Dear iPhone, Please Leave A Message: My Break Up With Technology

Georgio Konstandi 24 October 2019
Image Credit: Pixabay

When did we decide to abandon Da Vinci’s maxim that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication?

Back in 2017, as the iPhone was launching its X models to mark Apple’s tenth anniversary and umpteenth year of dominating the tech market, I attempted an air of interest.

The truth is, I’m never excited to see a new iPhone. Nor am I ever thrilled to see yet another batch of freshly-baked digital delights heating the headlines of media outlets and dinner tables.

I’m really not throwing any hyperboles around. Since their launch I have read all sorts of impassioned literature about what is effectively a block of metal and wires. I have read about their “truly drool-worthy” futuristic style. I have stumbled upon blogs written with Shakespearean zeal, such as ‘Tom’s Guide’ (curiously written by a gentleman named Henry) describing how he “hated” the name iPhone XS Max and remains pining for “my beloved” iPhone 6 Plus.

Though none of that can compare to the following piece of heartfelt prose I found in the electronic athenaeum that we call the Internet:

“The first time I saw an iPhone X in public, in an elevator with strangers at the office, I was blown away… the super-duper sized iPhone of my dreams.”

“Star-crossed lovers have spoken with less lust…”

Alas, in a world that values excessive invention over beauty of nature, we are bombarded with justifications for such fervour: a whole thirty extra minutes of battery life, “bigger, deeper pixels” and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of having two (yes, two!) phone numbers in one go… because the one thing missing from the twenty-first century has been more numbers.

In comes my tech guru friend. He tells me I’m missing the point. These iPhone models marked the beginning of new processors for faster performance, an increased storage space of up to 512GB and colourful aluminium finishes.

Well, imagine my embarrassment.

Does the prospect of a 5.8-inch OLED screen not even entice me? What can I say, 5.8 inches will only impress so many.

There is something rather tragic about the state of mankind that manifests itself in our addiction to these gadgets. As my Twitter feed explodes with images of 20-hour-long queues outside Apple stores (this time for the launch of iPhone 11), I wonder how on Earth we got ourselves here. How did we manage to lose the distinction between healthy innovation and the vulgarly excessive?

Before I continue, allow me to make a brief descent from my high horse and confess that I too once ogled the shelves for the latest iPhones, iPads and extended members of the i-family. I currently possess an iPhone 6s (though it is not nor has ever been ‘my beloved’) and I am typing this very article on a MacBook Air. I am a part of the well-oiled engine of modern excess.

Until now.

Ladies and gentlemen, I announce my annexation from the tyranny of the smartphone.

Many will be shocked at my announcement of our divorce but, after some careful consideration of the facts, perhaps it shall become less surprising.

With the merciless third year of my degree and my wuthering eight-year anniversary with social media staring me in the face, I have decided enough is enough. I cannot swallow another meme. I am done with the smartphone.

In true Brexit style, our divorce shall be staggered, confused and perhaps even reconsidered. I accept I cannot simply end all ties with the digital world – for a start, my course won’t allow it. But for the time being, I can begin to hack away at the gangrene of excess: I don’t need a smartphone in order to function. In fact, I would function better without one. Twenty-four-hour access to Instagram from my back pocket does not improve my life and a thousand and one notifications from that fitness app I never use does nothing to soothe my daily stress.

So iPhone – be gone! It’s time to welcome back the Nokia brick that filled my eleven-year-old eyes with untameable glee. So what if I have to go through the painful, sometimes agonising process of clicking the same button four times just to reach the letter ‘s’ ? And who cares if I can no longer see what my high school bully’s best friend’s ex is up to in Leeds? My brick phone offers me peace. Instead of opening up a network of further possible torment, self-loathing and despair, it comforts me with its simplistic features.

Join me on my journey to a simpler past. It shan’t be easy when society insists on propping the superfluous OLEDs and GBs… but if we give it a good shot, collectively, we may learn to laugh at what we once glorified. After all, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Do you agree? Let us know at editor@tcs.cam.ac.uk with the subject line ‘Letter to the Editor’!