To the tune of “Daydream Believer”?
As I contemplate giving in and getting an iPhone, thus joining the rest of the planet in being perpetually networked, located, and informed, a deliberate contrary resolve NOT to do so is growing stronger.
The pros and cons:
If I’m on unfamiliar turf and suddenly remember that I need something from a Walmart or a Walgreen’s or a PetSmart, I can find one nearby. (Presently, I have to save it for a separate trip.)
If I get lost I can get found again quickly—particularly helpful to one who tends to allow barely enough time to get to appointments.
The camera. I can document my life and observations like a good blogger. I am not an image person, but describing things, like sketching things, takes time and energy. A snapshot may not be worth a thousand words, but it is a thousand times faster than a thousand words.
Google, for conversation enhancement and curiosity feeding. At home, I’ll run to the computer and look something up just for the hell of it. I could see taking that functionality portable.
(Note that some of my cons are precisely the things that other people would consider pros, and are even the flip side of my own pros.)
I do not want to be available to e-mail, Facebook, etc. all the time. (I’m addicted enough as it is.)
I don’t want to be staring at a screen any more than I already do. My eyes are forgetting how to focus beyond two feet away.
I do not want to have music, pictures, and the Internet available to me while riding the train, walking on the street, or waiting in line. I want to be forced to look at and eavesdrop on my fellow humans (so I can get depressed by how many of them are hunched over their iPhones or iPads or umbilically swaddled in their iPods). If I really can’t stand it, I’ll carry something to read. (For the preceding reason, probably NOT a Kindle.)
I like getting lost. Some of my best adventures and discoveries happen by getting lost. (You’d think I’d love having my own GPS because, like a stereotypical guy, I tend to stubbornly avoid asking for directions. And I’ll use a map. So why not an iPhone? Because it is one of those sense-imprisoning, sense-dulling electronic devices that take us out of the freshness of the real world and into this glazed-in, stale, stuffy perpetual airport that is the virtual world. Lemme out!!)
I like looking at things better than I like taking pictures of them, especially because getting the picture often jostles aside looking and seeing. (I didn’t get a picture of the new WTC, but “in the silver light of a rainy summer evening, it had a swooping curve like one of those mermaid Mae West dresses that nip in at the ankles, only leaner and sharper; and it had a string of starry construction lights for buttons. The bumps on my skin tingled and twinkled like stars in response. The growing shaft, silver as the silver sky, plunged stilly up out of the earth with that vaunting, rocketlike defiance that makes skyscrapers take your breath away.”)
I don’t know yet which impulse will win. The contrarian impulse may prove to be too quixotic, isolating (with no TV and no steady companion[s] I’m already living on the moon), and just plain inconvenient. I would feel like a sort of retro-pioneer, prowling a deserted antediluvian frontier where a few living fossils still find their way by deploying their senses in three-dimensional space, and obtain information by exploring or asking somebody.