I did not receive my first cell phone until I was 14 years old, and began attending high school about 15 minutes from home, in Lodi, about fifteen miles north of Stockton. I had a small Nokia phone that I played Snake on almost obsessively, that was through MetroPCS and theoretically should have stayed the same price with unlimited minutes and text messages. After having to switch phones with my mom to go on trips and the bill going higher and higher, my mom added me to our Verizon plan and there I stayed for nine years.
I remember when my mom and I got our first smartphones. My phone’s contract was up, and I was on a phone I had bought from eBay because I had wanted a new one. We perused the Verizon booth in the Weberstown mall, and laid eyes on the brand-new, very first Motorola Droid. You turned the phone on, and it said “Droid” in a robotic voice, and had a touch screen, and did all sorts of fun things. My mom and I both ended up getting one. Two years later, it seemed that almost everyone had upgraded to an iPhone, including my mom. I had to have my Droid replaced (read, switched with my mom’s) because its screen had cracked, and then lived with the new-old one for about a year, as the operating system grew slower and slower, and less and less responsive. Finally, as an early Christmas gift to me, my mom agreed to buy me an iPhone 4S, since my contract was about to expire.
It’s amazing going from not an iPhone to an iPhone. I’ve never looked back. It just works, it’s never slow, never unresponsive. It just does what I tell it to. It holds books, music, photos, and every kind of information I can possibly think of. Before I begin to come in danger of sounding like an ad for iPhone, let me get to my point: What is it about the iPhone that those of us who own it are in some kind of admiration or awe of it? It is our constant companion, staying with us at all times, and doing all we ask at the click of a button, or a spoken command to Siri.
A couple of weeks ago, I dropped my iPhone coming out of my apartment. I had a cheap bumper case on it since I’d owned it, and the only time that I dropped it and damage had occurred was before I had the case and it fell out of my locker when I was still working at JCPenney. It had barely suffered any damage, even falling from more than 5 feet, simply taking a small chip out of the plastic near the charging port, so small it was nearly imperceptible. This time, however, it fell at exactly the right angle on the asphalt, and as I picked it up from where it was lying face-down on the ground, I stared in horror at the spiderweb of cracks stemming from the earpiece down the entire screen. I tried turning the screen on and met only with an unlit blackness. I silently (and not so silently) chastised myself for not putting it in my pocket, for not having a better case on it, for not doing something to prevent this horrible scenario. I had been heading to Josh’s, and as soon as I walked in the door, began to cry and told him I felt stupid for crying about it, and forlornly showed him the broken screen. After grim calls to Verizon and to the Apple store, I ended up being able to have it replaced later in the day, in less than ten minutes at the Apple store in Santa Rosa, and immediately when I got home ordered a Otterbox case for it.
The thing that surprised me was how much breaking my iPhone emotionally affected me. It seemed stupid to feel so invested in it, especially when the replacement process was essentially pretty easy (The only hard part was switching my WoW authenticator to the new phone, which even then didn’t end up being difficult). How could something as simple as breaking my iPhone affect my entire day so completely?
As I told Josh that day, there’s a lot of technology in my life that constantly has problems. My work phone is notoriously complained about, and often has issues, my work computer is running Windows Vista and is notoriously slow at handling my multiple browser tab and Excel spreadsheet work habits, my laptop takes forever to connect to the internet and sometimes has blue screens of death if I leave it on for too many days and it runs out of memory, I work on an ancient Mac computer with Adobe InDesign CS1 at my other job, which immensely slows down my workflow. The list could go on. It seemed that my iPhone was the only trusty one, the only one that kept up with my busy schedule and work pace, and that security shattered with the screen on that day.
Now, as I sit here with my iPhone securely nestled in its new Otterbox case, I still wonder if it’s worth it to put so much value on something as simple as what is essentially a cell phone. It is no doubt a prevalent part of our culture and I know many people feel the same way about theirs as I do about mine.
(Loosely inspired by The Daily Prompt 2/5/13)
Do you own an iPhone? Do you feel strongly about yours in one way or the other? Is it like a personal assistant or just what it is: a cell phone? Let me know in the comments.