Smartphones are quickly becoming a common item for everyone – even children these days – to own. And as some of us learned this Thanksgiving, as more family members and friends begin to take the smartphone plunge, they're becoming increasingly difficult to put away. It's nice to take a step back and disconnect from time to time. But it never fails; there is always one feature that makes me cave during an attempt to disconnect.
On a day to day basis, I use my smartphone from everything to snapping hundreds of pointless photos to share on Instagram and Twitter to looking up useless facts and information on Google or Wolfram Alpha. My phone never leaves my side, and I quite literally rely on it for everything. It is my lifeline, my constant connection to work, friends and family. At any time of the day, no matter where I am, I can receive texts, emails, calls or look up any information I could possibly ever need.
Truth is, however, I am almost always near a computer and within a few minutes of an open Wi-Fi network. Whether I'm at home, out in Charlotte or at the local coffee shop, there is always a place I can stop by for a second and hop on the Internet and check for any important emails or anything else I need that requires Internet. I could live without a cell phone with relative ease.
But there's one hitch. There is one feature of my cell phone I would find extremely difficult to live without. About a year ago, I quit leaving a fully loaded iPod in my car. And I quit taking the time to fill all of my phones with music. I'm a bit of a music addict and keeping up with what music is on which device is absurd and time consuming. So, I quit physically loading music on my phones. In fact, I've completely lost control of my music library. It's enough to make a person such as myself, who convulses at the sight of a disorganized digital music collection, pull their hair out. Thus, I now have a strong reliance on streaming music. It keeps me from having to keep tabs on my own music and allows me to play almost any song I can think of at any given time.
Some people call me crazy for paying for premium music streaming services, but it's totally worth it to me. It is my sanity while I'm sitting in Charlotte traffic or making the hour-trek home to visit with family.
Sure, I can stream Spotify, Pandora or Google Music via my laptop when I'm in a Wi-Fi area. But without a smartphone or a mobile data connection, I would be sitting through some slow-moving traffic with building road rage and only cheesy radio music to occupy me – by occupy, I mean it's likely to make me more angry. Music – anything but radio music, that is – is my balance. It's what keeps me from getting out of my car and using the tire iron in my trunk to bash the windshield of the idiotic driver's car in front of me. (Did I mention I have a slight case of road rage?)
Having virtually any song on hand, able to be played at the mere thought, has become a staple in my daily routine, and thus has become a large part in my in-car time. My reflection time. Take that away and things could get ugly. I could deal with no Google search, no Wolfram Alpha, no mobile access to Twitter, etc. But take my Spotify, Pandora or Google Music away and I'll start twitching and beating in windshields with tire irons in the never-ending stop-and-go traffic of the Queen City.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. My road rage isn't that bad. But we've become spoiled; we all have that one feature in our smartphones that we would find nearly impossible to give up. Mine is streaming music. What's yours?