Now maybe this wouldn’t be a big deal to other people, but last Saturday, March 5, I dropped my iPhone at Vons and did irreparable damage. The backlight no longer works. Sure, I can make calls, and kind of read the screen, if I really squint, but it’s just not the same. Every time I look at it, I get a sinking feeling. My mom said it was like I’d lost a friend. Yeah, I agree, but not just any friend, a really good friend.
Yes, I’ve been to the Apple Store. It would cost just as much to fix as it would to buy an iPhone 4. But with the next iPhone coming out soon, I just can’t decide what to do. For now, I’m stuck with a phone that isn’t all that useful.
It got me thinking about our dependence on smart phones. I use it to get updates on athletic practices, answer work questions, and even edit stories if I’m out and about. I also have become an avid texter. Why bother having a long, boring conversation when you can get to the point. And I am into the apps. I have my Facebook app so I can check it whenever I want, and I find Angry Birds kind of amusing.
Contrary to what a lot of people assume, technophilia is not a condition shared by everyone my age. Many have embraced technology, but many try to steer clear of it as much as possible. I have friends who won’t use Facebook and dislike the idea of having to check their email every few minutes. Not me. I’m kind of an addict. You know those commercials, where the family members are texting and checking their emails at the table? It has happened.
Thinking about how technology had changed my life made me think about how it has altered the whole college experience, even since I graduated, which was not so long ago. A student who doesn’t have a smart phone might miss out on a great party, or be unable to email their last-minute paper to their professor. You can see students with phones everywhere you go in Isla Vista. They are chatting as they walk across campus, reading emails in downtown I.V., or texting as they ride their bikes down the street. (I’m not sure how they do it without crashing.)
While I know there must be some students—I’ve met one—who don’t even have smart phones, the vast majority do, and they are surfing and texting away all the time. Most have iPhones or Droids that are permanent fixtures in their hands. For some reason, I thought professors might have a rule about cellphones in class. Not so! A young women interviewed said that many students spend a large portion of their time in class texting. I can imagine. It’s hard not to answer that text.
Facebook is one of the main social media forums used by UCSB students. Instead of advertising a party by word of mouth, students can create an event on Facebook, invite their friends, and even send a reminder before the party. As seen by the Floatopia debacle, a Facebook posting can draw a huge crowd. There is another social networking site in I.V. in the works as well: A Web site called mysoapbox.org plans to offer a Facebook-type experience for the I.V. community. It will be interesting to see how this local group might change the social networking experience for UCSB students.
While the party scene has changed, so has student/professor communication. It’s no longer okay for students to grab their backpacks and head out to class in the morning without turning on their computer. Before leaving they have to make sure that their professor has not emailed them a last-minute handout they are expected to bring to class. While it might not be the end of the world to come to class without the materials, it would quickly get irritating to come to class unprepared. Or, you might not find out until you arrive that your 8 a.m. class is cancelled. And professors aren’t the only ones emailing students important information. The university uses email to send out things of school-wide import.
And while students continue to text, surf, and download new apps, it looks like its time for me to go shopping. My phone is among other things my telephone book, encyclopedia, GPS, and, yes, phone.