Howard and I took on technology and relationships in this week’s Perpetual Post. Read his side too, it’s fantastic.
As I type this, my boyfriend is on the couch, napping blissfully, his Blackberry nestled to his chest. I remember the distant days when I was the one who nestled there, my head resting lovingly against his shoulder, but apparently because I don’t vibrate like a buzz saw every ten minutes to let him know that he’s gotten an email from Sears.com with great deals for Fall savings, he’s traded up.
I remember when it was my shrill, piercing voice that delighted him, but no more. I’ve lost my favored status, displaced by a small, rectangular device that beeps incessantly at the most inopportune times—most of which are apparently no longer inopportune! God help me if I should turn to him while he’s engrossed in an episode of Two and a Half Men and say, “I forgot to tell you about this lady I saw in the Food Lion today who was wearing hilarious pants”—I would be judiciously shushed! But Blackberry gets to say whatever it’s thinking any time it wants! Blackberry can do no wrong! No matter what he’s in the middle of, no moment is too important to be interrupted by a text message from his Blackberry letting him know that 90% of American currency has tested positive for trace amounts of cocaine, according to CNN.com.
Should I be providing better content? Were I to turn to him while he’s watching TV and say, “MEEEP Thursday’s forecast calls for morning clouds with a chance of afternoon thundershowers,” would he smile receptively, or nod with interest? I doubt it. I also don’t see what’s so useful about the real-time updates his Blackberry provides on sports games and breaking news, when the information I provide is also in real-time—and personalized! Does his precious Blackberry nag him when he forgets to give the dog his heartworm medicine? Does it remind him that it’s unattractive to drink soda straight from the bottle and then just put it back in the fridge? Does his Blackberry’s angry rattle encourage him to start dinner right away because I’m going to be hungry when I get home?
All right, I know when I’m beat. It’s time for me to take this to the next level, before he realizes that when his Blackberry never has morning breath, steals the covers, or mocks his love of Entourage. So what do I have to do to win him back? Offer my services for a better monthly rate? Remind him of the convenience of his no-initial-fee, no-obligation contract with me? Ok, maybe there was an initial fee to join me, but I’m sure he’d say it was worth it. Or would he? After all, I can’t think of any new features I’ve added in the last few years, aside from a new haircut, or any upgrades to speak of—unless you count going up a pants size. Which I do. Possibly it’s time to fight fire with fire…or water. My boyfriend’s Blackberry does seem to be getting a little smudged, due to his constant, loving caresses and attention. Perhaps it needs a bath.
Jillian, Akie & I took on iPhones vs Blackberrys vs Nothing in Thursday’s Perpetual Post. Read the full account here.
I will readily admit that I have spent little time fondling either a Blackberry or an iPhone. And I don’t really have anything against either one—yet somehow, my ambivalence comes across to devotees as a thrown gauntlet. Yes, your iPhone is neat. Yes, I’m impressed by the ingenious App you just downloaded for free. I’m sure it’s already saved you lots of time. Look how quickly you found us a local restaurant. ENOUGH ALREADY.
Sure, tell me more about your iPhone. How long have you had it? What do you like to do with it? How has it changed your life? I’m sorry, but listening to someone tell me about their iPhone is only a little more entertaining than hearing them talk about their children. I have to feign the same kind of enthusiasm. “Aw. He’s adorable! He sure has your apps.”
If I ever got an iPhone, I’m sure I’d like it; just like if I ever had a child, I’m sure I would enjoy being a parent. But if I’m not ready, don’t push me. I’ll get pregnant/switch to AT&T when I’m good and ready—and not before. The relentless pressure I receive from both parents and iPhone owners has left me a little bit leery of the concept of either.
And don’t get me started on the Blackberry. I know even less about it than I do about the iPhone—probably because the Blackberry appears to be the phone du jour of the successful business person, and I don’t really know any of those. None of them will return my calls. From what I can tell, having a Blackberry gives technology junkies yet another device to cradle 24 hours a day and consult obsessively. I can’t imagine that this would benefit me. Forget about having access to email and Facebook updates—I already cradle my boring, normal cell phone 24 hours a day and check it obsessively for text messages. I thrill to the vibrating sound my phone makes when I’ve gotten a text message, even when it’s a message from my boyfriend that says, ‘did u finish the milk?’ If my phone gave me access to weather updates, breaking news and movie times I would probably stare into its screen like Narcissus gazing at his reflection in a pool until I perished. I don’t really want a device that enables me to be even more obsessive-compulsive about my cell phone than I already am.
