I got my Droid Incredible.
So now I am a whole discombobulated mess.
Pervasive digital media at my finger tips changes the equation. I now have access to the full breadth of information on the planet at any time -- at a speed which will keep my attention. Pushing my daughter on the swing set. Waiting in line. Or driving in my car. They are all competing with my urge to check on every pressing issue. Should I run my app to see how far I jogged this morning? Any new Twitter feed updates? Should I check the cameras on the freeway to see if traffic is flowing before committing to my driving directions? What the heck, I'll run them all at the same time. There is a reason the Betty Ford Clinic exists: Addictions are a bitch to quit. Old smart phones were the free samples of drugs to draw you in. I am now on the real stuff.
The crazy thing is it seems that we are all passive agents allowing companies like Verizon and AT&T to take control of our lives. I am their pawn.
In 2002, I was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media in Transition conference. Richard Miner, Vice President of Orange Imagineering, spoke about the company he represents, Orange Cell Phones of Europe -- which operates primarily in France and is the fifth largest telecom operator in the world -- and their dissatisfaction with America's reluctance to take part in text messaging. When the statement was made, nearly all the astute thinkers of 2002 chuckled at the idea. He concluded with an ominous quote: "Within three years, America will be conquered regarding text messaging." Like clockwork the vernacular of the day was quickly altered by network TV shows and statements like: "text who you want to vote off the island," became common place. The change to move toward a texting America was decided as Richard Miner had predicted -- only we weren't included in the conversation.
In 2005, there wasn't a college campus around where text messaging wasn't changing the context of communication or what it means to be a young adult. And that was just the start. Society, and especially youth at that time, felt texting was theirs for the taking. They decided to use it for the associated gratifications. It couldn't possibly come to fruition to tack on an additional $10 text plan to subscriber accounts for no extra bandwidth usage, could it?
The newest incarnation of cell phone usefulness is changing the context of media as a whole. We are far beyond texting gratification -- and we will never head back.
The author Nicholas Carr, best known for his 2008 Atlantic piece "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" writes in his new 2010 book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, that the latest technologies are making society less capable of deep thinking. When writing his book, Carr found himself so distracted that he couldn't work. He had to set some parameters. Carr says in a June 4, 2010 Economic Times article, "I abandoned my Facebook and Twitter accounts and throttled back on e-mail so I was only checking a couple times a day rather than every 45 seconds. I found those types of things really did make a difference."
Carr's stance seems night and day to the reasoning for my selection of the Droid Incredible. I want to be a deep thinker. I want to follow Bill Gates on Twitter. I want instant updates on the gulf spill. I want to know if Lindsey Lohan got drunk on Kombucha Tea. I want, I want, I want... the narcissistic behavior of the medium is already showing through my mentality -- ain't that grand.
Obviously, Verizon marketing knows that the narcissistic it's-all-about-me behavior sells: the whole Verizon campaign, on a skyscraper in every big city, is centered toward the alienated individual in which everything is about you. No friends, no job, no community, no middle class job market? No worries--we have an app for that. Just subscribe.
Their mentality is obviously well thought out. The more it is about me, the more I am a loyal customer, the more I continue to tally up hefty media service bills. My focus, on my whims, does wonders for the Verizon investors and dividend returns. If Verizon was really into me, they would scale back the largest marketing campaign of 2010 a bit, and save me some cash in a rough economic climate.
To compete with my new Incredibly fragmented self I purchased the book, Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Tolle's method is about focusing on the current (now), not the past or the future. In the now, we have more power to accomplish and less anxiety/distractions. He goes on to say that everything we have ever done, or will ever do, will be completed in the current "now," and nothing is ever "done" in the past or in thinking toward the future. If this bestselling book has any merit, it seems his stance is in direct opposition to my Incredible self. My Incredible mind tells me I should always strive for more in the future and my narcissistic Google search regiment has my mind firmly planted in the past -- all of which Tolle says increases my anxiety and lack of productivity.
Regardless of the cumbersome side effects, I am loving my Incredible self. The operator at Verizon I spoke with in order to set up my phone was so envious that I had the new Incredible. I was the second person she had talked to with one. She said, "Do you now how lucky you are? I am so jealous." Obviously she knew that I was at the crème de la crème of happiness. I have it all.
The only problem is that my Huffington Post app just told me that the New Verizon Droid 2 will be released later today at a Verizon event. Maybe if I get that I will finally be happy.