So I haven’t really talked about it on this blog but I had a pretty shitty experience when I went to Istanbul. Long story short, I got all my stuff stolen from my room while I was sleeping there. Ok, so not all my stuff, but the thief took my camera, my phone, all my cash, and weirdly, my computer charger-so basically, all my Millennial essentials. Of course, I am grateful that I am alive and my friends and I left Istanbul unharmed. But I’d be a lot more grateful if all my electronics were still safely in my care. Anyway, I know that like many other people of my generation, I am extremely dependent on my smart phone. But it wasn’t until I was plopped down, phoneless, in big ole’ Paris that I realized what an essential tool smart phones are for city conquest. So yeah, this is a post about how great smart phones are because, let’s face it, they are the unsung heroes of our lives.
- Smart phones help us keep our shit together.
You know those big chunky organizers we learned to use in elementary school so we could learn to organize our lives and be productive adults? Well, we often forget but smart phones are the modern, eco-friendly form of that. I use my smart phone as a planner, an organizer, and a “random thought/actually important things” notebook. Everything important that I should remember is contained in my tiny little phone. My appointments, my class schedule, my rendez vous, the list of restaurants I want to check out- all on my cellphone. When someone wants to hang out I have to check my phone to make sure I’ll be free. I even check my phone to make sure I’m going to the right classroom because I can’t even seem to remember where the hell my classes are located. And honestly, I don’t know how I ever woke up on time before having my smart phone. I need at least three separate alarms, set at 15 minute intervals, to wake me up, and that’s on a good day. With an analog clock or one of those lousy non-phone alarms, you max out at two alarms, so you’re guaranteed to be perpetually late (and I’m already always late as it is). What’s worse is having absolutely no notion of time because what young person actually wears wristwatches in this day and age? I mean, to be fair, lots of people wear wristwatches, but not me of course, because I had the false sense that my phone would always be all I needed. Also, no phone = no handy dandy notebook to take notes in. I’ve had to resort to writing all my little notes on my hands and arms and looking like Guy Pierce in Memento. You would think I would just carry around a little notebook with me or something, but of course, I always forget to and find myself paperless when I most need to note something. It’s kind of ridiculous, but really, city dwellers have busy lives to keep organized, and it’s just so convenient to have it all on a phone.
- Don’t know the way to that new bar with the chicken and waffle sliders? Good thing you’ve got a smart phone.
I personally suck at directions. I actually didn’t learn to get to my best friend’s house until last summer, even though she’s lived in the same place since we were both in 5th grade. New York is a little easier to navigate because, thank God, the whole city is planned on a grid and there are tall buildings that function as markers of north and south (I would die if I were stranded in the woods). But basically anywhere else, Paris especially, I have to be lead around everywhere like a child. So there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t thank the heavens for my iPhone and Google Map .I mean sure, paper maps exist and all , but imagine having to carry those obnoxious things around. I owe my ability to get from point A to point B to the little blue dot on my screen. My dependency on this technology has never been more evident than when I found myself on the verge of tears after spending half an hour searching for Chipotle and not finding it because I didn’t have my iPhone telling me where to go. I decided to just get off at the Metro stop that was in the general area and pray that my Chipotle senses would start tingling and lead me in the right direction, but of course I think I gave my connection to Chipotle a little too much credit.
- Smart phones actually have decent cameras
So, this one may not be as evident or important to everyone, but as a photographer I highly value the cameras on smart phones. I can’t speak for all smart phones cause I’m Apple and iPhone all the way, but it seems like nowadays most smart phones come equipped with a good camera. I take pictures all day every day and of everything. I’m all about capturing fun moments and taking pictures of pretty things and occasionally snapping a pic of a particularly scrumptious meal (judge me all you want, food is art and it merits recognition). As much as I love my Nikon (or loved, because you know, that’s gone now) it’s kinda bulky and it’s a lot weirder to aim a huge DSLR at a bomb ass salad than it is to discreetly point your iPhone at said deliciousness. It’s just easier to carry an iPhone and more likely that you’ll have a phone on you and not a gargantuan camera. So yeah, phones are convenient for my share-happy generation. They also come in handy when I’m too lazy to write down the name and address of that cute little boutique I want to come back to. Take out a pen and paper and slow down the crowd around me? Nah. I can just snap a pic with my phone and look at it later. Also there are times when my best friend isn’t with me and I need someone’s opinion on what I’m about to buy so what do I do? Take a picture; send it right away, and bam! Instant feedback to satisfy my Millennial anxiety.
- Phones provide hours and hours of entertainment and procrastination.
It’s really satisfying when you are bored out of your mind and you have the ability to be entertained instantly. I love being on the subway and being able to whip out my phone and catch up on some New York Times articles-no bulky paper copy needed. I can just as easily drown out the noise of the city (or have a private dance party) by just playing some of the music on my phone. Or I can watch some Netflix while I wait for my next class to start. For the less culturally inclined, there are also endless games to choose from- all accessible thanks to our handy dandy phones. You can crush candy, dress Kim Kardashian, make a Doodle jump – the possibilities for mind numbing entertainment are endless. We also can’t forget that smart phone s are convenient (and dangerous) portals to our ever-important social media lives. Instead of playing games, reading, watching videos, or studying you can spend hours on Facebook or Twitter obsessing over how many likes you got on your last selfie. You can check out what your friends are doing on Instagram too and you can find yourself a hot date on Tinder. Honestly, as much as I judge people for constantly being on their phones and perusing social media, I gotta say it felt really off putting not having constant access to my Facebook after my phone got stolen. Not only was I constantly missing out on the latest political war being waged on my Newsfeed but I also missed a lot of relevant messages from people. It’s telling of the decay of our society, but being disconnected from social media actually has a tangible impact on our young lives.
- The actual reason phones were invented: communication.
Given all the cool things that our smart phones can do now a days, and the many ways we rely on them as more than phones, we often forget the most important thing they do-they connect us to other people. Whether it’s through Facebook messages, FaceTime, texting, or calling (people still do that?) phones allow us to communicate with other people and we take that for granted. With our phones we can call each other for important things, make plans to meet up, or simply say hello. You’d be surprised how hard it is to do any of that without a phone especially when you live in a city. If you’re just planning on catching up with someone whenever you run into them, you’ll likely never hear from them again. After coming back from Istanbul without a phone, I had to plan everything to a T. There was none of, “I’ll text you when I’m on my way”, or “text me the address,” there wasn’t even room for a change of plans unless I knew exactly where to go for those plans. My friends and I had to plan where we were going, when we were meeting, and what we were doing ahead of time because if anything went wrong, we had no way of telling each other. And waiting around for hours at a coffee shop because your friend suddenly got a migraine and didn’t have a way to tell you they couldn’t come is not super fun. Basically, the only way I could talk to someone would be to have them in front of me or to wait until I had access to a computer and when you’re out and about doing your thing it might be a while until either of those things happen. So not having a smart phone (or really just a phone) basically means you accept a life of loneliness. My utmost respect to the generations that came before me and actually had lives before phones-I don’t know how you did it.