And no, I don’t particularly need a phone that connects me to email and internet. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a lawyer. If I can’t access the internet for an hour, no one suffers except for me, and it’s the kind of suffering related to having to socially interact with other people.
Speaking of socially interacting with other people, has anyone else noticed that the more time they spend hunched over a cell phone, the less that happens? I can’t help but wonder whether cell phones have become tiny social crutches. Alone at a party and not sure who to talk to? Just whip out your iPhone and play a game of virtual pinball or pull up a map to the nearest liquor store. Sitting by yourself in a coffee shop? Why not grab your Blackberry and check your email one more time. People will see you and think, “She’s here by herself, but she’s doing something with her phone, so she probably has lots of friends.”
When you’ve got your iPhone, you’re never really alone. You’ve got a wee digital friend by your side! Your iPhone always wants to hang out with you. Of course, you pay it to, while your friends will hang out with you for free. But you can’t play Snood on them, and they can’t instantly update their facebook statuses for you, except by telling you how they are– which can take minutes. I guess it’s a tradeoff.
Last week, my laptop got a virus, and there was nothing I could do except hope that it would get better if I turned it off for a couple of days to give it some ‘rest’. I worried. I fretted. I wrapped a blanket around it. I put a hat on it. Not for it, but it helped cheer me up. Finally I called my friend who knows about computers. (Actually, I called him on the afternoon it happened, but I had to whine for a few days and promise nachos before he would come over. Let’s be honest here.)
I sat with my brows knitted in concentration as he worked on my computer, deleting files and asking me questions I couldn’t answer for the life of me. Questions like, “Do you recognize this file?” and “You really don’t know how to use a computer, do you?” Goddamn it, I don’t. I don’t really know anything about them, and I’m not exactly panting to learn. It’s always been that way for me with complex machinery. I was never the inquisitive child who was filled with curiosity, wanted to know how things worked, and had a never-ending stream of questions about every unknown object. When I had questions, they were usually much more straightforward and narrow-minded. “Can I eat it?” I often wondered. And if the answer was no, “Can I watch ‘Rainbow Brite’ on it?” and finally, if the first two failed, before the thing lost my total interest it had one last chance. “Did it bring me a present?”
In fact, once when I was in college and should have known better, I opened a potentially dangerous junk e-mail from an unknown source because the subject headline said simply ‘present’. Indeed, the lure of A Present is clearly still strong. Much stronger than it should be for someone who is no longer six.
Perhaps one of my biggest issues with technology is that I expect it to be more glamorous than it generally is. This problem is best illustrated by an incident from my senior year of college. For several weeks I had been seeing flyers around campus advertising an “Artificial Intelligence Forum”. There was a picture of a human-looking robot on the flyer, and a bulleted list of related topics underneath. I thought it looked like fun. “Are you going to the Artificial Intelligence Forum?” I started asking my friends at lunch. “What are you up to on Friday? I thought I’d go to that Artificial Intelligence Forum. You guys should come.”
When the big day came I arrived a little late at the auditorium and stopped short at the door. The room was filled with chairs, the chairs were filled with people, and a professor in a lab coat was giving a lecture from a podium in the front. I found one of my friends in the hall and grabbed him. “Hey, did you check out the Artificial Intelligence Forum?” I demanded. “It’s just some guy at a podium, giving a lecture!” He looked at me strangely. “What did you expect?” he asked. “Dancing robots?”
Maybe I had.
Molly: godzilla vs. grandma godzilla!
Dave: grandma godzilla vs. the crushing weight of impending mortality!
Molly: godzilla vs. his inner critic!
Dave: godzilla vs. monsters! and his own shame!
Molly: godzilla is never going to be good enough!
Dave: godzilla should just give up and go back to bed!
Molly: Why isn’t godzilla doing something more with his life?!
Dave: when will godzilla find love?
Later that day…
Molly: It’s the new black!
Molly: It’s the new Thursday!
Molly: It’s the new bowling!
Molly: It’s like wearing white shoes after labor day, and then punching pigs in the face and then eating their bacon!
Molly: I should perhaps limit my caffeine intake after 3pm.