September 14, 2014

SHI | What Not to Lose in College

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By ANDREW SHI

I didn’t get a smartphone until college. My first phone is probably on display now in every history museum in Silicon Valley. If you’ve ever had a dumb phone before, you can empathize with my adolescence — which consisted of shouting at a frozen screen and battling the keypad just to produce a comprehensible sentence. I was convinced that I was missing out on something special that was going on around me, kind of like a benched player left on the outside of the huddle.

It was a sinking feeling, the fear that everyone was more and more hip and relevant while I was just disconnected.

Then I got the gold iPhone 5s, and it didn’t take me long to understand why the smartphone is so popular. For starters, it’s a faithful companion that offers company when you’re bored.

It’s the teen-tested, everyone-approved escape during an awkward silence. It’s always there for you, and even when it dies it’s not dead. Best of all, it just takes a single buzz or chime or ring to remind you that you’re being missed and wanted.

You don’t have to be a tech wonk to appreciate that the smartphone is truly a brilliant invention, from its state-of-the-art aesthetic exterior to its interior circuit-board loaded with nothing short of the universe to explore. Never have we been able to carry so much power in our pockets.

So naturally I felt totally powerless when one fateful morning I reached down and that familiar bump in my right hand pocket wasn’t there. I found workarounds to make it through the day, checking the weather by looking outside and being social by talking to people. Ah, people.

They’re the ones who are shamelessly terrible at predicting the weather and extending small talk.

They’re prone to give wrong directions, reboot often and demand your time and patience. They’ll even autocorrect you to your face and stay there for longer than 10 seconds and 140 characters.

My conclusion: Never make too many friends, because you’ll realize that they all deserve the best four years of your life.

Take a good look at your smartphone. Gorilla glass. Metal casing. Will it be okay without you?

Or a better question: Will you be okay without it, surrounded by unpredictably fragile and altogether imperfect replacements? It remains unclear whether or not you can Google the answer to this one.

Andrew Shi is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at as2589@cornell.edu.

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