In Defense of an iPhone

I was tempted to open with something like, “I don’t need to justify myself to the internet” –and then I realized, I do. If more people were forced to justify their actions, to actually articulate their reasoning, I expect that we-the-people would be making kinder, wiser, more responsible decisions. Heck, democracy might even work.

Thus, I bring you:

The iPhone: A Justification

I realize that I’ve railed on technology in the past, but I hope I’ve been able to convey that I’m no luddite. Clearly, or else I’d be writing letters to all my correspondents instead of posting on a blog.

Anyways, I got an iPhone a few weeks ago. I wasn’t looking for a new phone, but my phone plan with Verizon was expiring and my brother was switching to an AT&T family plan and needed another family member to sign up with him. So I did, and was informed that I would need to purchase a new phone. I bit my tongue at the ridiculousness of having to  buy a new phone when my old one worked perfectly well, but, knowing that I can’t change the policies, began the AT&T phone search. Which apparently is almost exactly the same as any other phone search, except that the phones are hardwired for AT&T and have slightly different cologne-y sounding names, like “Incite” and “Eternity.”

My brother was getting the new iPhone 3G S. He saved up his money, was prepared to pay the data plan, and I wasn’t planning to pass judgment. Besides, he’s my blood, which should provide him with some protection from my cultural ranting.

"iPhone Party" by Nobihaya on Flickr

"iPhone Party" by Nobihaya on Flickr

But just to be clear: I hate iPhone users. I hate those girls that walk across campus with blinders on, staring intently at their palm, not hearing their friends calling because they’re wearing earbuds. I hate that kid sitting next to me in class, texting under the table, looking like he’s touching himself for the duration of the lecture. Hell, you could save yourself the $50,000 tuition and text at home, son.

Maybe “hate” is a strong word. Let’s say, “passionately without respect [for said individuals]”

One of the less enjoyable aspects of my art class last semester was that everybody brought their headphones and spent all of class listening to music. I was the only one without, and basically worked in silence. Normally, an art class is a great atmosphere to make new friends, have conversations, general human contact. etc. Well, I certainly bonded with my professor, I suppose…

So you see why I spent several hours in Best Buy, muttering to my shopping companion: “but I don’t want to be one of those girls. I can’t be one of those girls!”

At some point, I had a flashback to last semester (not the art class; this was a new one). I remembered having to lug my laptop around with me everywhere I went, in case I needed to check an email. My neck was stiff, my backpack was bulky, and I couldn’t spontaneously do cartwheels on the grass. So I thought, “alright. Maybe it would be healthy to be able to check my email on the go.”

But I contend that there is a line when it comes to cell phones. And when an individual (most likely between the ages of 15 and 25) says “I need an iPhone [or Blackberry],” we should take a minute to really think about what she/he means. At no point does an individual need an iPhone. It doesn’t produce clean drinking water, or bake muffins, or inject insulin. Circumstances, however, may actually require that level of technology. As an example: I’m the President of two student organizations and a member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee; I sit for Kenyon’s environmental council, and meet regularly with administrators and staff regarding sustainability policy. I work two campus jobs. I’m a Discrimination Advisor. I’m working towards an Honors degree. (Hey, I’m making up for slacking off in high school, alright?)

Basically, a work load like that requires type-A personality organization (or, for me, an awkward imitation of a type-A personality), and, for an internet-dependent campus like Kenyon, it requires absurdly frequent access to email. I’ve given up trying to change the system (though I do think that Kenyon graduates must be the most digitally-stimulated yuppies in the country) and realized that I’ve got to find a healthy way to deal with the system. Or, um, the System.

So, on one level: Yes, I could have a regular cell phone. But it would certainly be more stressful during the school year, and the neck aches would probably continue. Plus, there’s no running through the grass with a heavy backpack.

A Manifesto, of Sorts

It’s only because I’m involved in real life that having an iPhone is a benefit. I refuse, at any point, to forsake reality for a digital imitation. I will not stop a conversation to answer a text. I will not browse Safari on the train when I have a book in my bag. I will not listen to music when I’m walking to class.

I may, however, do a cartwheel.

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