Connected maybe, but not so switched on.

New phone! New phone! My gracious girlfriend was generous enough to gift me her spare (presumed dead) phone to use. Of course the rumours of its death were horsecock and it’s risen like a freshly baked loaf. I feel like I’ve never really known what it was to have a functional phone. My beloved Galaxy S2 was a terrific device, but severely hindered by the $10 text, wifi only plan I had it on. The previous phone I’d been borrowing allowed me to utilise WIND Mobile’s unlimited data plan, but the phone itself suffered from low RAM and generally limited hardware. I’m stoked I got free use of it for so long, but it’s nice to upgrade to something slightly more modern. The new model, unlike the last one, can actually access 4G connections and has enough battery life that I can throw a number of functions that’d make Felix the Cat‘s bag blush out of jealousy. Simple things like upping my screen brightness to a visible level or being able to have GPS on permanently to get the best functionality out of apps is now a reality. My privacy can now be further quashed by Facebook’s location settings. Almost as great, I can now use Google Maps as it was intended. If I’m not sure where I am, I don’t need to hunt myself down with a host of finger pinches and scrolling. I can let the computer do the work for me. If I want to access the net, it happens within 5-10 seconds. My SMS program opens almost instantly. Snapchat doesn’t take a minute to open (the point being moot. I think I’m over snapchat already). The future is now.

In prepping my new phone, it’s interesting to see what gets left by the wayside. Each time I update to a new handset I seem to shave away a number of non-essential apps (which will no doubt be compensated for with new ones that utilise the capabilities of the new phone). It takes a week or so of re-tooling, re-jigging and Gettin’ Jiggy wit It to make the phone truly operational. Contacts and app settings need to be backed up. I’ve got pages of old texts I like to hoard for posterity. While progressing on one hand,  there’s still so much I have trouble letting go of. These digital artifacts are like data souvenirs from my bit based life. It’s the cellular equivalent of moving house. Even as we speak I’ve turned away from my keyboard a number of times to check on transfers and processes from one phone to another.

It’s scary how much of ourselves we place into these devices now. My phone is stocked with little notes I’ve written, errant pieces of writing or bits I’m working on. There are photos from my last few years just floating around the hard drives of these pocket computers. For so many of us, our phones are a portal through which we present ourselves to the world. If it weren’t for my phone, friends and family back home wouldn’t know half of what went on in my life. I feel like every day I mindlessly or willingly cede my own rights away to large corporations and their lucrative data mining. By buying into the functionality and practicality of letting a device organise my life, I’m voluntarily turning myself into neat little market research statistics for these guys. They know where I’ve been, what I write about to my acquaintances, my likes and dislikes. While these products certainly make life easier, there’s definitely a cost to the exchange. It feels like I’m taking these low hanging baubles on short term credit, with the larger price to be charged later. The phones I’ve borrowed may have been free, but what payment am I really owing?

I’m sure Google Play has something I can use to figure it out.

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