This Phone Will Change Your Life
It was 2019, and after three solid years with my phone, I dropped it one night at a bar, cracking its bottom-right edge. As I gazed into its blank screen, I noticed a haggard, aging face staring back at me. What was I, if not the newness of my device? Who would want me if I looked as ragged as my phone?
Luckily it was the fall, when all the device manufacturers released their latest models. The hottest thing that year was a phone whose camera had seven lenses, or “chakras” as they were called, since the camera is the spiritual body of the phone. As I stared at the phone’s marketing photos — pictures of dogs with bowties, multiracial friend groups, and couples frolicking in autumn leaves — I realized that phones were basically cloud storage for happiness. I needed this phone. Plus, wouldn’t the chakras help me take a better Tinder profile pic?
I bought the phone in Sunshine Yellow, which I thought was a great way to make a statement about finding hope during dark times. By dark times, I mean the fact that our president was pushing our country to the brink of social collapse. And also, that I hadn’t had a boyfriend in two years. But I expected the new camera would soon fix that.
Instead, over the coming months, my matches on Tinder went down not up. Were my chakra lenses turning on me, emitting only negative energy and ugly-face filters?
I was puzzled until I realized that Tinder had started automatically listing people’s phone version underneath their profile pics. By then my “new” phone was already eight months old. Aha — that was the problem. Men thought I was obsolete.
I returned to the store and asked the sales guy to show me the latest models. He pulled out the most expensive device in the store, a phone whose Auto-Delete feature would automatically delete any bad or duplicate photos one might take.
“It can also delete any memories it knows you want to forget, as well as erase the presence of anyone you don’t want in your pictures,” said the sales guy. “We call it the Stalin Filter.”
“I only take selfies,” I said, unimpressed.
“The camera also has Auto-Beauty, which can get rid of your…”
The sales guy paused and his finger made a vague loop in front of my mouth. Oh. He was referring to my crooked left bicuspid.
Done. I raced home with my new phone, uploaded my first Auto-Beauty profile pic to Tinder, and waited to see what would happen. Unfortunately, the next day an earthquake killed 1,000 people in Seattle. All of a sudden, it seemed like no one but me felt like dating.
The Singularity happened on a Tuesday at 3:05 p.m. Due to the ensuing chaos, the new phones were delayed that fall, which upset a lot of people.
But good news! The phone manufacturers had a midyear surprise to buoy everyone’s spirits: A camera “barrette” in pink or black that could take pictures around the clock, ensuring that I wouldn’t miss out on life’s most important moments. The only inconvenience was that the barrette had to be worn on the back of the head, forcing me to turn away from all the action in order to take a picture. Still, it was ideal for a busy, modern woman like myself. I got to relive life, for the first time.
I loved getting these perfect, curated moments from my phone each day, but I found I was meeting fewer people in the real world. As the end of 2021 approached, I settled on my New Year’s resolution: Going forward, I’d walk backward into rooms so that my barrette could get a good shot of the scenery; after that, I’d turn around and socialize. I vowed that 2022 would be the year I’d finally meet my soul mate.
That plan quickly ran into a snag because the moment we entered 2022, everyone suddenly started freaking out about the Singularity, which seemed to be hurtling toward us with the force and rage of a thousand sharp-toothed cyclones. Auto-Delete showed me nothing but the most vivid moments of my own existential dread — internal debates about what life and companionship would look like when the machines finally surpassed human intelligence. But I tried to look at the bright side: At least when I was merged with my phone I’d have someone to talk to.
The Singularity happened on a Tuesday at 3:05 p.m. Due to the ensuing chaos, the new phones were delayed that fall, which upset a lot of people. The ones who survived, that is.
You’d think that civil unrest in the face of global militarization and the decimation of the human race would be stressful, but I did okay with it. That was thanks in part to the much-anticipated release of the new phones, which had several Companion features. My new device could hover alongside me as I walked, and stretched across my face like a comforting mask as I slept. When I felt lonely, it glowed with pleasure under my touch, occasionally sending a notification to remind me someone — or at least an app — was thinking of me.
Then one day everything went haywire. My phone started circling my head like a bee, buzzing with notifications. I tried putting it on vibrate or silent, but both options seemed broken. The dings and the ads grew worse with each passing day. I dug up my original, quiet phone and found myself running my finger back and forth across its cracked edge like a feather across a lover’s spine. Had I foolishly given up something good in the hopes of something better? That old phone had only made phone calls and occasionally told me the weather, but did I really need anything else? What was I missing in life, and what problems was I looking for my phone to solve?
It was around that time that I discovered a lump on my scalp. I could feel it throb underneath my hair, a puckering of doubt that pulsed in time with my phone’s insistence.
I rubbed and rubbed at the lump, certain it was trying to tell me something. And finally, it did — a message beamed itself from the phone onto my bare wall:
Introducing New Phone, available for the first time ever in Seafoam Green Zen.
My scalp prickled and the lump began to throb with urgency. My phone buzzed against my palm. “I want you and only you,” it whispered, and I realized, once again, that there were still so many ways that my life could be enhanced by technology.