Proud of My Dumb Phone

A week or so ago while I was on my break at work one of my friends that also works in the MU came and talked with me for a bit while I ate my lunch. At some point in the conversation I must have answered a text or checked the time on my phone because a few minutes after she left I received a message from her saying “props for not having a smart phone btw”. When I received the message I was a bit confused at first as to why she cared that I didn’t have an iPhone or phone of its caliber so I asked her to clarify. She simply answered “everyone has an iPhone but you don’t, and I think that’s something to be proud of”.

After I thought about it for a while I realized that not having an iPhone really was something to be proud of. A few months back I dropped my phone in a swimming pool and went down to the Verizon store to look at new ones and almost talked myself into purchasing a brand new iPhone 4S until I realized that I didn’t need one in the slightest. iPhones and other smart phones are wonderful and powerful machines that can do thousands of beautiful things right from the palm of your hand and in that respect should be admired and appreciated. However throughout the course of the day during the school week I have somewhere between 1-2 hours of time not spent biking, walking, working, listening to a lecture or doing homework. My point is that most of my time is spent doing semi=productive things and being able to check my Facebook or upload photos to Instagram at any moment would become way to distracting for me to get anything done, not to mention the sheer price tag that an iPhone carries or the money you have to pay for a service plan on top of that. Plus, before the school year even started I bought myself a MacBook which a) has all the capabilities of an iPhone and b) I carry around everywhere anyway, leaving an iPhone next to useless to me. Even beyond those points, does anyone really need to be connected to the internet at all times of the day? There’s something to be said for being able to function without checking for notifications every five minutes. 

My phone may not be the most glamorous looking thing in the world but it does what I need it to do, and I fill in the rest of the blanks with the rest of what I have. I sit here with my dumb thirty dollar phone that can only send texts and receive calls, and I’m proud. 

Do you really need your iPhone? How would life be functioning without it for a week? A month? Does it do you more favors than it does harm? Let me hear your thoughts!

Give me back my iPhone, Grandpa!

Also, get off Facebook and don’t say LOL, ’cause you’re old and old people just shouldn’t.

More and more recently, that old man meme about how Grandpa can’t understand iPhones, Linux, or the cloud is showing up more and more often. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols of computerworld claims that the joke is becoming “increasingly irrelevant.”

The article, Grandpa the programmer, argues that older people (baby boomers) are just as competent in using new technology as are us younger folks. I know I’m asking you think way back to the beginning of the semester, and I know how hard that might be, but bare with me please. We spent more than one class discussing the notions of technology immigrants and technology natives, where we labeled those people born into the Digital Age the natives and those who have, at a later point in their lives, adopted new technologies the digital immigrants. If I remember correctly, we (yes, me too) argued that it was practically infeasible for technology immigrants to adapt to the Digital Age environment entirely. Now, jump to the reading for this week (if you read it). In chapter one, Norman argues, to some extent, that digital immigrants have a hard time adapting to new technologies. He gives several charming anecdotes regarding this idea that when new, more intricate gadgets come to the market, people, particularly older people not accustomed to the maturation of technology, just don’t know how to work them! These seemingly true stories magnify Norman’s persuasion and credibility. I mean, I totally want to believe him that the maturation of technology is growing at a speed that digital immigrants just cannot keep up with, right?

But now, we have Vaughan-Nichols writing in plain contrast to this idea that has been brought up time and time again. I think we were so into telling our own stories about our own grandmothers and grandfathers not knowing what to do with an iPad that we didn’t even think about the age of the creator of the iPad. Apple is seemingly the leader in producing brand new, state of the art technologies — probably the most popular gadgets that old people can’t figure out. But the CEO of Apple, is no spring chicken! He’s plenty old enough to be a grandfather and he must understand technology in order to develop such innovative ideas and successfully bring them to the market.

I understand that Vaughan-Nichols is talking a lot regarding the actual creation of the code, and that’s much different than just adapting to a tangible product. But didn’t we say last week that older people were more about Facebook because they didn’t have the time or the skill for all the HTML included in Myspace?

