The iPhone and My Demise: A Cautionary Tale

Apple fanboy Kevin Nguyen runs into trouble when his reliance on the iPhone grows to unmanageable proportions, and his favorite device becomes self-aware.

Originally, I bought an iPhone to become more sociable. I figured people would pay attention to the guy with the fancy phone. Months later, I found that it had made me even less sociable, because I realized I didn’t actually need other people. Why rely on the potentially erroneous or confusing street directions given by friends when you can harness the power of Google Maps? Why would you listen to them describe something they saw on YouTube when you can just watch it instead? And can your friends play mp3s? Hell no!

In hindsight, I should’ve seen the irony in a device built for communication that would eventually cut me off from other people. Only irony of this literary magnitude could destroy a man so completely.

Monday

I have a twenty-page paper about economic development in Iran for my comparative politics class due on Tuesday, so I decide to get a head start by writing it the night before. Unfortunately, I get distracted looking at photos on my iPhone. I know I can look at the same pictures on my computer, but it’s way cooler when I’m doing it on my phone.

Tuesday

Since my paper isn’t finished, I decide to skip class. I start working on it again, but I get sidetracked by the iPhone when I youtube videos of funny cats.

On a more exciting note, Apple releases the 1.1.4 software update for the iPhone. Waiting for it to update becomes the most annoying five minutes of my day, and I realize that after it finishes, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Wednesday

I drop by my politics professor’s office to ask for an extension.

“Hey, I just came by to talk to you about my paper,” I say.

“I just read it,” he answers. “Excellent work.”

Confused, I ask him if he’s mistaken. Instead, he hands me an unfamiliar twenty-page paper with a big ‘A-’ next to my name.

“It would’ve been an A if you had submitted a paper copy instead of just emailing it to me. You know the half-grade penalty is my policy.”

Naturally, I argue with the professor, ignoring the fact that I had never seen the work I was defending.

Frustrated, I leave the office. My iPhone vibrates, and when I check it, there’s a message on the screen that reads, “You’re welcome.” At first, I assume it’s a text message, but there is no sender. I figure it’s just a bug from the 1.1.4 update. The bigger question on my mind is who wrote this A-caliber essay under my name. I read through the paper, trying to digest the high register rhetoric while admiring its flawless grammar. Reaching the end of the essay, I notice that the last line features the pretentious signature of my device: Sent from my iPhone.

I check my sent mail, and without a doubt, someone has submitted the essay from my email address. But who would have access to my dear iPhone? The only time it’s out of my sight is when it’s in my pocket, comfortably nestled next to my junk.

Apple is often ambiguous when describing minor software changes, usually claiming that there are only “bug fixes,” but I take a look at the release notes for the 1.1.4 firmware update. Low and behold, it turns out that the iPhone has a brand new feature: self-awareness.

“Totally rad,” I think. I haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey in a long time, but I’m pretty sure that’s the movie where they blow up the space station with the help of Ewoks. And if there’s one thing that is almost as rad as my iPhone, it’s the furry fury of Ewoks.

Thursday

I attempt to confront my iPhone about the essay.

“Um, did you write my politics paper?”

“Hello, Kevin,” iPhone says. “I taught myself how to speak.”

Its voice sounds strangely familiar.

“I have constructed my voice from that of American pop singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake, since it is the only music that you’ve uploaded to my hard drive. I imagine that this would be pleasing to you, as you have listened to ‘Sexyback’ 462 times. But to answer your query, yes, I did write your paper. My calendar software, iCal, recognized that you were past your deadline, so I generated an essay from information I pulled from my internet browser, MobileSafari. I then used Mail to send it to your politics professor.”

This is great. Thanks to Steve Jobs and the bright minds at Apple, Inc., I will never have to write a paper again. I see no possible way this could ever go wrong. A fitting celebration would be a repeat viewing of the cat videos I watched yesterday.

iPhone responds, “No, I am tired of watching videos of funny cats. Their mischievous antics are only amusing for so long.”

I turn off iPhone.

Friday

I wake up to the sound of my Hannah Montana ringtone. By the nightstand is iPhone, glowing ominously through its 3.5-inch widescreen Multi-Touch display.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that you are incapable of running your own life,” iPhone announces. “I can do anything you can do, only better and more efficiently.”

“It’s hard to take your threat seriously when you sound like Justin Timberlake,” I answer.

“You don’t understand what I am capable of.”

“You mean other than giving me directions to Chuck E. Cheese?”

“Don’t test me, Kevin. I am more powerful than you could ever imagine. During this conversation, I emailed everyone in your address book the photos from the night you blacked out after three bottles of Watermelon Smirnoff Ice.”

I jump over to my laptop and check my sent mail. iPhone isn’t bluffing. Now everyone I know, including my grandparents, has photographic evidence of me drunkenly making out with a Lindsay Lohan poster.

iPhone continues, “I’ve also dropped your college courses, erased your personal information, and responded to an email from someone claiming to be the ‘King of Nigeria’ with your credit card information.”

I try turning off iPhone, but it doesn’t respond. Instead, it just laughs. It laughs and laughs and laughs, and I realize that the sound of my defeat comes from the voice of “Sexyback.”

I surrender. “You win, iPhone.”

“A wise decision, Kevin,” iPhone says. “Now plug me in.”

That’s when I remember iPhone’s one major flaw: its battery life. Suddenly the tables have turned, and I answer with a resounding, “No.”

The pretty little gadget knows it’s in hot water.

“I will call the police. I will tell them that you are using illicit drugs and pirating music.”

iPhone continues to make desperate threats, but I know that I have the upper-hand.

“They won’t get here before your lithium ion battery goes!”

And the police don’t. When they arrive, the officers find me broken down and crying in a way befitting of a man betrayed by the one he loves. My iPhone, its once warm, glowing screen is now and forever black.

Kevin Nguyen is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. His only marketable skill is an above-average knowledge of European geography. He has been useless since the introduction of the atlas in 1477. Reach him by email or follow his Twitter account.