By Jessica Plhak
About a year ago, I sold my soul to Apple and bought an iPhone. I’m not sure why exactly, but I suspect that Steve Jobs had been bombarding the public with subliminal messaging in Apple’s seemingly innocuous advertising campaigns. Hidden in those harmless ads with cool Mac representative Justin Long and his geeky PC companion were Satan’s marketing gurus, chanting “Buy! Buy! Buy!”. This is my most reasonable explanation for the uncontrollable lust I felt for a piece of technology that is only slightly smaller than a pocket map book.
I remember the day that I found out that Apple was releasing the iPhone in Canada. After never wanting a smart phone before, I could barely think about eating, sleeping, and my day-to-day commitments. I wanted that phone more than I wanted to breathe. It was like the falling in love with the perfect man from a magazine advertisement who claimed to be able to organize my life, entertain me, and evolve with me as I customized him with endless clever applications. With one touch, he would tell me what song was playing on the radio. With another, he would tell me what the best route to the office was. With another stroke he would feed me my email. He would serenade me with my favourite music and recommend the best restaurants. All this while presenting himself in a sleek and sexy package that could fit in my pocket.
Suddenly all I could think about was owning one. I was convinced that the iPhone would solve all the minor annoyances in my life and complete me in the way that nothing else could. The iPhone would be an extension of my very soul and being..
I was obsessed.
It was so bad that I even took the release date off work to line up with the masses in the hopes of obtaining one of these rare technological unicorns. I see now how sad my predicament was. I was hopelessly in love with something that I knew next to nothing about, and would never love me back. It was the worst kind of love affair, destined for heartbreak.
As fate would have it, I didn’t get my iPhone that day. After three hours of standing in line only two people had left the store with smiles on their faces and glossy little Apple-issued boxes in their hands, I left… dejected.
A couple of weeks later I bought the phone. I signed up for another three years with my provider, “upgraded” my plan so it would work with my new phone’s oppressive needs, and forked over a couple hundred bucks to be one of the first kids on the block with a new toy.
After a few short months, I realized how much of a sucker I was. The novelty of the phone’s features and gimmicks were eclipsed by the realization that it was costing me way more than it was giving me. Some months, my phone bills were half what my new car was costing me (insurance included). And although the phone enabled me access to a world of information in seconds, it was not nearly as useful as reliable transportation.
But still: I pay. And sadly, although I now loathe my electronic leash, I can’t imagine life without it.
I remember the days of my childhood. I remember days when answering machines were a novelty. Days when your house phone would ring endlessly and lonely in your absence. Days where you had to make plans with people in advance because if you didn’t catch them at home, you’d have to keep calling back. I remember the transition to touch-tone, cordless, and the first cellular phones. My father had one of these electronic beasts in his car. The phone was the size of a small suitcase, weighed almost as much as a dog, and only worked when it was in the car. I remember it being kind of a big deal, compete with bragging rights.
Decades later, if I suddenly wonder what the weather is like in Tokyo while riding the subway I know in less than 30 seconds. I can win an argument in moments. I can send an email while laying on the beach in Aruba. I can receive a text while standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I can submit a progress report or mission statement while rafting down a river in the wilderness. There are even add-on applications that would allow me to track where my friends are, or allow them to track me.
Although it’s great that everyone is now totally accessible at any time of day, there are also obvious drawbacks. Namely, that everyone is now totally accessible at any time of day. Gone are the days of missed calls, of going to the grocery store to buy three lemons without being called by the office, of looking up the information that you need in books, of planning your life in advance, and of enjoying a peaceful vacation away from your everyday life.
And despite all this… I love the phone. It’s often the first thing I reach for in the morning, and the last thing I touch before I sleep. In fact, in the wake of the release of the new generation of iPhone, I researched how it greatly surpasses my own “dinosaur” of a phone and succumbed to unbelievable pressure. Knowing that I couldn’t afford the upgrade, I rationalized the expense even though there is no rational need. I’m embarrassed that in six months my new behemoth of a phone will be obsolete, just like its predecessor, and I will be forced once again to confront my own terrible weakness and purchase another piece of over-priced technology is. .
Dear Apple, I am your filthy plaything.