I’m not going back on my argument that it’s more difficult for people not born into the Digital Age to pick up a brand new gadget — mostly because my grandma asked me where the keypad was on my phone at dinner last Sunday and because my mom continually asks me for the meaning of those stupid text message abbreviations. But I think it’s super interesting to think about the creators of these technologies that us young kids are infatuated with. They could be my grandfather!

What do you think? Does the baby boomer generation understand technology and all it has to offer? Or were you right saying that they cannot ever entirely grasp new gadgets?

Put Your Damn Phone Away and Enjoy the Show

In this day and age there’s no escaping technology, it follows us everywhere we go and is an enormous part of what we do on a day to day basis. The extent to which we use our technology is more invasive and infiltrating than one might think, as we don’t often realize that we’re using our phones and other devices when we should really be putting them away and enjoying the moment. Technology robs us of the ability to live in the moment, to enjoy what’s going on around you as it’s happening and to take it in as memory in your head instead of on a hard drive. 

The way we think about going out to any sort of event has changed since the infusion of mobile devices and social networking into our every day lives. We can’t just enjoy the night any more, we have to fully document it so we can enjoy it later. To start of the whole process, instead of just leaving the house and getting on with one’s life you run to Facebook and make sure that you post about what you;re about to go do, tag all our friends that are attending with you and the exact location where all this will be taking place. You know, because it won’t be any fun if know one knows about it, right? 

Next, we get out and go to the event, say a concert in this case. Once we’re there pictures have to be taken before, during, and after the performance so that we can look at how we felt afterwards and relive the memories. During the show you live-tweet whenever the next song starts, sharing your opinion of the performance with the general public. Not to mention that during your favorite song you have to pull out your iPhone and make sure to take video of it, making sure that you don’t move the camera in the wrong direction so you can’t see the singer. When all is said and done, you head home and post on Facebook again about how great the night was and retag all your friends so they can remember to. 

Looking back on the night you might have the pictures and the status updates, but where are the memories? All the time spent trying to capture that moment could have been spent living in it, not worrying about documenting it so that everyone can see. Personally, I think there’s a lot more value in being able to actually remember those moments than being able to look at pictures and video of them. there’s nothing quite like being there, living in the moment and taking in all the energy and emotion of an event. that memory of when your favorite band starts to play the first notes of your favorite song causes chills to go down your spine and the hair on the back of your neck to stand up . It’s almost like reliving it all, knowing that you were there in person soaking it all up. Looking back at video that you shot is no different than looking at video one of your friends or a total stranger shot on youtube. It’s just not the same, the emotional attachment just isn’t as glorious or breathtaking anymore. Technology robs us of those feelings so for your own sake, put your damn phone away. 

(P.S. I’m currently headed off to see Public Image Ltd. at the Marquee. Guess who’s phone will be safely in his pocket?)

Apple users are smarter, more attractive, and make more money

According to a report from Nielsen/NetRatings, Mac users are better educated and make more money than PC-users. If you disagree, you’re likely unintelligent and unattractive (according to a report from me).

In fact, certain cultural commentators (aka this random guy from my online Poli-Sci course) such as Ryan Rivera have even claimed that possession of an Apple product increases one’s sexual desirability:

However, why exactly do we buy Apple? Is it because Apple makes us smart and sexy? Or is it simply because Apple has become a status symbol in today’s culture?

Examples like ‘phone on the table’ students and wannabe iPhone users (see cartoon) are two examples of how Apple has obtained a cult-like following.

In fact, the cultural phenomenon is to the point where people can’t even justify their own rationale behind buying new Apple products. See Neil Katz’s response to the iPhone 5.

Katz is a longtime Apple supporter who has “bought just about everything Apple’s made since the Apple II Plus came out in 1979.”

He announced to the world that he would “probably be standing on line [sic] with millions of other Americans buying an iPhone 5. Only this time, I won’t really know why.”

Given that buying Apple seems to be the default option when it comes to getting a new phone or a new laptop, have we been culturally conditioned into preferring Apple?

What are your thoughts? Is Apple a status symbol? Is it perhaps something more? Or perhaps this dialogue is overblown and you’d simply prefer a good laugh. Look no further than “Sh*t Apple Fans Say”: