All respect due for copping Beats, but it’s been tough to be an Apple loyalist recently. I could just be particularly bad at technology—a strong possibility—but my relationship with my iPhone, once fruitful and fulfilling, has gotten more trying by the day. I can’t sync anything. It hasn’t backed up in weeks. My photo reel is always full. There are gigabytes of “Other” data eating up memory (texts?) that I can’t get rid of. The latest iTunes app is Minesweeper. The list goes on: Autocorrect transfigures my words more harshly than an English professor with an inflated ego and purple pen, and I’ve gone through three charger cords that committed suicide via turtleneck. I hoard WiFi passwords from everywhere I lay my hat but I always get that data limit overage text. Why do I have a data limit? I don’t know how much longer I can accept these terms and conditions.
Anna Wintour agrees. During the heart of Fashion Week she was spotted at the US Open with an AT&T Z222 GoPhone, with a two-inch display screen, texting and calling, and no apps. (Of course, Anna has several phones, and several assistants with even more phones, but that should be the endgame anyway.) She's early, but not first: rare vintage phones have been going for stacks of euros via resellers across London and France all summer. The trend hit close to home when Duncan Cooper lost his iPhone last month and insurance handed him a matte black Nokia brick. It has text thread bubbles and charges via USB. He doesn’t seem pressed to upgrade, and it's hard not to see something about that as being better off.
Mostly, this identity crisis is Rich Po Slim’s fault. On “Nokia (Remix)” when he says These niggas talking bout they got four cellphones and they juggin and bumpin. Boy I know you on your mama AT&T cell phone plan, boy, I see you with your iPhone 5, hustling off that you tryna do fed time. I’m talking bout iCloud, GPS and all that. Boy, I pay my cell phone bill with a Green Dot card, fuck you talkin’ bout, I feel like he’s personally scolding me about financial autonomy as a young adult and the troubling culture of surveillance in our country. Then Makonnen proceeds to go absolutely stupid and shout out half of Atlanta after delivering a pretty succinct job description of an editor at a magazine: Emails all day, junkmail full of money/ Serving digital coke just like my bro Sonny/ Goddamn I’m Metro Boomin cause I’m really on the Southside/ Making plays at Waffle House, Bojangles, Church’s, Popeyes. By the end of it all, I really want to eat a three-piece and play Snake II.
Maybe we’ve finally started to outgrow the “I am my technology” ethos that Apple instilled in us at the turn of the century. It could be the fatigue that comes with always being “connected,” when in reality I’m almost always within 10 feet of a laptop—unless I’m at Kinfolk, in which case I probably shouldn’t be emailing anyway. The sad truth is, I’ve screenshot too many memes to fully part with this little slab of glass and aluminum just yet. But as Apple gears up to drop it’s sixth iPhone and a digital watch (after cellphones made digital watches obsolete?), I can’t help but think of a simpler 8-bit existence just out of range, and just how comical the opposite extreme can get. The New York Times recently published an op-ed pushing for iPhones to "step in and protect" users who take nudes in the wake of leaked celebrity photos. I've asked my iPhone to to do a lot of things over the years, but I haven't asked it to protect me yet. Maybe I should just be asking it to make calls.