Inspired by this song:
So, I will date myself here, but I was an adult before cell phones existed. At that time, to me, the greatest luxury was not wearing a watch, seizing the day, living how one feels, and engaging in the moment without planning or watching the time.
I had come to New York with a suitcase full of art supplies to study, and this aversion to wearing a watch probably was a revolt, trying to be a punk breaking the Germanoidness, a society genetically prone to punctuality and efficiency. While I was most likely tardy for some college courses, I am unsure if I can ever allow myself to be late.
If you knew me, you would agree that I am a meticulous planner known to be reliable and, yeah, dependably on time. Being late insults me; I would certainly never do that to you. As a freelance Graphic Designer, I have never worked a traditional 9–5 job, but I love this freedom above all. I could say TGIF if I felt like it on a Tuesday. Not that I would ever have time for that.
These days, I carry a mobile phone like everyone else. It is the first thing to look at when we wake up and last when tucking it into its charger at night. At large, its notifications are annoying. I block out most news these days. Bricks control this society we carry in front of us like zombies. We eagerly pay 1000s of dollars to be always reachable, to distract us from where we are, take and share countless pix of things that will sink into the detritus of our data cloud, to let others change or cancel plans on a whim, and —I am giving up in exasperation— of course, it has a built-in watch, goodbye carpe diem.
I don’t value this phone; it’s my teenage daughter’s old iPhone 6 in rose gold. Apps crash, the battery life is crap, and it’s ugly. I like that it tells me to bring an umbrella courtesy of the weather app. The health app is cool, but my rating of this phone still stands at minus four stars. I dislike using it; I don’t answer most calls as I can’t figure out how to turn on the ringtone. I wouldn’t even mind the social suicide by not having a phone since my texting skills are borderline pathetic. I don’t connect through social media unless a job requires it. And please don’t ask me to remix or post your story in any way or form. From experience, I promise you, it never ends well.
Yet, apparently, the day of reconning is close to tucking in my tail like a dog and taking that step to make the mammoth, life-changing purchase decision: what new phone will it be? Can I contemplate paying lots of money to a company I dislike for something that looks like shit and causes me anger? I even considered bundling it with an Apple watch—hard stop. This doesn’t feel like me anymore; it’s a betrayal of numerous firmly entrenched values.
Or, I could be that rebel. When the iPhone came out, 2010’ish, I stood my ground with a weird Nokia flip phone with a hole into which one can strap a charm. Mine was a Japanese Cewpee mayonnaise doll, mildly Weebly in hindsight. Yes, it’s a dumb phone and makes answering texts even more of a punishment, and didn’t they say it would deform our thumbs?
goop, Gwenneth Paltrow’s lifestyle and wellness brand, makes a slick-looking phone. The satin screen looks like a Kindle. The website is minimalist, black and white, well, uhmm, trendy. The logo resembles Chobany yogurt, a fat Caslon-style serif, in lowercase, fittingly for its bolstering understatement. The only description says that this phone’s primary functions are calling, texting, navigation, music, podcasts, and an alarm clock. No refunds. It does look pretty slick, earning me, entering the consumer’s visceral stage, a check. I wish I could attach a camera, but the rest of the functionality checks out in the behavioral stage. Its understatement fits my pretentious arrogance: reflective stage: check.
As of the time of writing, I forgot to charge it, and the phone is at 1%. Your best bet to reach me is in person; come by my studio and talk; we have an excellent coffee machine. You might want to give me a quick notice by email or text to make sure I am here; I will see it because I am often on the computer, reliably reachable, but, Your phone won’t matter here because, as Erykah Badu knows:
You ain’t gonna text no one when you with me
I can make you put your phone down
I can make you put your phone down…