I’m a proper old school geek. I’m not a cool hipster geek. I don’t drink my coffee out of a jam jar (not unless I’m presented one during a visit to Shoreditch). I used to wear those terrible 70s NHS brown glasses, often with a bit of sellotape holding them together. Now, it’s cool and hip to wear them. My geekiness consisted of owning many different personal home computers during the 80s and 90s, generally not talking to girls and enjoying reading sci-fi, fantasy and horror books. My geekiness also stretched to technology in general.
Before smartphones and tablets became common as muck, technology used to be much weirder. I owned a number of portable multimedia players, these large silver boxes of various sizes were the portable TVs of the upcoming digital age. Except they were often not very good, very slow, heavy and anything but cool. I also owned many mp3 players before anyone had even heard of an iPod. Some were as small as a cigarette box, others as large as a Sony Walkman. I loved buying the latest weird gadgets, usually shipped over from Hong Kong or China taking 3 months to arrive (by which time they’d usually been superseded by another newer piece of gadgetry). Much as I loved all of these weird and wacky gadgets, my thirst could never be quenched.
As the noughties settled down and we all became more familiar with the internet, our speeds to connect to it jumped up from the old dial up days to having broadband in your home. How many of you remember Ask Jeeves, AltaVista or Lycos? These were all the search engines before Google took over the world. Even in those early 2000s technology was still very much for the geeks.
How many of you could work an old style broadband modem? You needed to have a degree in electronics, so many wires and buttons and having to dial in to your PC. No wonder the internet was still only really used at work because all the IT department dealt with all that weird maguffins. I can’t tell you the number of man hours I used to spend staring at my screen waiting for the word ‘connection successful’.
And then as the noughties got closer to the 2010s something rather weird and wonderful happened.
The year was 2009 and having used a number of Nokia phones and trying to get to grips with a Blackberry (and failing miserably. Damn my stumpy fat digits), I decided to try this new iPhone 3GS that had recently been launched. Up to this point the only Apple products I’d used had been the iPod touch which I found unnecessarily fiddly and annoying. I’d also used many Macs for work and I always thought they’d make the worst home computers.
I don’t need to tell you how the iPhone changed my life, because I soon realised it completely changed the whole landscape of technology and how we use it. Up to this point, talking about smart phones was definitely the remit of Stuff magazine and the more geeky websites. Then all of a sudden iPhones were everywhere.
The most amazing part was that there were just as many women as men buying them. In fact, now women are more likely to own an iPhone than a man. I can’t explain this phenomenon, it’s probably to do with Apple having an excellent marketing strategy, launching phones that looked cool and worked really easily. I’ve always joked that the number of people who own their smartphones and probably use less than 1% of its processing capacity. These phones are powerful beasts.
How we all use our phones is the equivalent to meeting Stephen Hawking and asking him if he knows his 3 times table.
Most of the women I know now have an iPhone. They might have dabbled with other phones from Samsung or Sony. But sooner or later they will get an iPhone. Everyone uses either WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the hundreds of other apps that keep us entertained, whilst the phone just looks up thinking ‘all this technological power I possess. I can control so much, yet they just want me to post another pouty selfie to Instagram. How humiliating.’
I admit I still get hugely irritated when I get a shout from my wife or daughter “My phone’s broken. It’s not doing XXXXXX”
I sigh inwardly and curse Apple for the thousandth time. Thanks Steve Jobs for bringing technology to the masses. Now everyone is basically 3 seconds away from a total meltdown.
MY PHONE’S BROKEN, HELP! I CAN’T CONNECT TO THE INTERNET. I’M MELTING. MY EMAILS NOT COMING THROUGH. I’M SHAKING. MY PHONE HAS GONE BLACK. I CAN’T CONNECT. CANNOT COPE. H. E. L. P.