It is with great aplomb that your esteemed Animal can announce: I have now entered the world of smart phones. Having once thought my trusty Nokia E71 was classified as thus, I am now proved but a fool. That archaic device, as it turns out, actually suffered from severe learning difficulties and, due to not receiving the requisite nurturing (read: frequently dropping it on its head), it has now come to a tragic end. (Or has it? Oh stop, the suspense is killing you.)
Upgrading one’s phone feels a little bit like plunging down the rabbit hole into a strange and unfamiliar landscape where things don’t quite work the way they used to. It’s two years since I changed my phone, and in that time a lot has happened. There’s a lot of catching up to do.
I missed a shift at work and blamed it on the fact that my new phone’s calendar app is surprisingly shit in comparison to my old Nokia’s simple-but-precise inbuilt planner, which I’d been using in one incarnation or another for about five years across three different models. I can’t even type properly with this new bloody touch-screen predictive text bizzo. Where’s the tactility? How can I hit the right button with my clumsy fat thumb if there’s no button to feel in the first place? Grrrr. I’m barely old enough to have children, and already they should be head-hunting me for the next season of Grumpy Old Women. (Except for the bit where I’m not famous.) (Yet.)
Suffice to say, the week has been a bit stressful.
Now, if I were the sort of person who upgraded my gadgetry every time a new gimmick came on the market, this anxiety-ridden technological learning curve would no doubt have been blunted somewhat. Yet it’s not all bad. Actually, it’s kind of refreshing to be privy to a digital time lag, if you will. Not too dissimilar to a mild slap in the face, or a stiff drink after a harrowing day of navigating cubicles and paperwork. It’s a little reminder of just how fast technology develops, and how much we take it for granted.
To Upgrade, Or Not to Upgrade?
Usually whatever digital device I already own does a sufficient job at word processing, making phone calls, scheduling appointments or playing downloaded episodes of Party Down, as to remove any need to replace it until it starts to give up on life altogether. And, as somebody who never reads technology news or reviews, I don’t have a clue what I’m missing out on in failing to upgrade regularly. Unless, of course, the device in question becomes so socially prevalent (cue, iPhone) that the hipster in me instinctively shuns it anyway by way of its mainstream popularity.
And yet still I struggle with this idea of throwing out a perfectly good phone/MP3 player/tablet thingy simply due to an unhealthy, insatiable, market-driven hunger for new features. (Quite obviously this reveals me as some kind of a freak in my generational bracket.)
There are strong environmental/anti-consumerist arguments against buying the latest, flashiest, smartest, geekiest new piece of technology as soon as it comes on the market. On the other hand, there are also strong health arguments for the regular upgrading of one’s digital assets (I refer you to previous section).
The answer to all this, dear techno-freaks, is to simply be more mindful of what you use and disown. Are you guilty of hoarding perfectly working (but technologically inferior) phones in a bottom drawer, like little dormant melanomas festering amongst undeveloped rolls of film and gimmicky, once-used kitchen appliances? Sure, it’s no bad thing to have a back-up phone for when your current one mysteriously goes missing during a drunken bender (cue more technological stress – did you know that a mobile phone is actually connected to your cardiovascular system and that if it’s not within ten metres’ reach you will quickly begin to die?), but if you’ve got more mobile appendages than two, perhaps consider giving a new lease of life to your dormant digital device. (You know, like donating your second kidney to a distant cousin afflicted with poor health.)
What better way to assuage your environmental guilt than to recycle your phone? In Australia, the official phone recycling program is called MobileMuster (‘muster’ sounds a little bit Grandpa, but obviously they do not have a marketing budget akin to Apple’s, because Australians do not like paying taxes). They run a joint Landcare Australia initiative to raise money for regenerating our coastline. All you have to do is print this pre-paid label and send in your crappy old phone by post – plenty easier than enduring a bush rave followed by a marathon tree-planting binge the morning after. Or, you could just take your old phone to a phone shop. Or Officeworks. Whatever. Just do it before September 30th, or you’ll have to do the hungover tree-planting marathon instead.
Well, that settles the environmental dilemma somewhat; as for the stress issue, my advice is this: don’t go changing the brand of a thing that is integral to the functioning of your everday life, unless you absolutely must, for whatever your own neurotic reasons. I’m not talking phone companies (they are all out to screw us equally) – I’m talking the make of phone.
Every time my Mum buys a new Toyota**, it feels a bit different to handle, yet strangely familiar, like New Dad as opposed to Old Dad. There’s a leap, but there’s continuity too, in simply upgrading to the next model by the same brand, allowing us to ease into the next phase of digital development.
Course, if the car is shit, change the brand.
*A bit like the trauma after a car accident. Because technology is developing at really high speed. And if you speed a lot you will probably, um, crash.
**I hate to bring my mother into it, but this Animal has only bought one car in its lifetime***, and is therefore not a particularly useful subject here for illustrative purposes.
***Owned two. Wrote both of them off. (Cars are very bad for the environment and should all be destroyed.)