I have a confession to make. When I take you into my confidence, I know I risk dropping several points in your estimation of me. You may no longer regard me as one of the “cool” people. (Is it still cool to be regarded as a “cool” person?)
But I like to believe that the relationship we have built over the years is solid enough not to crumble when I reveal to you that I am not now, and never have been, the owner of an iPhone.
Or any other smart phone for that matter.
So you can understand that I greeted the arrival of the iPhone 6, and its big brother, the 6 plus, with a general lack of enthusiasm. In fact, my lack of enthusiasm has grown incrementally with each new rendition of this device.
I have to admit that, in general, I’m not much of a phone person. The telephone, in all of its incarnations, remains a convenient nuisance. I think it outlived its charm for me when I could no longer listen to other people’s conversations on our party line.
I love interacting with people, but not on the phone. A perfect day is making three obligatory phone calls and having no one be home. Then I can simply leave my message and hang up. I feel like I hit a trifecta!
I’m not a complete reactionary. I do own a cell phone. I actually know how to use it. It takes pictures. I’ve even made a concession to texting. But that’s been my line in the sand.
They say this new iPhone is larger, thinner, more powerful, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. So why do I remain a holdout?
I fear its hook. I’ve seen what these smart phones can do, how they gradually pull you in until you become addicted. It becomes the single most important appliance that you own, even more important than the coffee maker, and eventually you can’t live without it.
It lures you into giving it more and more responsibility, and so it becomes as indispensable as a body part.
You can never put it aside for too long, because it calls to you. It rings, buzzes, chirps, sings and requires an instantaneous response, possibly even during sex. Oh, you can try to fool it by turning it off, but too much lack of contact makes you jumpy. So instead of reaching for a post-coital cigarette, you reach for it.
I don’t disparage all electronic advances. I actually rely a great deal on my computer. It’s a desk top, with a large screen and a keyboard. Sometimes hours go by before I realize how long I’ve been sitting and staring at the screen.
But when I’m ready, I turn it off and walk away. I like walking away.
I leave behind my e-mails, my Google searches, my bookkeeping, my writing, and whatever else has made another day go by. And it’s a relief that I can’t pick it up and take it with me.
Some people are astonished when they learn that I don’t own a smart phone. They act as if I’m still communicating with smoke signals.
My friends continue to chide me, and shake their heads in disbelief at my attitude. But I have yet to recognize an unmet need that can only be satisfied by an iPhone. Although I’m sure if I had one, the phone would quickly demonstrate all the unmet needs I had no idea I possessed.
I had a conversation the other day with one particular friend who has made it her current mission to convince me that I don’t know what I’m missing. “Once you have it, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.” She tells me about all the wonderful apps she has, and how convenient her life has become.
She is talking to me and moving her touch screen. And I find myself communicating with the top of her head. Uh oh, I think. Watch out for the dog poop.
Of course, I don’t say this out loud. She would have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s probably for the best.
I try to tell her that for all its virtues, the smart phone creates an exclusive dependency.
“What dependency?” she counters. “I can quit whenever I want to. “
So I pose this hypothetical to my friend who needs two hours to get ready each day because she blow-dries her long tresses to perfection.
“What if you had to pack up in a hurry, and could take only one appliance with you. Would you take your iPhone or your hairdryer?”
She thinks for thirty seconds, then responds.
“My iPhone,” she says.
“There, you see!” I reply smugly.
Then I pose another example.
“OK, what if you had to choose between your iPhone and your vibrator?”
She pauses for forty-five seconds before she answers this time.
“I’d still take my iPhone,” she says. As for the other, there’s probably an app for that!”