The Gift & the CursePosted 25 August 2010 under iphone, technology
Last week, my sister and I took a road trip across the American southwest, moving her from her temporary home in Burbank, CA to College Station, TX for grad school. It was a great time — visiting the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and Carlsbad Caverns among several other destinations, and a lot of hanging out that we don’t get as much time to do as we get older.
We’re both happy iPhone owners, and we made heavy use of them on the trip. They got us all the way to Texas with next to no preparation, just a general route and a hotel for the very first night. From there, we pulled up our directions on the fly and booked our hotels hours before pulling into town, using Yelp and hotels.com to find the best places and prices. I didn’t bring my fancy Nikon, but instead used the Hipstamatic app to take vintage-looking photos that I could upload from the road. And the iPhone came up huge when I didn’t realize there were two airports in Houston, and had to direct us all the way across the city in order to catch my flight home.
On the other hand, I spent my vacation checking Twitter, a more-or-less harmless vice, though a few tweets did cause me a bit of heartburn. What’s worse, though, is that I’ve got my phone connected to my personal and work email accounts, and couldn’t resist checking those, as well. I was able to catch a server outage and restart it with my sister’s laptop, so that’s a win by some definition, but at what cost? There were a few occasions where we needed to book a hotel, but the signal wasn’t strong enough to reliably surf the web, leading to several frustrated hours that would have been avoided by booking these things in advance.
I know this is the mother of all white whines, that the supercomputer in my pocket is removing my ability to disconnect from my rottenly spoiled life, but it strikes me as remarkable what an overall neutral force technology was on the whole trip, despite how many aspects of the trip it touched. If I could do it again, would I leave the iPhone home? I’d love to, but I’m not sure I could.