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To iPhone or Not To iPhone

September 23, 2009

TomiPhone7989

Above: Tom holds his iPhone and shows how he marked the location of his favorite Cinnamon Bun stand at the Minnesota State Fair using one of the map apps available for this phone.

Something happened to the world that I knew in August. Almost everyone I knew went iPhone crazy—or so it seemed. A group of 4 other women with whom I correspond regularly as a group, started breaking out in iPhones like a rash. I admit it is awfully fun to get short videos of them out and about on their travels, but I wondered about all the chatter about apps. There seems to be an ap (or is that ap? I'd know if I had an iPhone) for everything. Frankly it amused me (and continues to amuse me no end) but it also seems dangerous. A lot of time seemed to be going into the selection and learning and application of these apps. These are all sensible, hard-working, highly productive women so I wasn't worried about them, but I did worry about what black hole I might get sucked into if I were to buy an iPhone.

Then, at the State Fair, my friend Tom whipped out his newley purchased iPhone and displayed its charms, its bells and whistles. I had never seen an iPhone in person. I have to admit that the first advertisements for them made me want to have one, even though I didn't really need one. The perky music on the advertisement just promised me that life would be so much better with an iPhone. Now I was looking at an actual screen—it was delightful.

But I was one of the last people on the planet to get a cell phone, plain vanilla cell phone. When I finally did get one it was because my bitch Emma had cancer and having a cell phone allowed me to keep in touch if I had to leave her with someone and go to a meeting. I also thought the phone would be useful because I was spending a lot of time out in the middle of farmland and woods training the dogs, getting the truck stuck upon occasion.

The thing is, I don't really want to be all that connected. I'm one of those graphic designers who actually likes to walk away from her computer. If friends don't call me for a couple weeks I just assume they are making a lot of art and are too busy. If I am out and about I don't call people unless it is an emergency, or, as in the case of Tom at the Fair—when meeting them I can't find them!

Cell phones have a lot of value, but I also believe it should be illegal to drive while using a cell phone. (Studies show the responses or cell phone users are more impaired than drunk drivers. That's not the world I want to drive in.)

Do I need a phone that will tell me, using Google Earth, exactly where I am? (Which Tom's did, and since we were at the Fair that was way cool.) Sometimes I just like asking folks. And if there are no folks around to ask I've probably got a map. Remember those? Paper things you fold up, can write notes on quickly. Can access without any batteries.

Then there's the cost. When friends tell me what they are paying for their iPhones and contracts I mentally tally up all the art supplies I'd rather have. (It's always choices.)

Someday I'll have an iPhone, or similar device. I'll go in to upgrade my plain vanilla cell phone and my only option will be an iPhone. I won't grumble, I'll enjoy it, especially the yummy screen. But do I need one now? Not as long as my nose still tells me where my favorite Cinnamon bun stand is. I prefer finding things the old fashioned way.

    • karen
    • September 23, 2009
    Reply

    About those art supplies… there’s an ap for that. iphone brushes.

    Ha hahahahah

  1. Reply

    I live in the Silicon Valley and everyone has an iPhone except me. I even have friends that work at Apple so I could get a discount. I kinda want one but kinda don’t for the same reason you’ve stated. I keep wondering what we did for communication before cell phones… I can’t seem to remember.

  2. Reply

    Thank You? I thought I was the only one who felt this way…computers take up enough of our time (like now…lol) as it is…and all these wonderful things have their uses…I’m just not that needy I guess. My husband has a similar phone w/GPS, etc. and I don’t even know how to turn the damn thing on and off…lol AND they get very warm when you are using them…pain in the a _ _! I’m off to work in my journals…have a great, creative day Roz, fondly, Roberta

    • Christina Trevino.
    • September 23, 2009
    Reply

    “I have to admit that the first advertisements for them made me want to have one……even though I didn’t really need one.
    The perky music on the advertisement just promised me that life would be so much better with an iPhone. ”
    The sad thing is, many people believe this, and even when we have instant means for communication, we don’t do it.
    We don’t have time to talk with people, ask questions, go together to eat that donut!

    • Roz
    • September 23, 2009
    Reply

    Karen, thanks for the laugh! But I’m betting you’re serious too!

    • Roz
    • September 23, 2009
    Reply

    Jon, I know exactly what I did before cell phones. I would drive to a phone booth the one time in a week I needed to talk to someone while I was out. And if I “landed out” with the car, I walked for help (happily not a frequent occurrence.

    I just really don’t need to talk to anyone with any regularity (except clients, but I call them from the studio). And I so like it that way.

    I have friends who are constantly checking their cell phones or talking to family members about things that really could wait, letting their flow, their day, and their visits with me get interrupted.

