The princess and the iPhone
Erin McAuliffe | Friday, September 30, 2016
Maybe it’s the immediacy of it all: Our lives are so cluttered that the only way to make time is to spend time planning out “free time.”
Spontaneity is dead.
Maybe that’s why I have this thumbed-over, creased paper planner. The purple silk place-marker frayed — and sticky from the honey and tea habit I picked up in London. The pages weighted with ink and strike-thrus — and stained from the coffee habit I sustain in America.
I never thought much about my paper planners and compulsively scribbled schedules and why I use them over my phone or laptop or The Cloud.
Since “daily planner” was a required item on my fifth grade school supplies checklist, I’ve carried around my life recorded and predicted on paper in timed lists. I find the act of dragging my pen across the completed tasks fulfilling — scratching the “to-dos” into “to-done’s” satisfying.
Recently, my paper planner provided humorous juxtaposition to an old man’s Palm Pilot at a Verizon store. The employee teased the man over the 2000s tech that he planned to use in companion to a “more than capable” iPhone 6s. I slid my hand into my cross body purse, repositioning my own paper planner to the bottom as an employee described iCalendar alerts and Cloud compatibility to me.
The millennial market has fronted the recent trend toward analog devices like turntables and bell-banging alarm clocks; articles cite the demographic’s “desire for the days before cell phones.” Older generations find the nostalgia superficial — “They don’t even know what it’s like to dial on rotary and be tethered by cord!”
Although my only memorable experiences with a corded phone took place in my grandparents’ house, I long for the days when you went to sleep with a blanket instead of a 64-gigabyte device. As I scroll through blue-lit Instagram feeds from bed, I long to flip through bedtime stories.
One of my favorite stories was Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess And The Pea.” My mom would read it out loud until my eyelids flickered into pause.
The story was a somewhat concerning, misogynistic tale about a princess so delicate she could feel a pea under 20 mattresses and was therefore qualified to be queen. Although the story raises some concerns on the validation of women’s worth, it often wanders into my mind as I lie awake on top of my pillow — on top of my iPhone.
How can I be free of stressors when my Gmail app is under my right occipital lobe for seven hours a night?
I essentially sleep with 5,533 unread letters under my pillow every night. Sure, the idea of a single love letter accompanying you into a hypnogogic state is an enticingly romantic ideal, even for a persnickety princess — but the fragile royalty would definitely disagree with the virtual Papa John’s coupons I cuddle up to each night.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.