Always On, Always Connected

When I leave the house in the morning, if I’m planning to take the subway, I often bring a magazine in case I get bored. But I rarely wind up reading that magazine, because I rarely get bored, because I always have my phone.

When I get home, I’m excited to open the mailbox to see if there are any messages. Usually the messages are bills or spam. But, at least once a week, there is a new magazine. This is exciting, but also troubling, because I rarely feel finished with last week’s New Yorker, and now a week has gone by, and I put the old news aside in favor of the new. I’ll to keep the old issues around for at least a few weeks, but I can’t archive them in my apartment like I archive old emails.

One of my favorite apps is Pocket, formerly Read It Later. Whenever I find an interesting article or PDF that I don’t have time to read right now, I save it to my pocket. It literally shows up in my pocket, so I can read it when I’m on the subway. But instead, I usually check my email or update the news on my nytimes app.

When I take the subway, I have a choice between the G train and the J/M. Whenever possible, even if it takes a bit longer, I take the J/M, because it’s an above ground train, so I can check the internet on my phone.

I like listening to music on my phone. But I don’t like to listen to the same thing multiple times. Every once in a while, I’ll load up a big playlist of music that is completely new to me so that I can listen to it later on my phone. Often, I’ll listen to the radio instead so that I don’t have to choose what to play. Or I’ll listen to podcasts, because there are always new podcasts to check out each with new episodes to follow.

Sometimes, I use my phone to make music. There are so many cool apps.

Often, I’ll download an app because it sounds cool, play it a few times, and never come back to it.

I use my phone to take notes. I used to send myself emails, then I set up an IFTTT hashtag to send those emails to the appropriate place in Google Drive, and now I mostly use Evernote. I use it for text, as well as for audio notes. I like to hum musical ideas into my phone, and the best ideas tend to arrive when I’m outside walking around, doing something. The best ideas rarely come to me when I’m sitting down, on a computer, or using my phone. But I’m always glad that I have my phone on me when the ideas show up!

My phone buzzes when it receives incoming messages. I have a Pavlovian response. I get the phantom buzz sometimes, too. My phone gives me the sense that wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m reading or listening to, there is always something better, and it’s the portal to that better world of infinite potential. Same thing with people, since our phones can connect us to anybody in the world instantly. So when hanging out with other people, whether it’s dinner or just a casual conversation, I try not to use my phone because this really signals that they are less interesting than the people who exist in the phone world.

I just got a new phone. My old one was 4.5 years old, and it was very slow. It took over a minute to connect to facebook, which is almost forever in phone time. The new one is fascinating. It has a better camera, and the camera loads really fast. It’s been one month and I’ve already taken over 500 photos. I can talk to it. It does this predictive text thing where it guesses three words that you might want to say after every word you type. I wrote about that when I first got the phone. I use it all the time.

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