MML Jasmin: The Cost of a Smartphone Addiction

This week I dropped my phone. Let’s be honest, I drop my phone at least once a week. I’m clumsy and phones are slippery, it’s a dangerous combo. My phone has survived it’s weekly dropping for two years, but this was the death drop. My first major concern when I figure out my screen was no longer functioning was, how am I supposed to get up for work in the morning??? No, it wasn’t an existential question of whether life is worth living without a smartphone, but instead a decidedly more practical one. How does one wake up without an alarm clock? After rigging up my laptop with several online alarm clocks, I fell into a nervous sleep. After (miraculously) waking up on time the next morning, I was finally able to face the reality of the situation – I was going to have to buy a new phone. Bummer.

The next day after work I drove around and figured out my options. My first stop was Apple, where they told me it would be $129 to replace the screen. Next stop was my service provider, where they told me it would be $99 to replace my phone with insurance (which I thankfully have). These were both reasonable and affordable options for me, but I thought I might as well look into a new phone. This is when things got crazy.

Thanks to the latest release of the iPhone 6 upgrade, I was hopeful the original 6 would cost less. I’ve had my 5c for exactly 2 years, which meant I was ready for an upgrade (or so I thought). It used to be when you signed a contract with X cell phone provider you received your iPhone at a major discount in exchange for signing a 2 year contract. If the iPhone retailed for $500 you got it for $250 or $99 or something. It worked the same way when your two year contract ended. You were then eligible for a phone upgrade. Sure it hurt to throw down $250-$99 for an iPhone, but you knew you were getting a major deal. This is no longer the case. This time when I went in and said, “Hi, my contract ended, I’m ready for my upgrade,” they said, “Great, you can get the iPhone 6 for just $18 extra on your monthly bill for the next 24 months.” I didn’t have calculator (no phone) and I’m terrible at math so I borrowed a phone to do the math (I’m not proud of this). My immediate reaction was, “Hold up, I will be paying $432 for this phone????” The savvy salesman was like, “No, no, you only pay $18 a month.” I’m not the most intelligent person, but I could see what was going on here. No thank you.

I chose to replace my phone for $99 through insurance. They gave me a slight upgrade to a 5S, but it was a refurbished phone so I’m not sure it was much of a win. In the comments of my last blog post a reader accused me of making decisions in the present that will come back to bite me in the future. She is right. I do that all the time. Should I suck it up and pay to have the surgeries this year? Should I have bought a brand new car so it would be less likely to break down? Should I just buy the more expensive phone because (in theory) it will last me longer? I don’t know the answer to the first two questions, but I’m pretty sure the answer to the last question is NO. I don’t care about technology. I’m a luddite at heart. I always will be. Sure, I’m addicted to my smartphone but not because it has 3D/thumbprint/retina scanner/words-I-don’t-understand technology. I’m addicted to my smartphone because it helps me streamline my life. I can get where I’m going without worrying if I’m going the right direction. It helps me do simple math because I studied to pass math, not remember it, in school. My phone helps me remember what I need to buy at the grocery store and what appointments I have later today. I just need a phone that works. Maybe I’ll regret this decision in a year. It’s possible I will, but for now this was the cheapest option to get my life back in order. Plus, we all know these phones are built to die after a couple of years anyway. That’s the thing with addictions, it doesn’t matter how jacked up the system is, you keep buying into it because you’re hooked.

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