THE WAY I SEE IT: Cell phone upgrades hinder independence

Caity Donohue

I have an iPhone. Before that, I had a hot pink Motorola RAZR that I thought was pretty cool. Needless to say, once I had made the switch and gotten over the loss of buttons — trust me, it was difficult — I realized that my new phone was the equivalent to Superman, if Superman were my own personal assistant. 

My calendar notifies me of all meetings, appointments, family birthdays and important due dates before they occur. 

My GPS guarantees that I never end up lost, which is incredible, really, since my sense of direction is essentially nonexistent. 

If I forget the name of a song, I have an application that can magically identify it in 30 seconds if I hold it up to the radio. 

Should I need a phone number of a business, it is at my fingertips with the help of Google. 

I like thinking that my iPhone makes me more independent; that because it’s always on me, I am always prepared for all events and purposes. 

At the same time, I have the lurking suspicion that my being constantly wired in is, well, the opposite of independence. 

My roommate has a Droid. We make fun of the sound it makes when she gets a text: It’s a deep, robotic male voice that draws out the ‘o’ to at least three syllables when notifying her. 

That phone can do everything — a detail that the marketing team for the Droid has sought to exploit for consumer interest. 

If you have not seen the commercial, it showcases a set of robotic hands working rapid-fire magic on the phone, and it concludes with the idea that having a Droid is like having your own personal robot. At the conclusion of the commercial it’s hard to decide whether it is impressive, creepy or equal parts of both. 

No doubt, technology is a wonderful thing. I appreciate the millions of ways in which it makes my life so much easier. 

But lately I’ve become irritated by the fact that if I didn’t have my phone, I think I would be lost. 

I might have to walk into a crowded cafeteria and look for acquaintances, instead of being able to know that a friend will be there in another five minutes. I might miss a funny text from my brother. I might have to stop for directions. 

I cannot remember the last time I left my phone behind for the day. Am I addicted to being constantly plugged in?

I woke up the other night to my pillow buzzing. Upon further inspection it was not my pillow; I use my phone’s alarm clock system because I do not have a bedside table. It is a ridiculous time of night for me to be fielding any message, and yet I know what it is. 

Across the room, I hear the Droid too. Our phones buzz in tandem like some impromptu robot concert.

“Ignore it,” I think even as I feel myself caving. “Whatever it is, it can wait until morning.” 

But it can’t, and it won’t, and I roll over anyway to ponder a response. This gives a whole new meaning to waiting by the phone. 

Caity Donohue is a junior English major from Northbrook, Ill. She can be reached at [email protected].