    I just don’t get it. It’s the antithesis of being in the present moment for me. (For people who need to be connected it might pass for the reverse to them, so I’m glad they have that option—but only if they never use the phone while driving!)

    I guess my life has always been about narrative flow. If you call your loved ones every 30 minutes you really don’t give yourself any time to develop a narrative flow to your day. When you see them how does that even go?

    Of course I learned all this from a father who traveled extensively while I was growing up in the pre-cell phone time. Calling even every day was not an option.

    He still tells the best stories.

    • Roz
    • September 23, 2009
    Reply

    Christina, happily for my lifestyle and temperament I can love advertisements (my father was a businessman with products to sell) and enjoy the “pitch” but walk away. I think, sadly that isn’t the case with many people. They need the latest thing to feel good about themselves. Or to keep up. You are right that even with instant communication options we don’t communicate. I ALWAYS have time to go out for a donut! (Or Cake!)

    • Diana
    • September 23, 2009
    Reply

    I was taught to not be a slave to the phone. Before answering machines we didn’t always pick up when the phone rang. Now that the phones answer, I say, leave a message. The reason: the phone always interrupts whatever I’m doing. I tell my friends to leave a message and a good time for me to return their call – a time that we can really talk. Then, that’s what I’ll do, sit down and have a chat and do nothing else. Our family has an emergency “code series of rings” that says “pick up now, it’s an emergency” but it is rarely used.

    I had a friend fly into a rage at me because I never answer my phone. She seemed to think that I should be available at any time she wanted to talk – even though I’m a teacher and can’t talk most of the working day, even if I wanted to do so. Well, we parted ways, unfortunately. (I know there was more behind this but didn’t want to pursue it.)

    I think all this phone stuff is a need to be connected to something bigger than ourselves. Unfortunately those who give in are missing the connection with those around them.

    I’m a big techno person – will only own Apple products – but have resisted the iPhone for all of the reasons above and one more. When they first came out I was talking about getting one, maybe. I got out of my car one rainy morning, my cell phone fell out of my pocket, jumped three times and landed in a puddle at a colleague’s feet. She pointed to it and said, “That’s why you shouldn’t spend $400 for an iPhone.” She is absolutely right. I’ve even put phones through the wash!

    • velma
    • September 23, 2009
    Reply

    iPhones: it’s funniest when they’re used by people who would NEVER buy a Mac. they are the buggiest of all. cracks me up. i have only a cell phone now and I hate it. gimme back my old DIAL phone. also have no TV. do have wireless and an iBook. technology fits best when it’s like a good PEN. i’d rather buy the art supplies. or better yet, make them!

  3. Reply

    I only use my vanilla cell phone for emergencies, I have a pay as you go plan that costs me $100 a year for 400 minutes.
    HOWEVER… I do have an iTouch, which is an iphone without the phone. It meets my needs perfectly and I mainly love to use it to share my art with others. It is actually an ipod, too. I could have all those “apps” but I don’t. I do like to pick up email but mainly it is a way for me to show and tell. It works where ever there is wifi.

    Elizabeth

  4. Reply

    I respect your decision to stay unconnected as much of the time as possible so you can spend that time creating instead of absorbing media. I have to admit I was both wary and delighted when you decided to do a blog. I was wary for the same reason — it’s time-consuming activity that means less time for art and you were one of the last of our online group to start one (but one of the first to have a website with those wonderful Daily Dots). But I was selfishly delighted because it meant a daily dose of Roz wisdom and enthusiasm.

    Quick question on an entirely different subject. I’m curious about why you usually say “bitch” instead of “dog”? I imagine there must be a reason…Is it important to use the word in its proper context to counteract the negative use in our culture? Do you always refer to male dogs in the same way and if so, do you call them sires or curs or just male dog? Is it important to designate the dog’s gender when mentioning them and that’s just the language of people involved with dogs? Sorry for the digression.

  5. Reply

    I sent a comment yesterday, but it may have been lost. Loved this post.

    Your comment about cell phones being the antithesis of being in the moment reminded me of a quote I read in the NYT by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It was something like, “In the 60’s the philosophy was ‘be here now.’ Today it’s ‘be somewhere else now.'” Sadly, he’s soooo right.

    • karen
    • September 24, 2009
    Reply

    All the texting and phoning and connecting… it’s because you can! Most annoying is that social manners have not kept up with technology. So, what if we bring back PHONE BOOTHS!

    Remember when you had to go into one to make a call? Cozy, private, a time and space for making connections.

    But seriously, I think restaurants should have phone booths. If you want to make a call, go sit in one. Then change into your superman costume.

