I got an iPhone for Christmas.
There, I’ve gotten that out of the way. For all the soul-searching and soul-baring I have done on this blog, I have never been more embarrassed to write something.
Having an iPhone means I have resources. It means I seek convenience. It means I can’t make do with what I have.
Or so I think. It might just be that I like the phone.
I grew up on what I like to call “the house that technology forgot“. We lived on the edge of our cute little suburb on a huge isolated patch of land, my parents didn’t drive the right cars and we didn’t take the right vacations. I’m not embarrassed of that, or of them. I never was. But in school we all have to have something that makes us feel isolated, right? For me it was that.
So I went to a school where they didn’t take the smartest or the hardest working kids, they took the coolest, or so I thought. Everyone had such easy manners, everyone was so well dressed. They lived in a world of J. Crew and Tiffany bracelets. I didn’t know what either of those were. When I think of my friends, none of them ever excluded me. But in college we all need something to make us feel excluded, right? For me it was that.
(and because like all of us I cling to insult, allow me to admit that i will never forget the look on the face of my neighbor’s mom our freshman year, when I turned around after she looked me up and down. I will never forget that uptight, plastic, affluent, condemning face.)
So that is who I became. The person who did without new things. The one who lived with less. I avoided the trendy. I used a $15 phone. I didn’t own a computer. I drove a junky old car. I lived in a tiny, dilapidated apartment. I saved money, for sure. I kept myself from getting attached to possessions. But part of it became a compulsion. If I got something new or trendy or expensive then I would become the doctors’ daughters in my hometown who knew how to dress. I would become the lawyers’ sons who went skiing. In my hate and envy I had made myself into their opposite. Any luxury would be a concession.
The iPhone works for me. It is convenient and easy and maybe even necessary for a freelancer who is all over the place, like me. So I use it. I love it, even. Whether I continue to feel like an imposter or if I am free enough to accept who I am remains to be seen.
It is a thing, yes, but many of the best parts of me were nurtured by sci-fi, so it is a thing that is a testament to humanity’s ingenuity and to our constant evolution, and we in particular don’t deserve it, but how thrilling to be a part of our emerging future as a species. For me, part of using this phone is imagining what it will be in 5 or 10 or 50 years, and imagining where the human race will be, and celebrating what is best about us (even as I see that the iPhone also represents some of the worse parts of us). If that helps.
Wow. Because I am a Luddite none of those thoughts would ever have occurred to me in a million years. Thank goodness for you, for that and a million other reasons.
Hope V says
For whatever it’s worth, I bought an IPAD a couple months ago. I squirmed for months because I just couldn’t imagine the idea of spending the money or of being one of “those people” walking around whipping out their little gadget. Finally I acknowledged that my sanity at work depended on a more mobile office, so I took the plunge. I definitely use it, but I don’t think it has become a central feature of my life. It’s a tool; the unspoken multitude of fears I had about what it would make me become turned out not to be a result of happening to own a particular product. I guess maybe it’s the difference between it owning me or me owning it.
Anyway, until now, I’ve cringed when required to admit that I’ve succumbed to this trendy technology, so thanks for bringing something to the surface that I could reflect upon in my own life.
I think there’s another aspect to this that I’m sure you understand – how those of us in “justicey” circles reconcile luxury to our beliefs and our history. Part of me is thinking “what would that family I built a house for in the barrio think???” when they truth is they would probably just ask to play around with it.
It’s funny how our society somehow freaks us out if we’re one of “those” types of people, those types, of course, always identifiable by their accoutrements. We can’t be one of “them” because then we won’t be one of “us.” If we adopt one of “their” tools or are found listening to one of “their” musicians we will summarily be judged to be one of “them.” How do we know that will happen? Hmm….I wonder.
Anyone who does judge us based on what tools/accessories/toys we use at any given time…is that the “us” with which we really want to be associated?
Maybe if I didn’t have so much built up animosity toward “them”, it would matter that they become my new “us”.
Welcome!!! I loved my ipad so much that I bought the iphone and now I type this to you on my new mac!!
You’re a true believer, I see. Thanks for reading!
Joy @ Joy In This Journey says
Love this post. I just sold my smart phone because it wasn’t smart enough (replaced 4 times by the warranty) and I’m trying to make do on a regular cell phone. But I’m a freelancer too, and I’m realizing that not having access to my email when I’m out and about may be a bigger problem than I thought. We’ll see. I’m trying to hold out for another year, til the end of my current contract, and then I’m planning to join the ranks of the iPhone users. I too have a love/hate relationship with gadgets. I LOVE what they allow us to do (and I’m a tech-geek, so I confess that I get a little giddy about them). I hate the cost when I know how far that money could go elsewhere.
It got tougher and tougher for me not to have a smartphone, because now the expectation is that everyone has one. Although I took a certain amount of iconoclasts pleasure in explaining that I didn’t, at a point I got tired of sounding like my dad.
Who can offer a good source of ready tab bar icons for my iOS apps?
I make an apps for medicine for iPhone