Apple released iOS7 yesterday. I can only think of four reasons you might not have already heard that.
The Release of iOS7 Might Be News If…
… you just woke up from a coma.
… you’ve been hiding in a cave, off the grid, for four months.
… this is your first internet experience. (If that’s the case, I’m honored. It’s strange that you typed my blog’s URL into the address bar, but it’s also very mature of you. I spent most of 2000 typing curse words into that sucker just to see what happened.)
… your oddly-specific superpower is the ability to ignore all tech-related news.
For a lot of iPhone owners, including myself, it was the equivalent of a national holiday. I woke up full of joy, thrilled to be alive on that glorious day. The update was slated for 11am. Unfortunately, at 11am I was sitting in a corner behind a giant column.
While the advantages of sitting there are myriad, one disadvantage is that the wifi signal is non-existent. (That, and if the office is ever in a lockdown situation, my desk is the designated pee corner.) It’s ok, Stephanie, I thought to myself. You can update your phone on your lunch break! You’ve waited weeks. What’s one more hour?
I skipped home for lunch, phone in hand. My merry whistling attracted an entourage of cartoon woodland creatures. I tipped my hat to an adorable elderly couple holding hands and slowly dying together. I gave a little kid ice cream money. I was happy. My phone was happy. Everything was so right.
And then… disaster.
At my front door, I pulled my keys from my pocket. In that same instant, my phone slipped from my hand. Was it jumping for joy? Did it suddenly get cold feet about the update? Was I distracted because I had to pee? I’ll never know. One second it was in my hand, the next it was face-down on the cement.
I knew what had happened before I picked it up. With a sinking feeling, I flipped it over and stared dully at the shattered screen. The phone still worked, but shards of glass fell out every time I touched it. The joyous walk home seemed distant. I had been so young. So naive. A darkness came over me.
Instead of updating my phone, I spent the hour making a repair appointment for that evening. I obsessively checked the screen throughout the rest of the day. Every time I looked, a new fracture appeared on the surface. The worst of it was where I put my ear, an organ I generally avoid rubbing against shattered glass.
At the shop, I handed my phone gently to the repair guy. He frowned and said, “How did you…?” then trailed off when he saw how distraught I was. “Let me look at this in the back,” he said. I nodded and watched worriedly as he left the waiting room.
As soon as he was gone, I do what I always do while I’m waiting for something– I reached into my pocket for my phone. First I panicked because it was missing, then laughed at myself for being an idiot. Then I panicked again because I realized I have no idea how to wait for something without a phone.
What Did People Do in Waiting Rooms Before 2007?
– What are you supposed to do with your hands? I wrung mine like an expectant father in a sitcom.
– Where do you put your eyes? Staring at the empty wall seemed creepy, so I read the fine print on a packet of screen protectors.
– What do you do if a stranger tries to talk to you? Panic? Leave yourself open for conversation? Luckily, I was alone, but what if I hadn’t been? Can you imagine?
– What if you need to tweet something? What do you do?
The man was only gone for 30 seconds. “Come on back in 40 minutes and it will be ready,” he said.
“Ok,” I said, relieved. “Great!”
When I walked out the door, I realized I didn’t know what time it was and wasn’t sure how to find out. How do sundials work? Are they still around? I was about to Google it when I remembered I couldn’t. I laughed and reached in my pocket to text a friend about what a goober I was being before remembering I couldn’t do that either. I counted seconds out loud until I was back in my car and could check the clock.
I’ve been watching The X-Files lately (I know), laughing a little when Scully uses her computer or Mulder whips out his cellphone– high tech for 1993. That evening, I felt like I was living in an X-File. There was no one outside on the street. Suddenly I felt completely isolated. I couldn’t reassure myself that everyone was home Instagram-ing their dinners. I couldn’t call 911 if I got into trouble. I couldn’t receive any adorable cat pictures. I was so alone, so cold and so scared. I was also feeling like the quintessential obnoxious Millennial, totally unmoored without my technological crutch.
I want to end this by telling you that in those 40 minutes, I found my true, phone-less self hiding deep inside. I want to say that I’m turning my phone off for an hour every day to better connect with the world around me. I want to say those things, but I can’t because that’s not what happened.
Instead, I realized that my affinity for my phone is not a crutch at all. I can look up information in an instant or read a book on it. I can take pictures or video to share my experience and actively engage with others to better understand their experiences. I can get caught up at work, check in on my brothers, and even keep a record of my health with this thing. This is the future, and it’s full of amazing technology. Why would I reject that?
Exactly 40 minutes later, I left the repair shop with my fully-functioning phone and drove home to upgrade to iOS7.
It’s as beautiful as I dreamed.