My Smartphone Love Affair

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.”

—Douglas Adams

As a designer who clings to the corner edge of technology, it’s no surprise that I fell in love with you, Smartphone.

You look good—dark and monolithic. Behind the impenetrable exterior, there lies a virtual marketplace of apps, games and messaging—everything this woman needs—except conversation. I do suspect that the quality of cell reception between Kabul and the moon is better than what you give me for my conference calls with California, but it’s a small price to pay for your other gifts.

With your insight, I have discovered that there are no fewer than eight sushi restaurants in my area (some hidden within Korean restaurants). With your gentle guidance, I can find my way home faster by avoiding heavily congested areas during rush hour. With your 5-megapixel camera, and a tricky downward angle, you capture me looking no older than 35 (the photos that make it to Facebook). And when you’re near, I’m only a click away from the “Damn You, AutoCorrect!” app, which makes me laugh the way no man can.

You also are a muse, a helper and a comfort. I reach into my purse often just to check that you’re still with me—sometimes even panicking for a moment until I feel your familiar shape in my hand. Ideas often come when I’m away from my office, and there you are to listen and record, to download images for future use, to text a worried client and reassure them that all deadlines will be met. As you have freed me from the bondage of a desk, I am now bonded to you.

Stay perfect, Smartphone. Don’t go changing on me …

But wait. What’s this? You are changing! Smartphone, I think you may be moving too fast for me! I heard through the cruel grapevine that soon you’ll be working seamlessly with wireless sensors implanted inside me, serving me continuously without my active engagement; collecting data, analyzing situations, and providing information in situ via my wearable display goggles.

I’m not sure what all of that will mean for us. I already rely on you so much that growing even closer should seem natural. But I’m nervous. I’ve never interfaced with anyone so … intimately. And as I hear of your plans to chase a faster crowd, I already sense that you’re slipping out of reach. It’s a fact: You will outgrow me, as you evolve.

Walkman? Are you still there? Come back to me! We had a beautiful thing going.

By Masha Chausovsky