Recently, I have come to a cross roads in life. For the longest time, three whole years to be exact, I was the proud owner of an LG Rumour flip phone. I first got it in highschool and it carried on with me into the first few years of University. I would get odd stares when I would pull it out of my bag, or a few scoffs accompanied by, “Are they still making those things?” But for me, it was the best little device. It never failed me, that LG Rumour, so trustworthy. The screen never cracked if I dropped it, (only once or twice), it was easy to text and served its purpose more than adequately. Despite the berating feedback, I loved my LG.
However, as most things do, my contract expired and I was in the business of looking for a new phone. I had it in my head that there were pretty much only two kinds of phones out there. A Blackberry or an Iphone. I have to say I didn’t want either of them. I wanted a phone as simplistic as my LG. A phone that would get the job done, allow me to text and call. I didn’t need any bells and whistles or other embellishments. However, that’s really all there is on the market. What they call smart phones. I can use the term but I’m not entirely sure what it means. Smart phones emulate the Iphone and the Blackberry, in that there is access to the internet, the boundaries between a stationary computer and a mobile device gradually becoming blurred. Josgrillberg explains this as a kind of digital empowerment, “The digital locus is than just one place among many overlapping ones that make “society breathable”. Therein people not only engage themselves in different prosaic social relations, but also work and do business.” There is more to a phone than being able to contact someone. It is about engaging oneself in society, both physical and virtual, in an entirely different way. I am forced into buying a smart phone, because this is the future of communication. There is no ONE way to communicate. It happens in all ways from multiple directions. In my opinion this has an effect on interpersonal communication as well, but the main idea I want to get at here is that, for instance, the Blackberry is no longer a device fit for business, but a device that translates into the everyday.
Ultimately, what I have found is that there is a certain status attached to having a ‘smart phone.’ The mobile device is symbolically understood as an extension of the body because it can be carried with us wherever we go. Building off of the virtual self, “Mobile phones can symbolically represent the self through their brand, color, shape, ring tones, and ornaments of adornment. Young people are particularly known for embracing the mobile phone as a form of symbolic expression.” (Walker) The info-generation never goes anywhere without their phone because it has become a part of the self. Thus, the binary function of a simply sweet LG Rumour has given way to the personalized mobile device. So do smart phones make us smarter?