Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Goodbye, Flippy

Dear Flip Phone,

I think we can both agree that this is a little melodramatic, but after you spent over two years gamely putting up with nonstop mocking from basically everyone you came into contact with, it felt a little inappropriate to replace you without saying goodbye.

This disdain started right from the day we first met, when the salesman at the Verizon store decided he wasn’t even going to let me know that you existed. The only phones he bothered to show me were the ones with giant screens and names like the Kinoba 4G Energy Network Mitsubishi Galant that were far too busy uncovering nuclear secrets with nearby iPhones to give a crap about whether or not I bought them. When I noticed and asked about you, he responded with a befuddled statement that went something like, “It doesn’t have high speed Internet access.” I decided to buy you anyway, working off of the assumption that I would still be able to call and text people without high speed Internet access. Luckily, I turned out to be right.

Granted, I did have my doubts, especially when your front screen cracked just a few weeks after I bought you for reasons that are still a mystery to me. (I did keep you in the same pocket as my keys. Were they hitting you? You could’ve told me; I wouldn’t have blamed you.) But instead of sending you into an inexorable spiral of decay, this crack turned out to be just a one-time malfunction. It actually became a little endearing after a while. Plus, it made you virtually theft-proof—who’s going to bother stealing a cracked flip phone?

Over the years and months that I owned you, having a smartphone gradually transformed from a pretty cool luxury to an apparent necessity for anyone who had anything important going on in his or her life. This mean that the amount of crap you took from the general public gradually increased—first linearly, then exponentially, then whatever the thing after exponentially would be. (I was never much of a math guy. It’s why I used your calculator so often.) And that whole time, you continued to reliably keep me in touch with my friends and family, which is really all I thought you were there for.

I think it’s fair to say that I put up with the incessant derision about as well as you did. At its worst, it was slightly annoying; at its best, it helped me feel like I had at least a modicum of independence from technology despite spending about 12 hours a day staring at various screens. But there is one thing about the criticism that I never quite understood: you really weren’t that stupid.

You came with a built-in calendar, alarm clock, calculator, stopwatch, two types of cameras (pictures and video), and something called “Bluetooth” that I still don’t fully understand. And you did have Internet access, even if it wasn’t high speed, so I could easily email, tweet, Facebook, and come up with several other reasons to pay attention to you instead of the people I was hanging out with whenever I needed to. (It’s not my fault you were more interesting. If I ever meet someone who can instantly tell me what Jon Stewart’s last movie was, I’ll pay more attention to them, but you’re number one until that happens.) (It was “Doogal,” by the way. I haven’t seen it.)

So I’m not exactly sure what advantages smartphones actually have over you. I guess the obvious answer would be speed—why wait 40 seconds to figure something out when you could do so in 10?—but I don’t think I’ve ever been busy enough to the point where those extra 30 seconds would really make a difference. The other advantage I keep hearing about is how, when you get lost, a smartphone can tell you where you are and how to get to where you need to go. I’m sure this is true. I’m also sure that I’ve had pretty good luck asking people so far.

But I'm still on the family plan (I should probably be more embarrassed about this than I am), and my benevolent father has decided it’s time for my sister and me to upgrade to smartphones, so that’s what’s happening. I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you and goodbye before I forget how I ever lived without a constant stream of Twitter updates and the ability to make new photos look like old photos instantaneously. I’ve never had a phone hold up for more than two years before, let alone in the face of continuous ridicule and harassment. Nice work.



P.S. Sorry about all those times I dropped you. But don’t even try to tell me you didn’t love the adrenaline rush.