On my twenty-fifth birthday, life as I knew it changed. Sure, it ushered in the inevitable Era of the Existential Crisis, during which twenty-somethings slog and plod their way through the barren wasteland of quarter-life existence. But that’s not the change I’m referring to. What I’m talking about is one of the biggest decisions a person can make nowadays, one that involves mixed emotions that occur in stages: first, guilt; second, elation; and third—and this could go either way—continued elation or disillusionment. I’m talking about the switch from a Blackberry to an iPhone.
For months, I had a sinking feeling that my Blackberry was reaching the end of its somewhat short (but undeniably event-filled) life. It’s as though it knew that my youth was also withering away and it felt obliged to take the journey with me. “It” was the Tour 9630 model, the one whose defining feature was its ability to provide service across the globe. I never had a reason to actually activate this feature, seeing as how I’ve been overseas once in my life and my financial situation has made sushi dinners—let alone foreign expeditions—feel like a burden. Regardless, the Tour was my pride and joy, not to mention an impressive upgrade from the RAZR I had been using long after it was socially acceptable to do so. My Blackberry marked my entry into the world of casually texting in bars, casually texting at work, and casually texting while grocery shopping, as well as unmannerly gestures like casually placing my phone on the table at restaurants (read: Dunkin Donuts) and watching it with my peripheral vision—all novelties I had never before enjoyed. It also introduced me to the concept of having three separate email accounts accessible at all times, and knowing every time another Blackberry user read my message and opted not to respond to it STAT.
But as the months went by, and 2010 came and went, I watched my friends abandon their Blackberrys one by one, lured into the iPhone miasma, practically delirious in their enthusiasm for “apps.” I remained skeptical, standing firm in my loyalty to Blackberry even though I knew my Tour was not the spry young chicken it once had been. It was slower than it used to be and sometimes willfully neglected its smartphone duties, denying me vital information like Facebook invitations to jewelry parties and alumni mixers, and emails about Panera’s new salad. I found myself having to pull its battery out several times a week, and then more than once a day, and re-charge it on the reg. I spent more time nursing it back to health than actually using it for its intended purpose—keeping me in constant contact with even those who did not want to be in constant contact with me—and I began to resent its incompetence, helplessness, and refusal to be a team player.
Adding to my woes was my Facebook newsfeed, which was increasingly dominated by iPhone uploads, videos, check-ins, and more. I became painfully aware of my exclusion from Words with Friends and Angry Birds. I started to have some serious feelings of insecurity due to my inability to, with only a tap of a phone screen, watch Dancing with the Stars clips, auto-tune my voice, post a Yelp review (do people do this?) and manipulate photos so that everyone appears to be wearing a fat suit. It was official: my marriage to Blackberry was officially strained. It was the #firstworldproblem to end all #firstworldproblems. And then came the white screen.
My twenty-fifth birthday fell on an average, overcast Wednesday. As a brief aside, it is my opinion that birthdays have taken on a new shape in the age of the smartphone, since people have so many ways to get in touch with you. How will your friends and family choose to extend a birthday greeting? Will they text it? Tweet it? Email it? BBM it? Facebook-wall it? (Phone calls are for moms and for People Who Just Don’t Get It.) Now a good part of birthdays are spent, as mine was that fateful Wednesday, waiting for people to blow me up. If you don’t have at least twenty notifications by 10 AM, you’re doing something wrong. Sitting at my desk, I gleefully watched the little red Blackberry notification asterisks appear, mostly from people who I hadn’t spoken to in three years or more, never suspecting that with every birthday wish, my Blackberry was being punched in its metaphorical gullet. Yes, on the day I turned twenty-five, my Blackberry was on its last leg of life, perfectly in sync with my fading youth. And just as I went to text an obligatory “Thank youuuu!!” Blackberry committed the ultimate birthday partyfoul: it white screened. It white screened hard.
Looking back, I could have reacted to its death differently. I could have vowed to fight for its life and sent it away to be rehabilitated and repaired. But I didn’t. Instead, on my lunch break, I drove to the nearest Verizon store and a guy named Tim sold me an iPhone 4. It was done quickly, and without hesitation or ceremony. I was ready to embrace the genius of Steve Jobs. I was ready to be mesmerized by apps. I was ready to watch Aaron Carter’s jive whenever I wanted to, wherever I wanted to, simply because I could. I was ready for my life to change. This is what 25 would be like.
That was nearly two months ago. Since then, life hasn’t changed all that drastically. My feelings of elation subsided when I realized that my fingers are either too chubby or too clumsy to operate a touch screen with anything resembling precision. I haven’t “checked in” anywhere because the most exciting place I’ve been in the last sixty days is the Cloisters. I also haven’t YouTubed Aaron Carter’s jive (or, to be honest, Aaron Carter’s anything), played Words with Friends, or read a single Yelp review, much less post one. (Although after eating sushi at what I’m pretty sure is an opium den last weekend, don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind.) I am happy to report that I’ve taken several high-resolution photos; however, they are all of my dog. She looks awesome in a fat suit.
In other words, life with the iPhone hasn’t been life-altering. Instead of being a twenty-five-year-old with a semi-business-professional (albeit borderline-useless) Blackberry Tour, I am a twenty-five-year-old who wastes no less than twenty minutes a day slicing fruit with a sword and trying to beat a guy named Byron at Family Feud during my lunch hour. And yet I don’t think I’ll ever return to my Blackberry days. That time, along with my early twenties, is gone. Now my Blackberry is a relic and a symbol of those years, a time capsule of moments and memories: Low-battery on the train ride home from school; a miscellaneous “PIN” that may or may not belong to that guy from that bar we went to for my friend’s twenty-third birthday; the signature blinking red light that simultaneously calmed me, haunted me, and made me a little bit high-strung.
I’ll remember these things and more with fondness. But now it’s time to “check in” to the next quarter-century of life.