my iPhone purchase, a psychological study

“I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.”
— Oscar Wilde, c. 1878-80

Aesthetic Bridegroom— ‘It is quite consummate, is it not!’
Intense Bride— ‘It is indeed! Oh Algernon, let us live up to it!’

George du Maurier, Punch, October 30, 1880

After much hemming, hawing and hand-wringing, after purchasing a Blackberry and almost immediately regretting it and returning it, I bought an iPhone. I had my previous phone, a no-frills samsung which was built like a tank, for about 4-1/2 years. If the flip top (barely tethered on one side by a husk of plastic but still working) hadn't finally given way, and which required my holding the phone open with two hands, I would have kept putting off the phone purchase. (This appears to be my M.O. See my TV wrap-up, with German vocabulary)

I signed on for my Blackberry at the Verizon store on Flatbush Avenue in my neighborhood. It was just me—anxious, browsing— and the salesman, a very laissez-faire Russian guy whom I'll call Yuri. I told myself that
by getting a Blackberry I was by my own volition NOT joining the cool kids, not drinking the Kool Aid. I imagined I was placing pure basic communication (phone? "check," text? "check," email? "check") over hyped gadgetry. My silent reverie of justification was interrupted by a guy who blustered in, threw down a $20 and left. Yuri explained it was simply remittance for a prepaid cell phone but somehow it gave the place a sort of a OTB feel. Once I got the thing home I sensed I was making the choice of budget managers and Human Resources VPs everywhere. I knew I was in trouble the moment I tried to reach into the screen and move something.This was not where I, a design professional, needed to be. 
Needless to say the Soho Apple store, crystalline and humming with genius, was my mecca. My personal iPhone facilitator, a late-20s tattooed and short-pantsed guy I'll call Hector, was chipper and i-fluent and patient as I stumbled over the touch screen and repeatedly forgot my passwords. Hector didnt miss a beat when he suggested I might want to take the free iPhone class. I am considering taking a class. For my phone.


Whereas previously, things I stumbled upon, or had a fleeting interest in—things that crossed my field of vision momentarily while outside— could easily be dismissed, forgotten or, if absolutely necessary, be put into long term mental or paper storage, since, well, I was outside. Now, with the iPhone am I obliged to do something? Seize and frame the moment by uploading a status report, making a video of it, searching, identifying or mapping it?

With this phone I can no longer forget it at home, I can no longer NOT turn it on or refuse to participate. I could find my way around in an unfamiliar city, I could upload the photos of birds I identified with my phone to flickr, I could name obscure typefaces, I could draw the cover of the NYer fer chrissakes. There's so much I could be doing, there's so much I should be doing with this phone. I hope I can live up to it.


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