My Abrupt Descent Into the Cesspit of Humanity or Why I Hate the iPhone Crowd
I told the nonbelievers that my 6-year-old Nokia flip phone would last through college. I would not own a smartphone as long as I was a student. My iCrap 4—christened so when I ironically stuck an Apple sticker on it—made me unique. My refusal to throw away a perfectly operational telephone made me superior to an iPhone demographic I didn’t want to be a part of. Unfortunately, while secretly texting at work, I dropped my Paleolithic communication device on the concrete floor. It was still functional, but icons were disappearing from the main menu, and the screen was flashing in two-second acid trips. Deciding I cared more about the photos on it of my deceased dog than I did my pride, I realized it would be smart to transfer the grainy pictures to a new phone before it completely kicked the bucket.
Persuading my parents would not be a problem. A few months prior, my mother had bribed me—carrot and stick—to lay my iCrap to rest (“look, honey, I can smash the thing or I can pay you”). She still believed at the time that I never responded to her text messages because my phone didn’t receive them.
So we drove to the AT&T Authorized Retailer. I later asked one of the two lonely personnel at the desk what the difference was between an AT&T Store and an Authorized Retailer. He didn’t know. My best bet is that the employees at the Store have the answer and the ones at the Authorized Retailer don’t. But that’s beside the point.
The Authorized Retailer tries really hard. The shaded Helvetica on its signs and advertisements politely screams, “Look at me! I’m modern!” While it’s probably the same as the font at the Store, it doesn’t pull it off quite as well, because following the “I’m modern!” is a parenthetical “I’m second-rate!” The sales room is a big generic grey carpet with plastic hanger arrangements of cell phones sparsely dotting the walls. The Authorized Retailer does not have chairs because old people don’t buy smartphones. Neither do tired people.
I’m not old, I’m not tired, and I don’t mind cheap (cite 6-year-old Nokia, I revel in thriftiness), so the projected aura falls flat, but doesn’t have an adverse affect.
The unenthusiastic employees react to my mother and I as they would to a loose unicorn in the store. They are surprised, frantic, and terrified. One is vaguely vampiric, you know the type: if the pierces aren’t visible, they are someplace unspeakable. The other is a middle-aged bald man who decides that we are not his problem, and turns back to his computer.
I explain that my phone is from the Dark Ages, and that I’m looking for a new one, provided I can transfer the photos onto it.
“I assume you want an iPhone,” the vampire says.
Apple products are so prolific in this county that he hasn’t even considered another option. Blond white girl walks into a phone store…what else could she possibly get? At least here, iPhone is synonymous with smartphone. And as much as I hate to admit it, I hadn’t considered the existence of anything else, either. I realize with disgust that now nothing will differentiate me from the rest of the spoiled kids in this county. Within five seconds we’ve narrowed down the one option in stock to the one option, because really, what else could it have been?
iPhones are sold in white, matte boxes. The design is sleek and unembellished. Due to Apple’s modern target demographic, simplicity in design is desirable. The box should be as easy to navigate as the phone because prospective buyers just want to get busy uploading photos of their merde a la mode to the greater interwebs. The packaging is minimalist, and to an extent, belies the attitude of the company. In Apple products, modern means simplistic, and simplicity equals usefulness.
And I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. Why then, am I so averse to joining this culture?
My problem with smartphones is that in practice, simplistic-usefulness tends to become stupidity. That may turn out to be a problem for the company. I don’t think Apple’s phones are sold through advertisement anymore, their own ethos and abundance is what sells them.
So if iPhone users are the ones selling the product, what kind of an image are they projecting? At least as I see it, it’s one of triviality and inconsequence. Instagrammers use filters to infuse the present with an unnatural nostalgia, and they waste so much time on the app that when it actually counts, they won’t have anything of substance to be nostalgic for. Pinterest perpetuates and encourages the materialism already over-present in the wealthy crowd that dithers around on it. Snapchat is cutesy and bouncy so that girls can fool themselves into thinking there’s something cute and bouncy about their boyfriends’ dick pics.
I’m so disgusted by this husbandry of pettiness that upon obtaining the iPhone, I have to prove to myself that I’m not “like the rest of them”. In a space of twenty minutes, I have deliberately sought out the cheapest shell at BestBuy, and have downloaded 18 educational podcasts. All the while, I repeat to myself that I will only use the devil-telephone for depositing checks. In the space of an hour, I am receiving scores of Snapchats from my friends (no dick pics), and have downloaded a number of games, which I briefly try out and shamefully delete. I have even entered my name as “Would yeh loike a cup o’ tea, lovey?” so that British Siri can periodically ask me if I want a refreshment. Oh god, I think. I’m one of them. And, worst of all, I turn the thing on every five minutes looking for some sort of recognition that people love me.
I’m still not comfortable with the culture, though. From the moment I set foot in the Authorized Retailer, I was bombarded with a misleading aura of modern utility. iPhones are marketed by both Apple and its carriers to be time-saving devices for the busy, well-connected professional. Commercials depict a mature consumer with a futuristic lifestyle. If iPhone advertisements were more truthful, and depicted teenage users frittering away their youth on impersonal social media, would the product sell? Probably not, and yet real-world advertisement shows us that very picture.
Judging by their website, Apple would like its consumers to believe that the iPhone 5C (“For the colorful”) will make them unique and stylish. “It’s an experience,” says the smart British narrator. If you’re not intelligent, at least your phone is. And if you don’t have intention, the iPhone 5C will more than make up for it. You don’t take selfies, you take self-portraits. A new, HD Facetime camera will let you get closer to your loved ones (when they flip you off, you’ll be able to see the folds on their knuckles!). It’s not plastic, it’s polycarbonate developed to maintain the “sense of quality and integrity that is synonymous with the iPhone 5.”
On the other hand, Apple would like its consumers to forget that the iPhone 4S exists. But if you really want to know, you can see a straightforward list of its features, an objective photo of all two colors, and the word FREE. Perhaps that’s why I found it acceptable.
This essay was originally written as a narrative on rhetoric for my AP Comp class. I feel that it intelligently describes my feelings toward at least on aspect of my society, and thus was a good choice to share in response to the Daily Prompt. The prompt was to show us society, and can be found at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/daily-prompt-west-end-girls/. Here are the other posts on the subject:
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