Last week, after two long years, I became eligible for a free cell phone upgrade with Verizon. My old phone had been through so much trauma that the least egregious tragedy to befall it was being chewed on by my dog. At that moment, when the phone was somewhere between my dog's incisors and slobbery tongue, it was probably just grateful to be in my warm house and not on the side of a road or in a field. My goal was to walk into the Verizon store and purchase a phone that did nothing but make calls. When the employee would try to sell me on a phone that could do everything from drive a Prius to drink 8 glasses of water a day (so that I could continue down my current path of doing neither), I was going to decline in the name of simplicity. I planned to talk extra loudly so that other customers could hear me extol the virtues of a "less is more" philosophy. I didn't want mp3 capabilities, a camera, or anything I could wave in the air at a concert in lieu of a lighter—I just needed a mouthpiece and a couple of buttons with numbers on them. It was all part of my plan to continue to eschew certain technologies that felt like they were distancing me from more tactile experiences.
Then, somewhere between my house and the mall, I bought an iPhone.
A friend of mine uses the term iHole to refer to people who parade their Apple products around. I don't have anything to add to that sentence.
So, now I have a phone that can tell me the weather. Currently, my phone says it is 55 degrees and raining. Awesome, now I don't need to look out my window; it does take a lot of energy to rotate my neck. In fact, I'll just shut the blinds and load Google Earth onto my phone's web browser. Wow, it's like I live in Portland. And I can check my email every 5 seconds instead of every 5 minutes, which means I just lost 5 friends on account of being that much more annoying. This iPhone is great. No, really it is pretty great. Do you want to see my photo library?
And here, last but not least, is the music part of this post. I am fascinated by ringtones. While many of our music listening experiences have become more privatized, our tastes are more publicized than ever. Between playlists on iTunes, social networking sites, and (ahem) blogs, we pretty much know what everyone else likes or dislikes. But ringtones are the musical calling cards; they broadcast our current favorites, our sense of humor, and depending on their volume, our level of hearing loss out to the world. Ringtones provide a momentary aural blueprint of who we are, or at least of who we want the world to think we are. Ringtones also establish a fleeting but collective listening experience. I guess it is testament to the power of music that even on the tiniest of stages, for better or worse, it can still be heard loud and clear.
Ok, I am off to download Dan Fogelberg's "Auld Lang Syne" as my default.
Note: This post was brought to you by Apple, AT&T, Google, and Verizon Wireless.