The art of appreciation, as taught by our phones

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| February 1, 2013





Message Failed!

Palm; meet forehead. What’s wrong with this phone?


Why isn’t it sending? Did I pay my bill this month?


Am I in a dead spot? It says I have service – and I did pay my bill this month!

Message sent!

Finally! That took forever! Stupid iPhone.

That’s a typical conversation that I might have in my head after just one failed attempt at sending a text message. Generally I’m a pretty patient gal, but when it comes to technology if it’s not instant it’s just a terrible device at that particular inconvenient instance. Why have we come to think this way? Has it always been this way, or have we been programmed over time to expect immediate response? Honestly, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t get frustrated when my phone took longer than I expected to respond to a task.

Unfortunately, my ungratefulness doesn’t end with message failure. Any time my phone lags, hiccups, or force closes I can feel a little bubble of anger start to fizzle in my head. My eyes narrow and I give my phone the “do-this-or-its-over” stare, which is full of nothing but empty threats (which I believe my phone now picks up on – thanks Siri). The longer it takes, or the more attempts I have to try, the angrier I seem to get. I have to remind myself to chill out, this is normal. No device is going to be perfect no matter how hard advertisements make it seem like it is.

Working at Sprint I realized I’m not the only person who thinks like this. I mean, I would have customers that walk in and before they could even describe what was going on they were already yelling at me for it. I remember there was one day that had a particularly long string of customers coming in because of some reception issues in the area. Nothing too bad; basically this issue just made it so that it would take a few more seconds to send and receive data. I was so flustered at how many customers came in angry at me before I even got to explain what was going on, and by the end of the day I didn’t even want to look at any of the phones in the store. We all had a pretty hard day and my boss, trying to cheer us up, showed us a clip of stand-up comedian Louis C.K. who had performed a skit almost directly related to the situation. He basically explains in the skit that some of us are so ungrateful for what these devices really do for us. They’re sending signals to space, after all – can we just give it a second?

If the stand-up weren’t so vulgar I would link the video for you - but since it is I won't. Honestly, the message opened my eyes a little (and I only say a little because I’m still ungrateful for my phone quite often) to just how underappreciated this technology is to us sometimes. If it’s not “the best” a lot of us just snub it off as unworthy of our time. BlackBerry and Windows Phone 8 get so much criticism for what it’s not but how many people take the time to appreciate it for what it is? Even I’m guilty of doing it.

Point being - and to use an overused phrase - let’s just keep calm and smartphone on. Also, take a moment out of your day to hug your smartphone and tell it just how much you appreciate the insane amount of things that it does for you, even if it’s just for the ulterior motive of hoping that such an affectionate move will increase your data speeds. Whatever works, right?