    • Roz
    • September 24, 2009
    Reply

    Diana, I know exactly what you mean about the interruptions. I also ask people to give me a time to call them back. I’m sorry you lost a friend over this. I had a friend who used to call me at any hour of the night and day to talk about little things she was stressed about, none of them life threatening. I called her one day with an actual emergency at 11 p.m. and she blasted me with “how dare you call me so late!” (This from someone who would call me at 1 a.m.!)

    Clearly everyone has different issues around phones and connected-ness. I’m in the camp that believes a good bit of distance is a good thing! I think some people let their egos and need for immediate gratification take over. I’d rather have one thoughtful conversation with someone than 10 little sound bites during the day.

    I’m with you on the perils of damaging the $400 phone!!!

    • Roz
    • September 24, 2009
    Reply

    Elizabeth, clearly I have been living in a cave! I haven’t heard of the iTouch, which is not a phone, but can do wi-fi. I like the idea of having something I can use for show and tell. Hmmmm. I’ll have to look in to this.

    It’s a slippery slope.

    • Roz
    • September 24, 2009
    Reply

    Jana, you bring up several interesting topics (I love it) I could write a post on my decision to blog! Actually I really should because I worried that it would take down my productivity, but it actually hasn’t had the effect I worried about: less journaling. I actually journal the same amount, judging by my current page number for the year compared to the same time last year. However, I find it has cut into my painting time (stand alone paintings that can be sold). So it is definitely about choices. I also thought it would be a good way to attract new students, and stay in touch with former students. But mostly I’ve just always been a zine person and this is, to me an on-line zine. I’m glad you enjoy it!!! You’re very kind.

    As for use of the word bitch when talking or writing about Emma and Dottie, well they were both bitches—female dogs. (Incidentally, the word “slut” also describes a female dog, though it is no longer used that way; by anyone but me, e.g., to Dottie, “Oh what a magnificent slut you are.”)

    I don’t use the word bitch as a swear word. I have more advanced nuclear-powered words with which to swear.

    When I talk about the girls (another way I refer to them; oh and we had a short-lived, postal zine in the 90s called “Bitch, Bitch, and Bitch”) I always say, “Dottie (or Emma) my Alaskan Malamute bitch,” because that’s what they were.

    With male dogs I simply use the word dog, or leave it unstated if it is clear. (It gets really fun when you want to describe a “German Shepherd Dog’s” gender—German Shepherd Dog bitch, for instance, resulting in Dog dog, or just leave the second dog understood.)

    It’s one of those gender specific things that I allow myself latitude on. But then I’m still one of those people who uses He, Him, His, typically for a single subject when working with words like “everyone,” e.g., Everyone in class will make his own book.

    I find that cleaner than switching from male to female in alternating paragraphs (though I have been known to do that). I find the masculine is also neuter in my mind, so I don’t feel slighted or impinged upon in any way when it’s used. Though once when an editor, hell-bent on equalizing a 4th grade textbook changed the pronouns describing the astronauts that burned on the launch pad (I forget which Apollo that was) I gave her a not too pleasant lecture about the FACT that the astronauts who died that day were all MALE and the pronouns should agree with that and honor them, despite the fact that we had since had female astronauts. Fact is fact. Nonsense is nonsense. And as Dick’s mom says, “Crap is crap.”

    But I digress also.

    Basically “bitch” is a word I embrace. Several of the greatest beings I have been privileged to meet were bitches. Not all of them had 4-legs.

    • Roz
    • September 24, 2009
    Reply

    Kim, this is the only comment from you I’ve seen come through (recently), but I’m glad this one made it through! what a great quote!

    • Roz
    • September 24, 2009
    Reply

    Karen, I think phone booths should be brought back too! I hate it when I’m at dinner and someone at the next table is YELLING into his phone. I mean it’s great for jotting down material in my journal, but bad for having my own conversation or simply enjoying a thoughtful moment.

  6. Reply

    These devices are a major distraction for college students: more time is spent social networking about experiences than actually having ANY! It has removed some of the creative impulse in my thinking: ” empty ” moments are the ones where we can work in sketchbooks, on projects, ruminate visually—using our energies to make new things. If you were that connected to the ether —bet there would a lot fewer sketchbooks produced in a year! STAY UNWIRED!

  7. Reply

    Ellen, I believe they are distractions for everyone. I know some young people who are quite upset with how much time their friends spend on them—writing and posting about things, doing things just so they can post!

    Sadly family situations require that I get a smart phone with map access and other features so you comment comes right in the middle of a shopping week. Sometime next week I’ll probably have either an iPhone or some other smart phone. You don’t have to worry though, while I may post more to my twitter account I won’t stop sketching. I keep good boundaries around my journaling moments!

    I am rather taken with the iPad and that slowed me down abit—I was torn about having one and being able to sketch on it, but unless things change that won’t be a purchase I’ll be making any time soon. (though I’m a bit sad about that)

    Thanks for writing Ellen.

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