Monday, November 16, 2015

The bite into the forbidden fruit

Today marks a significant milestone in my life. It marks the first week since my transition from digital wasteland, to digital wonderland. It’s been 7 years since I last bought a brand new mobile phone, and my last phone attest to the suspension of time. The Nokia E71 was the vanguard during its times, but is now a vagabond that is relegated to a relic. It witnesses the rise of the smartphones, and the fall of the very company that birthed it. Its strength lies in its tenacity, but now even tenacity is tenuous. In the era where endearing is more important than endurance and where form and function triumph over durability, I have decided to take the leap of faith and foray into the foreign land. Nestled precariously in the palm is the portable device that opens the portal to the virtual universe, and welcomes the wanted and the unwanted.

What are the wanted? Ah – the wanted are aplenty. Firstly, I was granted both anonymity and acknowledgement at the same breathe. Anonymity because my device is merely one among the countless ones carried and cradled by strangers on the trains. For once, I failed to feel the momentarily sense of awkwardness that comes with the realisation that there is none other phone like mine. However, that sense of awkwardness was replaced by an equally uncomfortable sense of acute awareness – when I realised that people recognised my phone as the one plastered on walls.

Iphone 6s Plus. Rose Gold.

It blends in, yet it stood out.

Another wanted feature was its ability to anticipate me. It could read my thoughts before I formed them. The screen was filled with tiny boxes that showcase more ideas than I could even think of – the camera app jostle with the communication app for my attention, while others wait patiently in line to be noticed. Yes – I do notice all and try them out – eventually.

The last wanted feature is how it change the way I communicate and experience the world. In the old paradigm where there were emoticons instead of emojis, and emotions are expressed through a limited permutations of : ; ) ( p in only single shade of black – one cannot possibly capture the spectrum of feelings and convey them to others. In the world where symbols, words, pictures and sounds are weaved together for a holistic experience, Whatsapping becomes an intensely engaging exchange. Moreover, this device had the ability to expand and encourage positive habits. I was embarking on the journey to track my expenditure, and magically there were apps appropriate for that activity.

Such wondrous experiences! Is there anything that one possibly not want? Yes. The ambivalence of whether you possess the possession or the possession possesses you. I never had to be so keenly aware of my phone – till the day I got the new one. The past week was a harrowing game of hide and seeks. Where is it? Is it there? Check. Check. Check. The material constraints were immaterial when compared to the nagging issue of materialism. Did I make a wise decision in purchasing it? Were it meant to fill genuine needs, or to fulfil the crass desire of having materialism materialised? Although it allows the proliferation of positive habits, I can envision how it exacerbates the evils of negative habits – to use it excessively, compulsively, addictively. The dilemma is, do I control the device, or is the device conditioning my responses? The numerous functions forced my mind to adapt to its high expectations. Gone were the days when I could safely single-task – protected and secured from the surge of activity due to the limited functions of my old phone. Now the entire universe is laid out before my eyes, and when I try to see all, I see none.

Perhaps that’s what Alice saw in Wonderland. Illusion and disillusion. Enchantment and disenchantment.


That was what my wife wrote when she recently got into the iphone craze. Asked her why she wanted to get an iphone when she isn't even interested in IT and gadgets, she said she wanted to experience it. It's interesting that while I am trying to unwind myself from being too attached to expensive phones (I'm using mi 4i, btw), she's upgrading to high end phones. It's about $800+ with the plan. Much how is $800? Well, she'll experience it now. I also told her to write about her experiences in switching from a  '2G' phone to a '4G' phone.

There's an interesting thing which I had observed. When one uses an iphone, it's not just the cost of the plan and the initial cost of the phone that we had to pay. The cost of all those paraphernalia are usually not counted in. As an example, a tempered glass screen protector can cost up to $50. A hard 'armor' hand phone casing can cost another $50. You can buy an insurance plan for the phone as well, for another $8/mth. All these are the hidden cost of owning one of the most coveted phones in the world.

I guess you don't just buy a phone. You buy a lifestyle of paranoia in owning a piece of expensive gadget too.

It's not all that bad. She bought a personal finance app to track her expenses daily now, and she's more up to date with opinion articles from news agency, which in turn generated lots of interesting focal points when we discussed what went on in our day. So the bite into the apple isn't all that sinful, since it also brings with it a byteful of knowledge. Life's full of irony, LOL


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


When I read it's rose gold, I was wondering isn't that a bit "gay" even for a butterfly?

Oh! It's pretty mei mei writing. Ha ha!

I was still using the Nokia 6230i until last year when I finally upgraded to the realm of smartphones with a hand me down Apple 3GS from my sibling who took pity on me...

Most popular apps used are:

Clock - tell time
Calender - what day is today?
SMS - same old same old
Calculator - counting up till 21 with my fingers and toes is my limit

I'm a laggard when it comes to IT.

But then, I don't have to bow down my head when I walk or take public transport ;)

la papillion said...


Haha, it's not my blogging voice for sure :) The language is too flowery even for my own taste lol And yes, i'm not showy so pink gold is not for me :P

I think smart phones saved me a lot of money. I used to sms students, and it's just impossible to discuss about their question using sms. With whatsapp, it opened up a whole lot of avenues for students to contact me, so I think it made my services a little better. Oh, not to forget setting traps when stock price hit my alert lol

I make it a point not to use my phone when taking public transport too. People watching is more fascinating than candy crushing or facebooking haha

Rolf Suey said...


I am using rose gold also! Gay is good..happy man!

Its incredible to know how long u guys hold on to the same phone. So sentimental! hehe.....

While I do changed phone, it was never once, when I changed because I wanted to upgrade. It was always because it was not functioning properly and time to change! Oops... seems like the average life time of my phone is always 2 yrs plus!

Sillyinvestor said...

Hi LP,

No lei, actually I feel your wife write like u ( or you write like your wife) lol ( both write with prose style peppered with literature spices)

I keep thinking :"What is the second message between the lines that LP is saying?"

Oh well, ends up its a agruementative essay than prose LOL

Impressed! I made the switch 5 -6 year ago and iPhone 4 was te latest but my first. Then I become addicted to it.

It's addictive!! But my wife and I are adicited

Dividend Knight said...

Hi LP,

After reading ur article, I am glad to be vested in the telcos. :P

Enjoy your new phone!

la papillion said...

Hi Rolf,

You too? LOL

The same happens for me too. I usually change phone because it can't be used anymore. Usually after 1.5 yrs, I can see signs of problems already. There was a period of time where I changed every two years because I can. I tried not to do that now. I think it's a waste haha

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

Really?? My wife will be disappointed to hear that..she always thinks she writes better than me :)

After nearly 2 weeks, my wife seems very well adjusted to the phone. There's a few good things and a few bad things. The good is that she is consciously keying in her expenses. I see that as a good start to manage her finances. The other good thing is that we whastapp each other more freq and she whatsapp her mum more too. In the past it's just sms or call, but with whatsapp, the range of communication (emoticons, pictures etc) is widened. The bad is that I've to tell her to stop looking at her phone too often! LOL

la papillion said...

Hi DK,

HAHA, I totally's defensive, pays good yield and is a tripolistic monopoly (possibly tetrapolistic hehe), so what's there to dislike? :)

Btw, it's not me who got the phone. It's my wife :)