Twenty-something-post-grad life tends to be plagued with questions: What should I do with my life? Who should I be? Who should I be with? Where should I live? Where can I afford to live? Should I eat gluten? Seriously, do you think this rash is a symptom of an undiagnosed gluten allergy?
It can be overwhelming just to get out of bed in the morning and face another day adrift in the world, never knowing if your millennial malaise is just a phase or a terminal condition. Some particularly trying days, I imagine an easier life as a Chilean sea bass swimming downstream, just getting by on love and a diet of prawns. But then I remember the global health concerns of sea bass, how they're being tragically overfished and how the inevitable effects of climate change will one day decimate their entire population. And I think, there goes another dream to the cruel realities of the world.
My mother thought she had the answer to my generationally-appropriate anxiety: A healthy bit of perspective -- and an iPhone. She thought upgrading my mobile technology would help me order and improve my life. "Lani," she said. "If I can't FaceTime with you regularly, I can't be expected to keep in touch, or stop you from making bad decisions about your bangs."
Although it was sweet of my mother to be concerned with my happiness, I was appalled. It was like Mom didn't even know me anymore. Next I knew I'd come home to visit and find a toy poodle had taken my place, curled up next to her watching The Mentalist.
I had long been planted firmly in the anti-smart phone camp. Generally speaking, I'm uneasy about how fast we're moving toward an all-electronic society. It's like no one saw The Matrix, or heeded its subtle warning about the dangers of the digital age.
More specifically, if I was forced to surrender my carefree youth to adulthood, I didn't want to be the kind of grown-up more worried about keeping her iCalendar appointments than about blowing everything off for an impromptu afternoon drive. I refused to become one of those people with enormous thumb muscles from texting and emailing all day. It's unsightly, and also, I think it's important to make eye contact with the people talking to me.
Not that I wasn't feeling the pressure to move on. When you're stuck with an old Motorola flip, you look like a huge square. Even Chevy, never known for being cutting edge, began advertising a whole new line of cars that come equipped with their own Facebook apps, voice navigation and personally tailored relationship advice. I watched as all my technologically outfitted peers went out and got jobs, lives, and downloaded Groupon apps that let them live out all their 2-for-1 dreams. They had it together, and I was still wandering around town with no GPS.
This wasn't even some "Mac genius" or hip tech blogger telling me to get with the program, it was my mother, and she's quite a bit older than I am. I was sufficiently shamed. So, a week later, I kindly let her purchase me an iPhone on our family plan.
I had objected to the iPhone on the basis of the fact that it's dangerously addictive and threatens to obviate all need for human interaction. As it turned out, I was pretty much right. Now, I am never without my iPhone. When it's in my pocket, I feel separation anxiety. At lunch yesterday, I walked right into a food truck, ordered three tacos, paid for them, left a tip, went back for hot sauce, and all without looking up from my phone once.
So, it's with a sort of heavy heart that I admit that I'm crazy about my iPhone. I love it more than most other possessions and some family members. If my apartment caught fire and I only had time to save one thing, it would be my goldfish Leonard because of his loyalty, but right after that, it'd be my iPhone.
I don't know if Mom was right that a single device could help solve my heavy issues. I still struggle to understand how it is I went from an imaginative and creative child to a working adult who has to sit all day and drive responsibly. I routinely spend hours bemoaning the loss of my innocence and why it is I can no longer do a somersault. I'm nowhere closer to figuring "it all" out.
But while your early twenties should be full of such existential crises, it shouldn't be bogged down in logistical questions. I no longer have to wonder where to eat dinner, and if Pho is healthy enough for my vegan friends. Because, I have an app that does that. If this is modern life in the 21st century, then I think I'm beginning to be glad to be a part of it.
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