Saturday, April 30, 2011

Technology and Guilt

As I sit on the metro in Paris, I am often the ONLY person not staring down at my lap looking at a laptop, telephone, ipad, ipod, iphone, i  i  i     i       i.  I don't think it is a small coincidence that all this technology is about "I".  It really does shut out the outside world.  It is tempting, especially here in a big city where people aren't exactly chatty.  They are tired.  They want to pretend they are not where they are, in an old, dirty, hot box sitting next to someone who smells like stale cigarettes, strong perfume or both.

Watching Bollywood movies does help make the time pass better I am sure.  Texting and chuckling makes it look as though you have friends.  And above all, it sends the message that you really couldn't be bothered with anything going on around you: very Parisan indeed.

98% of the time I have Sabine with me on the metro, so it would seem a bit strange to ignore her for the sake of watching Ted videos (don't I look smart?).  And so, I don't - and anyway, I feel intuitively that it is anti-zen.  Hicham asked me if i wanted an Iphone, I said no, I am happy hauling around my ipod, my 15 year old cell phone and my little camera.  Last summer, I just had to have a better video camera to document Sabine growing cuz god knows I have not kept up anysort of baby book.  But, that video camera gets serious use, at home and only at home.  All those videos taken here at the apt makes it look like the poor little thing never goes anywhere.  Just runs around in circles like a captive animal.

So, Hicham got an Iphone4 a couple of weeks ago.  I was amazed by it.  I finally had to admit and accept the simple fact that all that crap I have been hauling around truly CAN all be had in one little box.  It takes great pictures, it takes wonderful video, it can text so fast (maybe I would write more than: on way), it has gps, watch as many Bollywood videos as you want and of course it is a phone with speaker (and much more).

Damn it!

I wanted to resist the pull, didn't want to be a sheeple on the metro or on the street using it instead of my little pathetic blue map book as I turn it different angles trying to figure out where in the hell I am going.  The Iphone, or something like it, is just genius.  Pure and simple : ONE piece of technology to replace all the others, one small purse to replace the duffel bag fill of maps, phones, cameras and i pods.

So, Hicham's iphone has changed my mind since I was forced to see him whip it out for the most mundane things, what will the weather be tonight?  What is the currency exchange rate in London?  Oh Sabine is being cute, I am going to take a picture now.  Etc.  Unfortunately, Hicham's NEW and amazing iphone was stolen this past weekend (long story).  Believe me when I tell you that NOBODY would steal my phone, I got it on ebay for two dollars.  But his phone was worth 700 bucks and he was beyond pissed.  He geo-tracked it, went to the street, knocked on doors, talked to people but to no avail (of course).  He went to the police - who admitted that when smartphones first came out that they actually took the trouble to get them back for people, but now that there are so many and so many stolen, they just don't really care.

Well, that sucks.

Hicham now 'needs' a new iphone.  Just like anything that makes life easier, it becomes a sort of necessity. Like toilet paper or sunglasses.  Sure, we could easily survive without them but the thought of it makes most of us shutter.  Having been to India, I can promise you toilet paper is not considered necessary by millions of people and sunglasses are only now gaining popularity in France.  But we in the  'first world' as we endearingly call it, have necessities at the expense of the environment (like, no duh?).  But that is part of my resistance to the iphone, what in the hell would I do with all that stuff that I bought within the last two years?  As we become addicted to the latest and greatest and feel that what we have is just not good enough, we toss toss toss away.  I, for one, feel guilty about that.


Joy said...


Joy said...

I really love my smartphone. It allows me to communicate during times I normally would not be able to. It lets my loved ones know I am thinking of them, and it allows me to feel connected in a world that I have no spare time. I still nurture my relationships I cherish. I still value a phone call or a visit. I enjoy a superficial conversation with the stranger next to me at the store.
I get irritated with people ever consumed with themselves and their phone(or whatever they have). Why? Am I jealous? Am I not interesting enough to start a conversation with?
Anyways, this piece of technology has allowed me to stay in touch with the people I wish to stay in touch with. I value that.

oliviadog said...

yeah, that is true about using the phone during times you would not normally be able to. I would call that, using your smart phone smartly ;) (like talking with me on your way to the cities). Thanks for the comment.