Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Next One

It's that time once again.

I've started phone shopping.

As it happens, it's been almost two years since our magical Black Friday find at Best Buy. A couple weeks ago, I got my notice from Verizon that I was in the clear to upgrade and it was a strange relief. My phone has been fantastic ... until about two months ago, when it decided to start closing apps at random, refused to charge properly, and began occasionally holding text messages ransom for ... reasons.

These things come with expiration dates, don't they?

Over the course of fifteen years, I've had some varying adventures (and success) with phones, from my early days destroying flip phones to the time I threw the phone away. While I'd love to say those days are behind me, I have to admit that my current one has only survived thanks to its case [I could be a Lifeproof spokeswoman at this point. It's been wonderful] and I fully intend to go that route again. In fact, I'm already pretty sure I know exactly what I'll get, where I'll go to find it, which accessories I'll pick, and how much the whole package will cost me. Probably. My fee estimate might be off.

So why am I here bugging you?

Well, because this whole thing has gotten me thinking. As much as I wanted to bemoan our over-use of phones, I found myself on the other side, thinking, "Really? Are they that bad?"

In the last decade, smartphones have become ubiquitous. Gone are the days where a Blackberry meant you were Somebody. [Anymore, a Blackberry implies something completely different...] Technophiles and technophobes alike are finding them necessary -- or at least important -- for day-to-day life. Over half of the US population (estimates are around 64%) carry smartphones and a significant chunk of those folks (25% of that, or 16% of the US population) consider that phone their main internet source.

Our phones are the ultimate multi-tools -- we can call our mothers, message our friends, email our bosses, check our bank accounts, prove our car insurance, check the score, watch a movie, and if you're a nerd like me, find out when the ISS will be flying overhead. We can reserve, shop, pay, review, and play. They're alarm clocks, maps, radios, flashlights, pedometers, and emergency beacons.

This means that what we have here are devices that (a) are letting more people be connected in ways that only the very lucky previously could [think of how long it took for you and all of your friends to get internet access in the late '90s or early 2000s], (b) serving many purposes so you don't have as much need for additional pieces of equipment, and (c) could actually save your life some day.

Don't get me wrong. We could all use a little moderation. Well, some of us could use a lot of moderation. In defense of us, though, we haven't had them that long. The first iPhone was released less than a decade ago -- in the grand scheme of humanity, we're still in a honeymoon phase with these things. We're figuring it out slowly but surely.

These insane multi-tools have become our most constant companions, whether we like it or not. And while we can put them away for dinner (and should) or turn them off when we walk into the theater (and should), at the end of the day they're still some of the most useful things in our possession.

I'm feeling much better about my pre-purchase research. I mean, it's an investment ... and even scarier, a form of commitment. I'm going to be carrying this thing until it's lost, stolen, broken, or (pretty please) my contract runs out.

Here's hoping.

No comments: