I work for a technology company, and we have a robot.
There is a robot in my office. An actual robot that you can attach an iPad to and then drive it around while it wears the face of the person you are Skype calling (see! Technology!) and it is both unnerving and wildly exciting.
If you’d told me three years ago that I’d work in a place with ROBOTS, I’d have fallen down dead, after laughing myself into a heart attack over the pile of tax textbooks I was using as a makeshift computer stand.
But now I’m a fully paid-up member of the digerati. At any one time, I might have up to TEN tabs open in Chrome. Yes, 10.
I think maybe once I pushed it to 11 but then I had a full nervo and had to close them all and slam my laptop shut, before calming myself down by microwaving a bag of salted popcorn and eating it all in a corner of the office where I didn’t have to share it.
But with these great advances in technology comes the unsurprising news that my phone is now so full of apps that it can barely wheeze my alarm at me in the morning before collapsing under the sheer weight of the lines of code keeping it functioning.
Did I get that reference right? Are lines of code heavy? I digress.
All of the apps I have on my phone both improve my life, and make it more complicated. I wish I was the kind of person who could swan off on holiday, returning a week later saying “Oh, I turned off my phone the entire time! It was SO NICE to be disconnected, y’know!” before chugging a kale smoothie.
That person is not me. My phone is an extension of my being, and is never any more than two feet away from me at all times.
This is a great source of consternation for my boyfriend (who asked me to marry him recently — I KNOW! CRAZY!) who is very much in the “Phone? Oh I put it down somewhere three days ago and haven’t seen it since” camp. He regularly admonishes me for having my phone in front of my face 10 out of 24 hours in the day.
And I get it, I do. But he thinks I’m always just dicking about on Facebook, when in reality I’m probably donating to people’s crowdfund pages, or reading in great detail about the Jonestown massacre, or writing a poem on my Notes app about the perfection of the humble egg.
A phone is more than a portal into the baby photos of people you went to school with. It’s more than the occasional message from your grandma reminding you that you are certainly going to Hell for not visiting in over a year. It’s so much more than that!
And so, here is my official riposte for anyone saying “God, you’re obsessed with your phone” — feel free to repurpose for your own needs.
Things I can’t do on in real life that I can do on my phone:
I can’t take photos of my cat with eyes. Sure, memories are great and all, but I can’t add the Amaro filter to her with only my brain, and I certainly can’t transfer the mental image to my followers on Instagram to enjoy and engage with.
Have you ever tried to recall all of the capital cities of every state in the United States of America whilst 10 jagerbombs down, while your boyfriend and a friend scream them at each other in a drinking game, and you’re meant to be officiating?
NO. Because NOBODY CAN. That’s what Wikipedia is for, my friends. Just a swipe away.
Seen a normal, plastic desk calculator anywhere when you’re on the bus and need to add up exactly how little money you have? No. Because buses do not have calculators built into the back of the seats, no matter how often I write to my local MP requesting it. That’s why phones have calculators.
I can’t get Ira Glass to follow me on my cycle to work, personally recounting the latest This American Life podcast at me, direct into my ears, because he’s a really busy man, and probably has better things to do, like subscribe to Stamps.com. This is a real shame, but is made better by the fact that I can use my phone to download it whenever I like.
If you’ve just seen in the local paper that a guy you went to school with has been sent to prison for drug-related offences with a light sprinkling of armed burglary, you can’t instantly shout into the sky and reach 10 of your best mates AT THE SAME TIME and look into their eyes ALL AT ONCE and see “Karen kutter is typing…”, because magic does not yet exist. But WhatsApp does.
All of the above are extremely solid examples of how a phone can enrich and improve any human being’s life and would certainly hold up in a court of law.
I haven’t even strayed into how it can be used as a compendium of every meal you have ever eaten, for your own reference. I could probably write 800 words on that alone.
If I were really driven, I could have written this entirely on my phone, just to prove a point, so I could essentially make money from having my phone in front of my face. But I’ll just use all the extra time I saved by writing on a laptop on having a nice conversation with a human.
Because I can do that, too.
Natalie’s checking Twitter on her phone over at @Natalie_KateM