What with all the recent hoopla about privacy vs. national security, I’m kind of feeling like going off the grid. But for the purposes of this post, I am going to stuff that feeling deep inside my closet, you know, behind the twenty pairs of jeans I haven’t worn in five years. And let’s move rapidly along, because (as usual) I need your advice.
You see, my husband just got a “special offer” email from Verizon, and the special offer is $100 off an iPhone. And he and I are both up to renew our contracts. And we are also about to have a child, which seems related in my brain but probably isn’t.
Anyway, he and I have both had flip phones for the past approximately one thousand years and we are jointly wondering whether we should just bite the bullet and get iPhones or not.
Now, before you jump to the comments section and say, “Yes! Buy an iPhone! It’s the best thing ever!” I would like to discuss it, you know, one-sidedly, as one does in a blog post, for a bit longer. (You: Total shock that I wouldn’t want to end a post after just 180 words.)
Now, if I know anything about the iPhone, it’s that it inspires some sort of rabid fandom that totally erases any measure of practicality or reasonability (or at least it SEEMS SO, from the vantage of an iPhone skeptic)… so if you are right now heading to the comments section ANYWAY, I would like to plead with you to put on your most practical response pants and respond in as practical and frugal a manner as you can. Because the “it’s so cool!” argument just isn’t compelling enough to win me over.
Here’s my case AGAINST getting an iPhone.
1. It’s expensive. Getting an iPhone means paying for a) the phone and b) the data plan and c) some ludicrous phone upgrade fee that Verizon has drummed up ON TOP OF the normal cost of having a phone. And, since there’s no way my husband is getting an iPhone and I’m not (FAIRNESS), we’re talking a doubling of those things. Based on a rough estimate, getting iPhones will cost us an extra (approximately) $800 this year, and an extra (approximately) $500 a year after that.
Listen, I get that different people make different choices about how to spend their money. I have no problem paying $6 for a pint of raspberries if I am in the mood for raspberries, but I cannot stomach the thought of paying more than $6 for a tube of mascara, even though I wear mascara Every Single Day. I don’t have any problems with YOU paying $80 bucks for your mascara, if that is what you choose to prioritize in your budget. That’s totally FINE. I probably spend a great deal of time longing for your luxurious eyelashes. It’s just… not how I choose to apportion my funds. (And you might be totally SHOCKED that I am happy to spend so much on such a small amount of raspberries, which go bad so quickly you really have to eat them over the course or a day or two. Which is FINE. I’m not forcing you to buy raspberries.) Anyway, the idea of paying an extra (EXTRA) $500 a year just to have a fancy phone that I’ve never really needed or missed before seems, well, to borrow Swistle’s term, STARTLING.
And the thing is, well, we’re having this baby. And I hear that babies are expensive. Plus, I’m taking some time off work for maternity leave, which means that – even with my job’s extraordinarily generous maternity leave policy – I will be earning less than I would otherwise. Plus then there’s the cost of daycare once I go back to work. Plus the cost of HAVING the baby. So. Expensive. What I’m saying is, even though we are fortunate enough to be able to consider spending an extra $500 a year (GULP), it would still be an expense that would require budgetary cutbacks elsewhere, and, frankly, it seems like a perfectly RIDICULOUS amount of money to be spending on what I see as a Fun Gadget Luxury Item.
I am talking myself out of this iPhone right here in this first bullet. But! I promised my husband I would ask you to weigh in, Internet, so I shall soldier on!
2. I don’t actually NEED an iPhone. I think a phone is probably a need. I mean, it’s not topping Maslow’s hierarchy or anything, but I think it’s reasonable to say that having a way people can get in touch with you and a way that you can get in touch with others in an emergency is a necessity. But that’s A phone, not an iPhone.
Now, I know most (all?) people use their iPhones for more than just phoning. Texting, Facebooking, emailing, web browsing, photographing… plus other things I’m sure I’ve never even THOUGHT of. But… I have a computer for email purposes. I have a camera. I don’t really use Facebook (although when I do: computer). And my phone texts just fine – well, it SENDS texts just fine; it does not receive texts quite as well: sometimes I get texts from people (with iPhones, no doubt) that appear as just a series of squares – and besides, I’m not a big texter to begin with.
Sure, there have been a few isolated times when I’ve felt like having an iPhone would be really handy. When you’re halfway between home and a store you need to visit, but you don’t know if the store is open on Sundays and you really don’t want to drive the extra 30 minutes just to SEE if it’s open on Sundays, but it would be a real pain to have to drive a whole HOUR to the store next weekend… THAT is when an iPhone would be useful. Or when you’re at the mall and you see a tie that you think your husband would LOVE, and it’s even on sale, but the sale ends today and your husband is stuck at the hospital and also is very picky about ties… it would be so nice to just snap a picture of the tie and text it to him for an immediate response. Or when you’re at the grocery store and you see that baby back ribs are on special and you would LOVE to make ribs for dinner, but you can’t for the life of you remember the ingredients for the sauce… it would be great to be able to look up the recipe right there in the meat aisle.
But these “man, I wish I had an iPhone” occurrences are – for me, at least – fewer and farther between than you might expect. Really, I get along just fine with my little flip phone and my computer. I don’t mind taking photos with my camera – it’s very easy to upload them to my computer and the quality is, as I understand it (which is not very well, I’m just trying to be honest here), better than you might find with an iPhone photograph.
