my cell phone is so smart, S-M-R-T

Right around the time iPhones were becoming a thing, I bought a Blackberry, which at the time was still kind of hot shit. Lukewarm shit, anyway. But I could text and check my email and get on Facebook with it, which was all I really cared about. I’m not one of those people that needs to have a shiny new toy every time one comes out, and I never drank the Apple Kool-Aid, so I was happy with it for a few years. But then it got rained on during an excursion to New Orleans, and unfortunately I didn’t realize it right away, because I am almost 40 and I do not spend every waking moment glued to my phone. So it died. I’ve gotten my service through Virgin Mobile for years—another reason I will never own an iPhone is I refuse to sign a contract with AT&T—it’s $35 per month for unlimited talk/text/data, which is literally half of what other phone companies charge, but it doesn’t come with free phone upgrades. I was unemployed at the time and couldn’t afford to replace it with anything fancy, so I just went to Walmart and got a cheap phone for about $40. I’ve been using that for about a year and a half and frankly I was embarrassed to be seen in public with it.

So I promised myself if I got the raise at work I’d buy a new phone, and I did so I did. Virgin Mobile has a few Sprint phones that they sell under their own name that run on Android; I got the Supreme (I think it’s the ZTE Vital if you buy it from Sprint). I guess they call it the Supreme because it has a pretty big screen, substantially bigger than an iPhone (I compared it to my mother’s). Remember when cell phones getting smaller was a mark of advancement?

So far I just have on it my email ,a few social media apps that I actually use (Facebook, Yelp), a couple of games (Words With Friends and Mahjong Solitaire). Oh, and there’s apps for Etsy and Amazon, which is pretty convenient. And Pandora, if I want to listen to music and the batteries in my mp3 player have died or something. It came with Google Books, but I have my Tablet for reading so I don’t know if I’ll use that much. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll discover more as I use the thing. I’ve noticed most apps and games are free now, which is nice. When iPhones first came out there were all kinds of horror stories about people going app-crazy and winding up with a first phone bill in the quadruple-digits.

This is also the first cell phone I’ve had that has a really good camera (13 mp) so I started an Instagram account. I know, I was mocking Instagram as recently as like 2 weeks ago, but I’ve rethought that. I mean, it’s not like anyone’s trying to pretend these are photos shot with a vintage camera and cross-processed on expired X-Pro or anything. We all know they’re cell phone pics with filters slapped on them. I drive past a lot of weird stuff on my commute, what I think of “Louisiana stuff”: buildings that are just roofless shells covered in climbing vines, junked ice cream trucks, rusty water towers and grain silos. I wouldn’t have time to stop and take a “real” photo, but I can take a cell phone photo and share it with people. That, and photos of Hank.

It’s funny that I’ve lived to see this. Generation X is the last one that’s going to have real memories of a world where computers weren’t everywhere. I remember in… 2nd grade? 3rd? playing a game that I’m pretty sure was Oregon Trail on the giant beige box with green-on-black text that I shared with the entire classroom. And that seemed like such a big deal!