, not particularly interested or excited about the new iteration that Apple rolls out, rain or shine, every September, until I learned two things: Apple (and Verizon, my carrier) would now bypass Craigslist and buy your old still-solid-value iPhone, and the new model had a fingerprint sensor that appeared to actually work.
My paranoia being alive and well, having read way too much, I protected my phone and its data with a very long PIN/password, but I’m at home a lot and it’s a hassle to type that in every time I want to log some calories or leave myself a note, so I usually left it unlocked and hoped I’d remember to lock it before I left the house, which almost never happened, and here at last was the answer. My phone would always be easily accessible to me, but me only. Suck on that, phone thieves.
I’ve never done this, set my alarm so I could be at the store first thing in the morning, wait in line, hope the model I wanted was still available, but there’s a first time for everything. It was actually easy, only an hour or so of my time, and with my phone trade-in I got a brand-new slice of mobile technology for $100, which felt like a good deal. The fingerprint scanner works exactly as advertised, the new chipset makes for a much faster response, and 4G? Nice. Fast. Doesn’t come up much, but nice when it does.
But there are starving people in this world, dammit, and the price I pay for indulging high tech is always going to be guilt, mine or someone’s projection, and sure enough I got it yesterday. That’s another story, maybe I’ll tell it, but let me just say that if the future of the United States is fascist, it might be my fault.