Pop Culture

True iPhone Confessions: If Loving You is Wrong...

My name is Jeff and I'm in love with my iPhone.

(This is where you say, "Hi, Jeff!")

In the halcyon days of my youth (well, the 2000s anyway), I didn't care about smartphones. I was busy living my life, attached to the Internet for work, but free everywhere else. The last thing I needed, I thought, was a gadget phone and the constant access it offered. More important, I didn't want other people's constant access to me. It's one thing to carry around a phone, but email, texts, social media...no thank you!

I was perfectly satisfied with my little red cell phone. It took calls. It kinda played music. Our life together was routine, happy.

Then, one fateful night at a bar — isn't that where these things always start? — I met the temptress. As with the gentle strains in the prog rock masterpiece 2112, by Rush, I wondered, "What could this strange device be?" But unlike the guitar in Rush's dystopian, Ayn Rand nightmare, this beauty didn't just make sounds. I could look at photos. I could TAKE photos! It had apps, the Internet, email. I suddenly forgot that I hated that stuff. I felt a surge of endorphins, but I tamped them down.

"Well, that's cool, but not for me," I said, sliding the phone gently back to its owner. "I'm not highfalutin," I said, strangely quoting one of the few episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond I had seen in my lifetime. The truth is, I was discombobulated.

I returned home with my little red phone, but something had changed. Everything was the same, except me. I was different. I'm not one of those people swayed easily by the moment. I don't watch uplifting movies, storm out of the theater and shout, "I'm going to change the world!" I'm a goddamn Taurus! Astrologically speaking, I'm rock solid. But there was a deep longing that had been tapped, a well of desire opened. There was no turning back. 

Before long, I was sneaking peeks at iPhones online, occasionally pressing my face against the glass at an electronics store. When a beautiful woman passed me in the street, I found myself staring...at her phone. The slow downward spiral had begun. I wanted that surge of excitement only this technology could provide.

In the world of smartphones, the iPhone is the crazy digital girlfriend. You do things for her you would never do for the little red phone, things the little red phone would never ask you to do. You can't help yourself and you can't stop. It was inevitable. I left my non-smartphone world behind for my new, fast-paced iPhone life. I thought nothing would change. Everything did.

It occupied more space in my life than it should. At work, it was on my desk nearby, at night at my bedside. We shared time and information. We took photos and texted with friends. We played games to kill time in the doctor's office, found new restaurants together in different cities while navigating the maze of traffic in our hometown. Most might believe the newness would wear off. Even I assumed the chemicals would wear off and I would settle into sameness once again. Much to my surprise, that isn't at all what happened.

I still use it day and night. I use Timehop every morning to look back at my digital trail the past eight years. I read the news every night. I scroll Facebook and Twitter, book restaurant reservations, check the traffic and the weather. I take notes and photos; I shop for more gadgets. I even control security cameras and the thermostat in my house. I wouldn't exactly call it an obsession, but it's close and I'm certain it is unhealthy. I know I should admit I have a problem, but if loving this phone is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Yesterday Apple announced the iPhone 7. The new camera lenses, the waterproof exterior, the added memory, the new colors. I don't even care that the headphone jack is gone. This goddamn thing is a masterpiece!

Still, I will not rush out to buy the 7. I have owned four iPhones, but I'm not an early adopter. These things are personal to me. It's not just about the iPhone; it's about my iPhone. Ultimately, I will succumb to the charms of the newest model, a devastating new mistress leaving me both breathless and broke — I hadn't even paid off the last installment plan before buying my current 6 Plus.

But such is life with an addiction. I am Sisyphus and the iPhone is my boulder. Now, please excuse me, I have an app to download.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke