I have an odd memory, in that I remember every small detail nobody cares about. I know that Hilary Duff’s first two studio albums are called Metamorphosis and Hilary Duff, and I know that track 7 on the former is called The Math, and that it was co-written by songwriting team The Matrix. (I also know that it’s awful.) More ridiculously, I know the name of the person who directed the Chow Yun Fat abortion that is Bulletproof Monk.
These are totally useless things to know and remember, but that’s my only real value. I offer little to conversation otherwise, unless you see noticing when somebody gets their hair cut as something valuable. Basically, I’m that guy who solves your stupid arguments over who played Elaine Robinson in The Graduate, or who played Elaine Benes on Seinfeld. Naturally, I hate smartphones.
What iPhones and Androids and other computers that are smarter than me have done is eliminate the value of people like myself. People with good memories that choose to remember shit like which movie features both Paul Newman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio might not add anything important to your life, but we’re good for bar conversations. That’s kind of all we’re good for. Smartphones take that away; now people just Google things, and the problem is instantly solved. Now, this probably leads to a certain amount of added precision and correctness in these arguments; never again will somebody who argues that Chris Cornell is the front man of Pearl Jam ever be accepted as correct. He or she will quickly be proven wrong, unless it’s a situation where nobody else actually cares and everybody just wants him to shut up. And while it sounds insanely egotistical for me to argue this exclusively because it makes me seem less valuable in drunken conversations, there has to be a reason that makes this legitimately bad.
While I think smartphones are generally a good thing, I don’t own one. This is very much because of monetary reasons, but I know my current six-year-old phone is on its last legs, and I will probably end up getting some sort of smartphone when I have to replace my vaguely intelligent but ancient Sony Ericsson. I hate that this will happen, but it will, and I know what it will mean when I get one. I won’t spend a whole day racking my brain trying to remember that John Mahoney was the name of the guy who played Frasier Crane’s dad. I’ll just look it up immediately. This will make my day of running errands less stressful, but it will also make my brain more vacant.
As I was trying to work this problem out, I ran through the name of that show’s other cast members (Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, Moose [he played the dog], etc.) until I eventually remembered Mahoney’s name while cycling through the cast of Say Anything. I don’t particularly care about Frasier or Say Anything, but at least I was using my brain while trying to figure this out. Soon enough, I’ll immediately pull out my phone, solve it in thirty seconds, and continue on my venture to purchase Pop Tarts and chicken fingers. I simply don’t have the resolve to not pull out this phone if I had it; even upon returning home I used my computer to find out whether or not Mahoney is dead (he’s not, but Moose is).
Smartphones make everything quicker and less strenuous, but I’m going to miss that about these problems. I feel like I will stop remembering these things simply because I have no reason to anymore. And that’s kind of the only thing about me that adds a lot of value to a conversation; I’m more of a listener than a contributor to most discussions. Detractors tend to say that technology makes us less human, which I don’t necessarily agree with. I won’t be any less human when I have a smartphone, but its value will remove mine.