Giddy as a child awaiting a sunrise to signal that it’s time to head to a theme park, my boyfriend and I headed out to celebrate his bi-annual Christmas – his phone upgrade day! For adults, phone update day is as grand as yesteryear’s birthday, denoting the special time where you get to celebrate existence in the 21st century by signing your soul away to sinfully communicate with people from remote locations for another two years. While this momentous occasion allows us to purchase the most up-to-date devices at a cheaper price, for many people, it’s just not good enough – especially if the release date of the hottest phone on the market falls somewhere within what seems like a century between updates. With how quickly technology seems to progress, it may as well be that long, right? Perhaps it’s the marketing magic of Apple tricking the trade into a belief that in order to be technologically vital, we must prioritize having the newest gadgets (even when our bank account implores us to hold back).
At a whopping 99 cents with a 2-year contract, the iPhone 4 was the original winner. After being told that the only difference between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4s was the height and size of the display screen, my boyfriend went for Siri, which is essentially an application that tempts you to procrastinate by having a humorous conversation you can take a screen shot of and put on Facebook to show how many friends you don’t have. Ok, I am downplaying it, but how else do you expect me to deal with “the other woman”? When my boyfriend used to ask what words mean by shouting from the living room, I was always there with a definition to echo from the bathroom. Now, I get to feel embarrassed as I shout back an answer, just as I realize he was asking Siri. As the brains of our relationship, I now bring nothing to the table. Plus, where is Sir? Siri’s male counterpart with the voice of some super-sexy male celebrity…like I don’t know, Morgan Freeman!
Despite this skinny homewrecker squeezing herself into my life, I am proud of my boyfriend for sort of, kind of, settling for a cheaper, but still fully functioning phone. Many people aren’t so rational, succumbing to the same advertising techniques we fancied ourselves too educated to be phased by and perpetuating a social paradigm of projecting ourselves as though we have much more financial means than we actually do. All right, who am I kidding? I totally want the iPhone 5.
As I barely make rent, crack open piggy banks for gas, and don’t do any recreational activity that requires payment, I still find myself looking at my budget from whatever angle will accommodate the new iPhone. I excuse myself from this shortcoming by acknowledging that my old Android phone, a Galaxy S (yes, as in not SII or III, but just S) freezes whenever I really need to make a phone call, doesn’t let me use any form of navigation, can’t post to Facebook anymore, and selects the text messages it wants to send – sometimes sending the ones it really likes literally thousands of times. Needless to say, I am no longer friends with anybody who has limited text messaging, and as a social media intern, writer, and actress who needs to constantly answer emails, make posts, and return phone calls, this is a nightmare. Despite my upgrade this month, an iPhone 5 will still put me out about $200. With my socioeconomic status, my pursuit of this phone is somewhat analogous to a homeless person begging for not food, not shelter, not clothing – but beer. Containing calories, wetting the palette, and sometimes satiating a craving, beer masquerades as liquid sustenance just as the iPhone parades around like a necessity because we have become so dependent on cell phones that it’s an addiction.
That’s me begging.
We have all had the withdrawals of lacking cellular service for a day or going a week with a broken phone. We’ve forgotten how to meet up at a time and place without exchanging multiple texts and phone calls to achieve it. Our nights with friends pan out according to what pictures we’d like to mobile upload to Instagram and Facebook, as if how the night is portrayed trumps how it actually went. Smart phones are irreversibly imbedded in our culture, such that we feel we are on the fringes of society–risking being left behind–if we don’t have the fastest and the best modes to communicate in the way that the world now requires of us. Ugh, the Amish must be cringing (or not, because they don’t know what they’re missing, nor have the technology to know what’s going on – or they are risking being shunned from their community by trading cows for iPhones. Sound ridiculous? Maybe not).
Though the lines outside mobile phone carriers’ and Apple’s stores could speak for themselves, I’ve done more for a Harry Potter book. The allure of iPhones gets more impressive. According to several surveys, people are not only all too happy to go into debt to obtain an iPhone 5, but they are also willing forego sexual relations for extended periods of time. Some men even claimed that they were willing to lose an inch below the belt if it meant getting early access to an iPhone 5, and others planned on purchasing the phone even if it would get them in trouble with their partners. Recent surveys are even suggesting that possession of an iPhone equates to more sexual appeal.
My original plan was to beg for iPhone money like homeless people do for beer in hopes that the irony would win over some business-savvy sugar daddies, helping me obtain an iPhone 5 while simultaneously giving social commentary to where cell phones lie on the spectrum of values. Since panhandling without a license is illegal in Orlando, I decided to interview people of various social classes to find out what they thought of these statistics and where the iPhone ranked for them. From homeless people choosing iPhone 5’s for a month rather than free meals and admitting they’ve spent hundreds on cell phones in the past to students feeling left out if they don’t have a smart phone, the interviews yielded information that was almost on par with the shocking surveys. We are putting them together for your viewing pleasure, but in the mean time, feel free to send your own video response or text commentary on the subject to email@example.com.