I bought my first mobile phone when I was 18, the result of a summer of the world’s least cool teenage job. It’s a principle that I’ve always valued: the status of a gadget that I’ve earned myself. It’s a sense of pride that’s never left, from the heyday of the Nokia to the flip phone, the slide phone, and then the iPhone nearly a decade ago.
The subtle dopamine addiction is as powerful for us as any teenager. When I was their age my greatest electronic relationship difficulty was which romantic messages to keep when you could only keep 8 texts. Now, as an adult, I share the like of Instagram, WordPress, Twitter, the sense of being connected to my friends and the outside world with the ability to curate that image. Snapchat not so much, but I’ll keep at it. Smartphone use is reasonable and positive – if it’s in control and I know that it doesn’t define my closest relationships. The organisational freedom that Evernote, Nozbe, Outlook give me mean that I can manage the complex swirl of my daily life in a way that stops me drowning. My return to reasonable physical shape – a stone and a half lost since July with shape unseen since my early twenties – has come from my brain, but it’s been planned and tracked using the apps on my iPhone.
So the arrival of the new iPhone X has been a little shaft of light in a pretty grey-clouded autumn. It is heavier, smoother, classier than its predecessors. The screen is gorgeous. The performance is magnificent. It is a thing genuinely of beauty. But it also marks a new stage in the human story, a further figure beyond the upright Homo Sapiens in the evolutionary chart of our species.
How else could we encapsulate man’s evolution than to note that we’ve progressed to the point when I can send an animated Animoji of a turd singing the National Anthem? My son thinks it could be the best thing in history. Steve Jobs, your work is done.