By Marc Ives

I recently upgraded phones from a Samsung Galaxy III, which I’ve had for 6 years and was released in 2010, to an iPhone 8. Let me tell you: I learned things about myself.

My old phone couldn’t access most websites, couldn’t make calls without being as high as the second story, couldn’t download any app made after 2016, and my camera sucked beyond belief. Looking at pictures taken by my phone made my parents nostalgic, because they appeared like they were taken in 1979. Additionally, navigating anywhere was a nightmare, as my phone would locate my position and then my location on the map would slowly drift further and further away from where I actually was. Trips to new locations often featured me closing and reopening Google Maps five times if the location was 20 minutes away, and going anywhere new in the Twin Cities was almost impossible.

Yet the last days of my phone were ushered in by my phone’s inability to charge. My battery life slowly deteriorated, and I would have to finagle the charger into a particular position for my phone to actually receive a charge. The amount of time I spent finagling only increased as my phone aged. At the end of my phone’s life, I could spend five minutes at a time struggling against the charger trying to get my Samsung Galaxy to eat its food. Eventually it stopped charging altogether, and I realized, with great sadness, my days of texting people on a Game Boy Color with a wifi signal were over.

I now have an iPhone 8, and it is better in almost every conceivable way. But with this new phone came new insights. I realized that I miss my old phone for no logical reason, and I will look for the smallest weakness in the iPhone’s design and then fixate on it as if it’s a valid reason for concern. Currently, I can’t get past the fact I need to close applications individually instead of pressing a close-all button, even though I know it takes three seconds to swipe up on every app. I get that it is irrational, but it still irritates me. 

I started thinking about this feeling I didn’t know I had in a broader context, and I realized the protests going on across the country right now are at least partially motivated by this type of reluctance to change. We will get through this pandemic and it will be hard, but the world will be different on the other side, and Paul from rural Michigan simply can’t handle that. He has a routine. He goes to church on Sundays, eats at the same diner for lunch, does some maintenance around the house, and then watches TV before bed. Yes, there are many people protesting for their right to work, and they are struggling to get by, but there are probably as many people protesting against their lives having to change. 

Now, if a pandemic wasn’t going on, Paul’s reluctance towards change would be a mild annoyance. He would still have a flip phone and would bring up how America is losing its culture at the Thanksgiving table. I know because my dad is a Paul. But during the pandemic, Paul’s behavior can be deadly. Right now, Paul is still going over to friends’ houses to drink Miller Lite like he does every weekend, and he’s shaking every single hand there. Paul goes to the supermarket weekly without a mask, and picks up apples to examine them for bruises before putting them back. A month ago, I would make jokes about Paul and try to shame him into staying home, and I guess I still do, but now I understand Paul a little more because of my new phone. If I had to cough on every avocado at the supermarket to make my Galaxy III work, I would consider it. So this weekend, do something you love in honor of Paul, and then decide if you would continue to do it even if it puts everyone else at risk.

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