Sunday, September 19, 2010

What’s in a name? That which we call an iPhone, by any other name would still be a touchscreen

This evening I finally bought a new phone. And the only reason I did so, was my last phone was stolen (which in Singapore context means left behind in a cab). Before that I changed my age-old Nokia for a not-as-age-old-Nokia for a 2-fold reason

Reason no 1: Sanil said “Mama, you have had this phone since I was a baby. Since then Rose has got 3 new phones”

Reason no 2: Location- Asia Pacific conference in Bangkok. And I casually put my phone on the table. The Business Director from Korea very innocently asked “Is that a phone?” Yes the ground should have opened up and swallowed me.

When I first came to Singapore, I was a part of a conversation between 2 locals.

Local 1: “Wow. You spent 700$ on a new phone?!”
Local 2: “Yes it’s the coolest, blah blah technology, blah blah features, blah blah...”
Local 1: “There are so many better things you can spend 700$ SHOES!”

As an Account Exec, with a princely sum of 2300$ per month to my name, I did not really have much to offer to that conversation.

Cut-to recent phone loss. EVERYONE (including my mum) asked me if I was going to get an iPhone. Many assumed that I naturally would. And most others were most amazed to know that I would not be getting one. People sneered, sniggered, rolled eyes (all except call out a witch hunt against me). And none could decipher my motive...and yes I had a few:

a) I have zero hand eye coordination. And using the slide-unslide function coupled with the touch screen pad to write SMS...too traumatic

b) I don’t see the fuss

c) Sanil wud use it more than I would
d) I always have and always will be on the side of the underdog (in this case Nokia)

e) The most popular choice is never mine (case in point Shahrukh Khan, KJo movies and Titanic- for me its Aamir Khan, Anurag Kashyap movies and Shawshank Redemption)

f) Even my plumber has an iPhone- where is the damn cool factor that everyone raves about? How can something so mass, still be so cool?

g) I am the most untech savvy person I know. I use a phone to talk (gasp!) and SMS (I do embrace useful technology) and sometimes to take pix of Sanil

h) And frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

And I really hoped less people would care about the phone they owned, the car they drove, the house they lived, the school their kids went to and the number of zeros in their annual income.

Why do we use objects to define ourselves?

• An iPhone makes you cool

• A BMW car makes you hot

• An Armani suit makes you popular

• A LV bag makes you glamorous

Is that what it’s all come down to? I am not being philosophical or spiritual. And I am guilty of object-affection too. I don’t define myself through objects, but I let objects rule my life. Besides Sanil, what I love most in my house are my books (and my sofa). I am a location snob and can’t imagine myself living in parts of Singapore (or Bombay) besides a select few locations and I am prejudiced against people who don’t read. I use objects to evaluate my state of happiness and my opinion of others too.

One of the definitions of object is: something material that may be perceived by the senses.

It is material and it is simply perceived by our senses. We attach labels to something inanimate and then we further assign a value to it. And then we extend that value to the person owning (or in my case, it’s usually not owning) the said object.

Let’s try and break free from these shackles. It’s time to focus on the subject i.e. us, and give lesser importance to the objects.

So next time you meet your friend compliment her on her smile (instead of her dress), get impressed by your boy friend’s witty remarks and charming personality (instead of his new watch/bike/car), praise your neighbours cooking skills (instead of eyeing her new furniture).

Objects will always be there and it’s important to acknowledge, appreciate and be grateful for their existence. But when they take centre stage in our life, it’s time to re-write the script.

p.s. for the ones who simply HAVE to know, I got myself a shiny new Nokia C6 or is its C5- well what's in a name, right? ;)