Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that phone

I carry about me a self-indulgent belief that I possess a singular wit. Nothing massages my ego quite like the approval of a good quip. On quiet nights I like to spool through my Facebook news feed, pouncing on feeble status updates and un-humorous comments. Perhaps at this stage I should point out that I do indeed know these people in person, thusly this does not make me an internet troll. So, with that in mind, I swoop on my social media prey and wait for the satisfying “like” from my peers.

This week, however, I was knocked down several pegs and, seemingly, started a full-scale war. You see, I often forget that people aren’t like me. I have little to no interest in “modern fads,” I never really have. When I was growing up, society threw a lot my way and, really, I always found myself unable to keep up; Tamagotchi’s, Yo-yo’s, and many other things that I can’t be bothered to recall. There were then sub-classes of these various trends. For example if you turned up at school with a pet rabbit on your Tamagotchi then it was a form of social death akin to turning up with a Swastika tattooed on your face.

God forbid if you turned up with a Yo-yo which was deemed better than the one the hard kid had. Your selection of Yo-yo had a strong influence on how many beatings you would receive that week; choosing wisely was essential.

Then, at some point between 1997 and 1998 (our age-group was about 13) one boy turned up at school with a mobile phone. It was grey, boxy, aerial-clad, and had a flip-down face that would expose the keypad. He was an anonymous boy before, but that one object made him a truly revolutionary figure, much like Ronald Reagan. Over the coming months more and more of these portable communication devices began to appear. The epidemic became so great that the Head Master issued a letter stating that such devices were no longer permitted at school. The only way you were allowed to bring a phone in was to have your parents write the school a letter requesting it, with a doctor’s note confirming it was a matter of life or death (I am not making this up).

The school, much like King Canute, tried to hold back the tide, but it could not stop the wave of technological advancement, nor the insatiable beast that is cultural trend. Before too long the playground began to separate. Two great powers began to emerge; there were those who believed that the phone, and respective choice of handset, was indeed the key to successful courtship and a sure-fire way to climb the social ladder. They believed it would bypass the need to earn respect by being a decent person, and that their choice of phone would act as a one-way ticket to social acceptance.

Then, on the other side, there were those of a more indifferent disposition. They believed that the whole phone craze was just another fad and that in time it would soon pass. Being the boy who brought the football to school was enough to validate ones social position. Resultantly, an iron curtain came down in the school yard, and so began the Phone Cold War…

To this day the two factions continue to stand off against each other. Nothing speeds up technological advancement quite like a war. Gone are the days when a Nokia 3210 made girls look at you in the same way as they did Gary Barlow or Peter Andre – which I should point out to our younger readers was in those days the equivalent to Harry Styles and that other guy who all the girls seem to love. No, now it’s all about the iPhone.

The Nokia 3210 was like Little Boy, which was the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima; mechanical and clumpy, a known element that was feared and revered in equal measure. The iPhone is a far stealthier weapon than the old Nokia. It is more like a real modern weapon, an unstoppable force that cannot be silenced or destroyed; the internet. Owning one determines your social classification. There is no escape from the judgement of your peers. There is no escape from the constant threat of the iPhone anymore than there is the internet.

To make a joke about how some people, complete with brain cells and opposable thumbs, refer to something called iOS7 with the same veneration as liberals speak of the re-unification of Germany after the Cold War, is as alarming as a Vladimir Putin manifesto.

This week I made a joke about the iPhone-ists and much like the Cuban missile crisis I think I may be on the brink of all-out war. Clearly, the iPhone-ist whom I engaged was as humourless as a KGB agent during a screening of The Hunt for Red October. During the actual Cold War, anyone east of the wall who criticised communism was imprisoned. I was made to suffer the next worse final humiliation; no one “liked” my joke. I have taken a massive hit, but if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, if you seek liberalisation, tear down this phone!

Lastly, and relatively pointlessly, what the hell is iOS7 and why should I care?

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