Saturday, 19 March 2016

Connected

After four years, it's finally time to say goodbye to my Crapberry.

When I first got one in Paris - it was a smart phone. I could Whatsapp people back in England and check my Facebook when I was at work.

Then I moved to London and put an English SIM inside it... and it wasn't as smart. I had to go online and wait for the internet to load before I could check stuff, and I Whatsapp didn't work properly, but I wasn't that bothered. I only wanted those features when I was living in France, so I could keep in touch with people for free.

Then the colours in the screen started melting somehow, spreading out from a thin crack, until half the screen looked like an oil slick and I could only ever guess the general gist of a message as most of the words were hidden in a rainbow mess.

Somebody at work gave me another Blackberry, one they'd been given for free as a promotional gift, and that lasted for about a year, but it would sometimes crash and not turn on for hours... which is annoying when you're on your way to meet someone in town, or a train trying to organise a lift at the other end.

Yesterday it finally stopped working altogether. Its little red light was on, but it just wouldn't switch on. The end.

I've never cared about phone technology. I was briefly at the height of fashion when I was 11, and I got a Nokia 3310 before anyone else had one. Me and my friend Claire would walk around the estate pretending to talk to people on it, and remember a boy on a bike saying 'Raaaaas you've got a 3310!' and I felt Swish.

That was accidental though. My mum wanted me to have a phone because I was going to and from school on my own, and she was getting home later than me. I imagine she went into the phone shop and they tried to sell her the latest contract and she didn't realise she could get a cheaper one.

Anyway.

That was aeons ago. In the last four years I've started to think of myself as a Luddite, fiercely defending my Crapberry against FLASHY iPhone owners who smirked and gasped and asked me why I didn't get a new phone.

Because I could CALL people on my Blackberry and TEXT and take PHOTOS and check my EMAILS in an emergency and that is surely the definition of a smartphone.

Except now I have a new phone and I realise how much easier my life will be. I was always lost, with my Crapberry. It was no help to me at all in times of need. Not only could I NOT look at maps on it, but it would often switch itself off so I could't even call anyone and ask for directions or tell them I was going to be late.

Now I have Google Maps, so I'll never be lost again. And I can get CityMapper, so I can find out where to get the night bus if I'm stuck.

Of course there's a lot of crap on there too... Instagram, for example. I downloaded it for 'research purposes' and a few seconds later a girl at work spun round in her chair.

"I just got a notification that you've joined Instagram!"

It's freaky. Part of me feels a bit sick with all, it's too much. But it's also really positive. I would like to have a casual glance at my friends' photos - to scroll through everyone's lives and know they are having a good time, or where they are in the world, or laugh at something they think is funny.

I went to a talk by Caitlin Moran on International Woman's Day and she explained social media like this:

Imagine little points all over the world, and if they are connected to the internet, the points light up. Now imagine the little lights connecting with other lights all across the world, flashes of light shooting from point to point, flying over oceans and continents, as people connect with each other. Imagine what this looks like from space - it looks kind of like a brain.

It's like the world's consciousness is waking up and it's still in its infancy. It's like a toddler at the moment, but it will mature and it will stop throwing tantrums. People will stop trolling and spreading nasty hate because, as a global consciousness, we will will grow wiser.

I was in the camp that the popularity of Instagram and the Kardashians was a bad thing, because humans were becoming more and more obsessed with manufactured, aspirational aesthetics and lifestyles. But maybe it's more like mums on Facebook.

We all know what mums are like on Facebook, at first.

Then they chill out and stop tagging themselves everywhere and commenting on everything and posting selfies and calling you up and asking you why you haven't liked their post...

Maybe the world is a just a huge planet-sized mum on Facebook and soon it's going to chill out and people will be interested in creating art and discussing politics and sharing ideas.

I know people can spend too much time on their phones, but it's also brilliant to be connected and inspired. Imagine feeling like an outsider in a little town, or missing your family from afar, or bursting with ideas and having nobody to share them with.

Caitlin Moran's talk was really optimistic. For the first time in a long time, I can think about The Future of Planet Earth without images of racist, fascist robots with plumped-up lips and green kale smoothies popping into my head.

Saying that, Caitlin Moran also raised a very good point: Scientists are racing to get us all on Mars - a hot, dry planet of sand, while our beautiful lush rainforests and glittering icy snowcaps are being destroyed.

Can you imagine what future generations will say, from their sealed-in dome home on Mars?

"Tell me - why exactly did we leave Planet Earth for this shithole??"





3 comments:

  1. Nice post. I got a smartphone for Christmas and am now very addictive. Much more opportunity for Facebook-Mum stuff! Here's an article that made me think of you, in a magazine I think you'll like. http://standardissuemagazine.com/arts/why-i-love-hounds-of-love/

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    1. Ah great article! I've never heard Standard Issue before, thanks for sharing.

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