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viewpoint

My phone and I

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I lost my phone. My phone and I are tight. I’ve had it for the last five years, getting it as a brand new iPhone 3GS my senior year of high school. Back then, America was still adjusting from those prehistoric times when smartphones with touchscreens weren’t ubiquitous towards the modern day where everyone has at least one for each hand.

My phone and I have since had many adventures across the world and our relationship has endured many of the travails long-term relationships usually endure.

That is why, when I lost my phone, I was in mourning for all of two seconds until I realized all of the cool new phones I could get with a new contract. Yes, it turns out I wasn’t into my phone because of its personality, but for its body only.

I quickly found my phone again, though (the Find My iPhone app online is really cool). Apparently, I left it in a cab the night before. I went and picked my phone up from the cab company’s office, and that was that. Yet, because of my brief bout of infidelity with the other phones online, my old phone — despite the fact that I was perfectly happy with it before — lost its luster. When I gazed upon its LCD touchscreen, I no longer saw it for what it was, but for what it wasn’t. I wanted a new phone.

When I realized this fact, I was upset with myself. Why was I so ready to move on from my phone? Did our relationship mean nothing to me? Was it simply a piece of meat I took advantage of for its “benefits” but didn’t truly care for?

AT&T seems to think so. With their new “Next” program, I could get a new phone every single year and quite literally create my own smartphone harem. It is consumerism at its finest.

That, however, is the exact reason why I ultimately didn’t get a new phone. I’m tired of consumerism. There is nothing inherently wrong with me getting a new phone. It wouldn’t cost me a dime and would probably be a lot of fun.

I didn’t choose not to get a new phone for the sake of simplicity. I didn’t get a new phone because I want to practice simplicity to avoid the consumer mentality. I don’t want to view things as only means to an end, or as some variable in a utilitarian equation.

Granted, my phone is a tool and utility is what tools are for, but in my experience I’ve found this thought process tends to spill over to other evaluations of worth, like with people for instance. Because I want to avoid this, I decided to keep my old phone as a discipline for living deliberately. There are other good reasons to oppose consumerism, like environmental consequences and sustainability, but this is my reason. I just want to want things for themselves, rather than as pieces of meat.

My phone and I have been back together now for several weeks. At first it was tough for it to forgive me for my infidelity, but eventually it took me back. I must confess, sometimes I am tempted to go back to the AT&T website to ogle over other new phones, or to browse CNET to fantasize what my new phone will be once my current one inevitably meets its demise.

But right now, I’m happy. It makes phone calls, it texts, it checks my emails and fortunately it’s been phased out of the most recent iOS update so it doesn’t have those horrible new aesthetics. All that’s enough for me.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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