Smart phone elitism is rather foolish
In American Psycho, ruthless Wall Street businessmen flash their version of ivory-crusted pistols: business cards. The small pieces of paper wielding their name and profession in different shades of off-white, with slight font variations, makes a difference in caliber â in quality.
In todayâs business world, the weapon that distinguishes individuals from one another is instead the cell phone.
Be it the hip iPhone, businesslike Blackberry or the media-driven Droid, the model of your phone and whether or not it has âsmartâ capabilities, including access to the Internet, e-mail and applications, can be considered the burgeoning determinant of an individualâs net worth.
This trend has thus created a strange and obnoxious cellular caste system that has created a fleet of people pathetically tethered to their mobile device, which carries with them an often costly data plan.
The fascination starts young, too Ââ countless college students have fancy phones in tow, sometimes not realizing that it costs around $30 a month for them to stealthily update their Facebook profiles during class. That adds up to $360 a year. Itâs a pretty uniform rate too, among basic data plans for Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T.
As they advance their careers, theyâll get used to having music, GPS and Facebook instantly, and both their peers and employers will assume they have that capability as well.
Even college professors have all but assumed that anyone whoâs worth anything has e-mail and Google on their person at all times. Employers expect those who work for them to answer urgent e-mail queries right away. Eyebrows raise in shock when someone has been in class for more than two hours and not responded to an e-mail.
Whipping out a clam phone circa 2005 will solicit guffaws from board members, ridicule from classmates and not meet the demands of an increasingly competitive workplace.
Marketers have sniffed a youth market in which many have grown accustomed to handheld smart phones. Windows unveiled the new Kin One and Kin Two phones this month, smart phones meant for the 15 to 25 demographic.
Itâs what Wired magazineâs gadget blog is calling âsocial-media-centricâ and has Twitter and Facebook feeds as its central feature on its egg-like interface.
Based on Windows 7 technology, the Kinâs distinguishing characteristic is that it automatically puts all of a userâs information, such as texts, e-mails and instant messages, onto an exclusive website accessible on more than one platform.
As young adults, do you really need a standing account of all of your tweets and posts â and to pay more than $300 a year to keep them?
And it wouldnât hurt to gain relevant information, say, from a computer. Or, God forbid, a book.
The practice of selling both expensive phones and expensive services (data plans) is simply unfair. Yes, the practice of selling a product in demand at inflated prices is a common practice of good old capitalism, but one must question the product itself.
Sure, there is no way to make every American buy a smart phone (the tiny processors can cost upward of $250 or more), but the data plans should not significantly add a lump to a cell phone bill or be a way of weeding out viable social or professional contacts.
The Internet is filled with useless drivel â videos of chubby babies, mindless Facebook poke wars and silly games. That kind of instant access to information that could make or break professional and social interactions is the kind of gold everyone should be privy to, such as the dictionary, GPS and e-mail.
The pressure to be able to extract information and directly communicate with one another at the touch of a button is appalling. There is simply nothing wrong with responding to an e-mail later than within the hour.
This culture reinforces our young generation with a total instant gratification problem. What will happen if they donât get or canât find something within the next five keystrokes? Being out of the loop of current information on a constant basis puts those with slimmer wallets at a distinct disadvantage in the workplace. And though money has always had an influence on success, the silly obstacle of not having an iPhone has nothing to do with work ethic or skill set, but rather the size, model and speed of a handheld device.
Perpetuating a culture that classifies its population by looking at whatâs at its ear, however, is just a petty exercise in what is electronic elitism.
Clare Sayas is a juniorÂ majoring in public relations. Her column âSpitting Centsâ ran every other Tuesday.