3. In general, the iPhone “culture” annoys me. I really hope you don’t take offense here, Internet, because I am sure YOU are perfectly polite when it comes to your phone habits. But it seems to me that iPhones engender a kind of… electronic dependence and a self-prioritization that I don’t find particularly savory. I am thinking of the people who bring their iPhones to work meetings and leaf through emails during the meeting. Or the people who set their iPhones on the table during a meal and respond to texts or Facebook posts while we’re eating/conversing.
I get that things are now very different from when I was kid. Our culture places a premium on connectivity, and the ability to be in-the-know and involved at all times, anywhere… and in-person interaction has dropped in value… and the boundaries of social acceptability have loosened to embrace our electronic devices…
But it annoys me, okay? If you and I are at lunch, I want to talk to YOU, not watch the hilarious YouTube video someone linked to on your Facebook page or wait for you to scroll through the funny message your brother just texted you before you complete a sentence. I find the whole thing disruptive and disrespectful and yes, I fully realize that I sound like a crotchety old bag shouting “kids these days!” and “stay off my lawn!” but that’s how I FEEL. And I don’t want to give in to that pull to be connected all day every day, to turn into a person whose attention is only half on her companion and half on whatever it is people need to constantly LOOK AT when they have iPhones.
Also, I don’t want my HUSBAND to turn into one of those people. He had a smart phone a few years ago, when his parents still paid for his phone service. And I recall that he always seemed to be looking something up – at lunch, he’d Google the craft beer on the menu… Or we’d be walking through Target and he’d compare the price of the vacuum we wanted to buy to whatever Amazon was selling it for… Or we’d be waiting for a movie to start and he’d look up the latest sports scores. I don’t know. What I’m saying is, while I FULLY ADMIT that perhaps my memory of this is distorted, and that it wasn’t as bad as I remember it was, it drove me CRAZY and I don’t want that to be our lives. I want to pay attention to each other when we’re together.
(As a potentially-relevant-or-not aside: I remember going on car trips with my family where all I wanted to do was curl up in the back seat and devour the latest Christopher Pike novel, and my father would constantly interrupt me to suggest that I look outside at the scenery! Look at those cows! What an unusual rock formation! Isn’t the Blackfoot particularly full this year? Back then, I just wanted him to leave me alone so I could read. But now I completely understand where he was coming from. Adulthood: Unlocked.)
Also: STOP USING YOUR IPHONE WHILE DRIVING IT’S DANGEROUS.
Okay, so those are my reasons NOT to get an iPhone.
Solid reasons, no? And yet here I am, really and truly contemplating getting an iPhone ANYWAY.
Here are my reasons FOR getting an iPhone.
1. It seems like having an iPhone and being a parent complement each other quite well. I suspect that I will want to take nine billion pictures of the little one in the coming months (and years), and that doing so will be MUCH easier with an iPhone rather than having to keep my camera on hand TOO.
Plus, while uploading photos from my camera to my computer is no big deal, it seems like it will be much simpler to just… text a photo I’ve just taken on my phone to my husband or my mother-in-law or whomever. In fact, it sounds like I could do all that one-handed, while nursing or holding a sleeping infant. And, since I always have my phone on me, I wouldn’t have to worry about the baby doing something adorable and photo-worthy while we’re out grocery shopping, or whatever, and I don’t have my camera on hand.
Plus, middle-of-the-night feedings/shushings/inability-to-sleepings. You, Internet, have taught me the value of an iPhone for easy, one-handed web browsing or Twittering or blogging. We do have an iPad, but even that seems unwieldy if I am trying to nurse and read at the same time.
Plus, apps. Like apps that track nursing frequency. White noise apps. Apps you can use to distract a slightly older child while in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. I don’t even KNOW, but I get the sense that they are a godsend for a multitude of reasons.
Plus, FaceTime. This baby’s grandparents ALL live far away. Same goes for Auntie and Uncle. I imagine keeping in touch is much easier with FaceTime – something that even my off-the-grid parents will be able to use, since my mom just bought an iPad.
2. It seems inevitable. Okay, I realize that this reason is pretty ridiculous. But it really does seem like non-smartphone options are going the way of the cassette tape. If, in a few years, we’ll be forced to buy a smartphone anyway, why not jump on the bandwagon NOW when we can take advantage of all the kid-specific benefits listed above?
In other giving-in-to-peer-pressure justificationism, I am also growing weary of not being able to see texts from people with smartphones… Of missing out on cute photos because the screen on my flip phone is the size of a postage stamp… Of being the last person to respond to a work email because I only check my email on a computer… Of getting half-incredulous, half-mocking, “THAT’S your PHONE?” comments when I get a call. Everybody’s doing it, and I am tired of resisting.
Okay, so you’ve heard my reasons FOR and my reasons AGAINST. Now, I would love to hear YOUR thoughts.
If you were to step inside my brain, to try to really understand my reasons FOR and AGAINST, even if they are completely opposite from YOUR reasons for or against owning an iPhone, what would you say to sway me one way or another?
Why do you love your iPhone, if you have one? What are its most practical uses? What makes it worth the money?
What reasons FOR or AGAINST and I overlooking?