This Christmas, I finally got an iPhone. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I guess we have sort of a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, I can now participate in group messages without wanting to rip my hair out in GroupMe frustration, and check my social media accounts periodically so that I don’t have to binge for an hour a night after being isolated for the entire day. But there’s also a part of me that is convinced this thing is slowly eating away at my soul.
It only took a few days for it to develop the characteristics of a physical appendage, and I’m worried I’m going to turn into Gollum any day now with the way my hand just seems to draw the sleek device from my pocket unprompted, compelled by some mysterious power. But the information overload is what is beginning to trouble me most. I’m all for instant access to information—it certainly makes winning bets a whole lot easier—but I can’t say I’m comfortable with all the information I never asked to have access to being thrust into my face every time I open a game or social media app. So I opened a sale ad from J. Crew one time—how many pop-up ads for preppy clothing outlets am I going to get?
The satanic amulet replaced my 2009 LG Cosmos —you know, the one with the sticky slide-out keyboard that your mom bought pre-owned for you in sixth grade? Well, sure, it was a crappy 2009 flip phone, but it was my crappy 2009 flip phone! What it lacked in practicality it made up for in character. I was unique for a while—and I had a great conversation starter with dates, who would look up for a rare moment from their own iPhones to examine my fossil in disbelief, sliding their fingers across the tiny screen left and right before realizing with rising incredulity that it wasn’t a touch screen, and then staring at me anew like I was some dark sorcerer with great knowledge of ancient secrets that I might reveal to them if the date was sufficiently pleasing. It was nice.
I can now understand the plight of all those mindless Apple addicts. They’re not too different from you and me—just normal people trapped in the hypnotic trance of black iMagic. But I am doing my best not to fall prey. Because I really believe that before this…this thing came into my life, I was better: more present, more tuned into my friends and family, more active, more thoughtful, certainly more efficient. In the three hours it took me to write this 600-word article I checked Facebook twelve times to see how many likes my cover photo had gotten, updated my SnapChat story, updated my messenger to see if any of my friends wanted to talk to me for some reason, and got a new high score on Amazing Brick. It’s been less than two weeks, and I’m already dependent. This is what psychologists would call a dysfunctional relationship.
But I think maybe we can tame these greedy beasts. Maybe we can strike a balanced bargain: between being connected and being absorbed, between trying to experience everyone’s life and truly experiencing our own. Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown attached to my soul. Maybe some part of it is still snuggled up inside that disabled Cosmos in my sock drawer, curled up alongside the water-logged battery. But what I have left, I don’t plan on giving away so easily.