I love reading articles about tech gear I don’t have and probably won’t be in the market for any time soon.
There’s this howler right now in the New York Times / International Herald Tribune about how BlackBerry owners are so embarrassed and ashamed of their devices because of the many things they can’t do in comparison to an iPhone or other Android device.
BlackBerry outcasts say that they increasingly endure shame and public humiliation as they watch their counterparts use social networking apps that are not available to them, take higher-resolution photos, and effortlessly navigate streets – and the Internet – with better GPS and faster browsing.
In the next sentence we discover how these luckless BlackBerry-owning wretches are forced to do things that most everyone did about five years ago:
This means that they have to request assistance to get directions, book travel, make restaurant reservations or look up sports scores.
Imagine having to contact another human being to find out a piece of information, even if it is only to ask another human being with a better device to gather said information from the Internet.
And what about that shame? Unless you’re psychopathic, shame happens to us all. We feel shame and even public humiliation when we realise that everyone knows we’ve done something most consider to be wrong. So should I feel ashamed because I freely admit to my readers that I do not own a BlackBerry, or an iPhone, or an Androgizmoid? That all I need is a Nokia cellphone and that no, I don’t have an app for whatever it is you’re looking for? Is it humiliating to do as I’ve always done and look up the sports scores in a newspaper?
And what about holders of older iPhones? Will they start having to hide them under a book or buy camouflage because their version doesn’t have the fastest connection technology? Where is this obsession with tech taking us when our measure of our place in society is how many bazillagigabytes of information we can stream while eating ice cream and crossing the street?
I don’t know, maybe living in Germany for 15 years has atrophied my sense of irony, but the tone of the article was pretty straight-forward. And its message is simple, updated for today: keep up with the Joneses, or feel the shame. It’s been the same since people first started to wear clothing and seek warm shelter.
I do know that smartphones are capable of transforming the way we live our lives, and maybe mine would change for the better if I got one. The fact that most everyone I know has or wants one makes me wonder how it is I keep missing the point. I’m tempted sometimes, but for now – just for now – no thanks. I want to hold on to a bit of my old ways a little longer. Maybe like the vinyl I listened to while writing this, cellphones will one day come back into fashion and I won’t have to feels like such a schmuck all the time.