It sits in the palm of my hand, glowing smugly. It knows it looks good. I gingerly touch its glassy surface and its face lights up, eager, ready to serve.
Somehow, though I resisted it for a long time, I have become the recipient of a new iPhone. This summer I scoffed as I watched my friends buying them, each one raving about them even more than the last. Even as I slip it into my pocket now, I feel like a traitor.
I’ve never been a huge fan of gadgets. Whilst many of my friends were always eagerly showing off their new Mp3 players or flip-top phones, it took me long enough just to get an old second-hand brick Nokia. Though I finally bought an iPod a few years ago, and got used to carrying a phone around, at least some of the time, I I resisted bowing to the latest fads. New models were brought in; fancy colours, thinner bodies. I just stuck with my old ones – if it ain’t broke right?
Perhaps there’s an air of self righteousness in my desire to resist technology. Part of me feels I belong to a gentler age, where mail just took time to get places and screens were found on doors. As I scan the iPhone applications with the slide of a finger, I feel a pang for rough paper and pencils, and maps, and compasses. I feel a pang for dials on phones and for the excitement of opening envelopes. Perhaps this is just as silly as those nostalgic shops that sell replicas of Victorian back scratchers and people that insist on whipping their cream with a hand-turned whisk because ‘it’s more fun’ (me).
Ultimately my fear is one of losing control. I fear the loss of the physical and tactile in the digital age. I miss old style ‘real’ photos, just because I fear losing everything at the touch of a button when it hangs in virtual reality somewhere. I fear losing control over my willpower – checking emails the moment they arrive and interrupting conversations to answer the urgent call of a vibrating tablet. I fear dependence. Sometimes I wish I could cut all technology out of my life with surgical precision -no mess, no fuss – edges stitched neatly to join the gaping hole.
But perhaps technology is just what you make of it. After all, you can use a knife to kill someone, or cut an avocado. Perhaps the iPhone can be a tool for whatever you want it to be. It could be an I, me and MyPhone, ready and waiting at any moment to fulfil as many desires as possible, or it could just be handy, like a spanner. It could just help you find places, and file things. Perhaps I needn’t be so afraid. Still, I’ll be vigilant.
Welcome, useful friend. I’ll be keeping my i on you.