Sunday 11th March

| BY Natalie Dembinska

From The Issue: Adventures In Technology (Or How I Went Over To The Dark Side And Bought An Iphone) By Natalie Dembinska

TechyI bought an iPhone recently. My first ever iPhone. I finally popped my cherry, or should that be apple? Technically, you could call it my second smartphone, but does the eight-year-old BlackBerry that came before it qualify as a smartphone, despite also being named after a fruit? It depends on what you qualify as smart.

Is smart something that refuses to break, despite living out the last third of its life with an exposed battery because you lost the back somewhere and never bothered to replace it? Or is it something that takes a far more active interest in my health than I do?

Personally I’d go with the former suggestion as, to be honest, the amount of steps I’ve taken in a day has never been of a huge amount of interest to me. And as for the number of hours I’ve slept, I’m already fully aware that I’m an insomniac, and having this knowledge hasn’t helped me in my quest for a sleeping-pill prescription.

No change there, but some things do change and, if you don’t want to get left behind, there’s no gettting away from it: you have to change, too. Move with the times. Evolve like the monkeys did so they could become humans and claim their rightful place at the top of the food chain. Would we still be talking about Madonna if it weren’t for her gold grill, three-quarter-length fishnet leggings and the fact that her face has, quite literally, turned back time? Not that I want to change that much – I’m too cheap to splash out on 24-carat dentures.

But I have to admit that as much as I hate that temple of all things white and the sheer enthusiasm of anyone who is paid to spend time there, I did feel a slight frisson of excitement when I handed over my credit card and was instantly commended on my excellent choice of product, which had of course been chosen by me for the sole reason that it was the cheapest thing they sold there. Which also means that it was already six years out of date by the time I walked out of the shop, but who cares? Being relevant is overrated anyway.

And this is why, on the eve of the nine-month anniversary of me hooking up with my iPhone, I’m writing this ode to it and how it has turned my life into a living hell, which is something my credit-card bill likes to remind me of on a monthly basis.

Firstly, can someone please tell me how to unlock the screen so that it rotates again? I swear, for a brief moment back at the beginning of last March, it would flip around and I was able to enjoy YouTube videos that filled a whole screen not just the top half of it. Luckily, the damn thing is locked in portrait mode not landscape, otherwise everything but YouTube would drive a person insane, but still, where is the button to unlock it? There used to be one on the side of these things – at least, there was one on the side of my iPad, but I realise that’s a completely different yet essentially the same piece of electronic equipment.

So now I’ve spent nine months trying to figure this device out, and I’m going to put that down to a massive design flaw on the phone’s part, not my own talent for being massively dense. I’m tempted to go to the Genius Bar to see if I can get to the bottom of things, but trying to make an appointment takes too long and I live in fear of being laughed out of the shop. Which I will be. So I would rather suffer in silence than be exposed for living up to the colour of my hair.

Secondly, why does my computer ring when my phone does? The first time it happened the computer was in the kitchen and I was sitting on the loo with the phone – don’t you dare pretend you don’t take your phone into the loo with you – and I nearly fell off the toilet. Luckily, the cat was there to break my fall, taking, as he does, far too great an interest in my bathroom habits.

My phone is always set to silent, so what was this loud ringing that was coming out of nowhere and then suddenly stopping when the phone finished ringing? Was my flat being haunted by some ghost of ring tones that was trying to destroy the small part that is left of my fragile sanity so that it could take control of my mind and, without me realising it was happening, lead me to take an axe to the wall while rocking back and forth on the floor crying hot, salty tears?

To be honest, this did happen more than once before I noticed it was the computer that was ringing, which goes to show you how much time I spend in front of that machine. But still, how did this happen? What is this black magic that I didn’t sign up for? Why have my computer and phone joined forces to conspire against me? Why do they both have to ring when only one of them is actually being called? And how the hell do I get it to stop? I’ve silenced them both through my use of the mute button, but still they taunt me. Help. Please.

And now that we’re on the subject of black magic, let’s talk about the monitoring of my steps and sleeping. While I can just about grasp how that little white rectangle of torture knows how many steps I’ve taken in a day – who am I kidding? I have zero clue – and that I’m losing at the steps-taken-in-a-day competition quite badly (though we all know I was never going to win it – even if you haven’t met me, you know it), how does it know how many hours I’ve slept? I don’t snuggle up at night with my phone or sleep with it under my pillow.

So does it listen out for and monitor the strength of my snoring and analyse that? Or, the more likely option, have I been abducted by aliens and did they fit me with a microchip of some sort that, like my computer, is conspiring with my phone against me? To be honest, I did have a feeling that aliens may have interfered with me over the summer months last year, despite the lack of National Enquirer headlines pertaining to the sighting of unidentified flying objects, and I think I may have been right.

Also, why does U2 now exist on everything I own? Without me actually putting it there? Is it some secret evil plan to take control of the minds of the world’s population via the lyrics of Bono, in which there are subliminal messages that are slowly turning us into zombies while telling us that rapture is nigh, which will shortly lead us to all turn on each other, wiping out our entire human race in the process, so that it can be reborn as an army of gleaming white androids 10 years from now? With Bono ruling over us from a giant lemon? Could there be any other reason? Well, could there?

Candy Crush is the crack cocaine of our times. You may laugh, but it’s true.Ditto Angry Birds and that weird thing with the witchy cauldron (or maybe canon) that shoots those blue, green and red bubbles out from it. Candy Crush is also the Tetris of our times, but Tetris didn’t demand a credit card.

So yes, Candy Crush is, without a doubt, the devil’s juice, using happy-looking jelly cubes to suck you in and, once it has you in its clutches, it takes away all of your lives, before asking if you would like to unlock more for the low, low price of 99p.

Before you know it, you haven’t seen the light of day for a week, nor any food, and fresh air is a distant memory of something you once did. And then your email pings to alert you that an iTunes invoice has arrived. It would probably be cheaper to be an actual junkie than a Candy Crush addict. And better for your health, too.

Which brings us neatly to Tinder and my inability to use a touch screen for the purposes of swiping. Yes, for some reason, Tinder is also conspiring against me. Can you sense a theme building here? I open up the app, start to swipe and, without fail, that damn screen will freeze on some nude muscle Mary who has a gym locker room as his backdrop and only an elephant jockstrap to cover his modesty. This inevitably leads to me vigorously shaking the thing to unfreeze it, resulting in something that is called a “super like”. Which means that, so far, I have matched with five men who I am convinced have only matched with me because they are in the market for a beard to take home for Christmas.

And lastly, somehow, I have been subscribed to something called Apple Music, which keeps taking money from me and I don’t know how to make it stop. Don’t laugh. I have spent many an hour looking for an unsubscribe button and it doesn’t exist. Where’s Wally? Nowhere. I only found out that Apple Music exists thanks to my bank statement. It turns out we’ve had a longer relationship than I’ve had with most people.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The struggle is real. So if anyone has an old Nokia they want to sell, let me know. I’ll pay top dollar.

Taken from the latest issue of 10 Men, SHIFT, POWER, NEW, on newsstands now…

Text by Natalie Dembinska 
Illustration by Charles Jeffrey