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Stats & Data

December 07, 2011

This a short story about cigarettes and iphones. Which one has more utility? And is it worth giving up smoking in order to afford the monthly data package?


Cigarettes and Iphones: Which has more utility in the modern world?

With the analog apocalypse and yearning for a simpler time aside, I am still reluctant to purchase an IPHONE.  Until my recent epiphany my biggest gripe was the price.  AT&T offers an unlimited text, calling, and the smallest data package for 75 dollars month—who has that kind of money?  Then it hit me, I spend that sum (roughly) on cigarettes every month.  If only I could just burry my addiction to tobacco I could easily become an IPhone owner.
           Now I know it may not be proper literary form to assume what the reader is thinking, but I’ll assume most of you are screaming “EASIEST FUCKING DECISION EVER, put down the cancer sticks” as you are reading this.  But what I am suggesting to you is that my concerns run much deeper than just the price—it’s actually my skepticism about giving up one for the other. So it has come to this: before I assume the role of an IPHONE owner I must fully hash out what I will be gaining by the purchase and what I will be giving up.

Stylistic Liquidity
          Much like a woman recovering from a self-esteem boosting boob-job right at the peak of ovulation (leading to an unexpected pregnancy), the decision to purchase an IPhone is going to take some precise timing, planning, and a little bit of luck. Monumental purchases always have unintended consequences if the timing is off.   The problem with purchasing technology is that the marketplace reinvents itself too quickly.  If I wait for the price of the IPhone to drop, I will be stuck with an old model.  If I purchase the phone too soon I will spend a ton of money and deal with a bunch of preliminary software bugs.   
If I purchase an IPhone I am going to be locked into that purchase and the brand identity that is associated with it. The opportunity to develop a unique identity amongst a sea of other IPhone owners is difficult because it is expensive to do so.  The only way I could distinguish myself is by purchasing an array of accessories.  If I start to think like this, I know I am in trouble:
??“Maybe I’ll go with the green case today, or perhaps the red one.  Screw it the fourth of July is coming up, where is my red-white-and-blue case? The one with strategically placed rhinestones in the shape of stars that captures the very essence of my patriotism.
Ask any pubescent child who has ever tried to ease the social aggravation of wearing braces by periodically customizing their teeth caps to reflect the current holiday or their artistic angst.  The verdict?  You can’t accessorize something that is socially repulsive into being acceptable.
            It’s much easier to alter my cigarette smoking habits to reflect my current feeling.  Camel lights are my baseline brand but my purchases alter depending on my mood.  If I am feeling especially frugal, I’ll roll my own.  If I am feeling cash saturated, I will throw down for some Parliaments. Because cigs are so cheap (relative to the IPhone) and quickly consumed, I am able to adapt my brand to fit my current need. (ADVANTAGE CIG)?????
Social Worth
I’ve been smoking cigs for about 14 months so I feel like I am able to speak on the behalf of habitual smokers. Yes cigs are expensive and yes they are bad for your health but let me remind you that they used to be a perfectly acceptable social norm.  I use cigarettes for a variety of things but I think it’s most valuable use is to connect with other people and also myself--in reality.
In today’s social world, we have become progressively numb to letting our guard down in the physical because of the Internet and its omnipresence. When I see someone smoking a cigarette outside of a public place, I feel an instant connection with them because they are openly advertising something about them self that I can easily identify with.  My hope is that the conversation progresses beyond just talking about cigs or the weather but our shared interest is the catalyst to that opportunity.  IPhones on the other hand prevent this type of connection because users are always buried in asocial world that exists somewhere beyond the immediate present.  I fear that by replacing cigs with an IPhone I will lose many opportunities to spark organic conversation.
             Cigs also provide an escape from awkward social situations.  Whenever I find myself in a place where I lack confidence or there is a great amount of tension, I am able to step outside and collect my thoughts with a cig. If I tried to step outside and collect my thoughts for five minutes without a cigarette people would think I was nuts.  The same concept applies to public places with lots of people—if I were to just stand around without appearing busy, people would instantly discount my social worth.  A cigarette puts me at ease.
The IPhone could solve much of what I just described of course because anytime I may be feeling frightened, alone, or awkward, I could just bury my attention into the digital abyss of entertainment that my phone provides.  The difference is that I will not be reevaluating my situation and looking within myself for answers but rather leaning on the social comfort of my phone.  An IPhone is a means of extro-spection and a cigarette is a means of introspection. (ADVANTAGE CIG)
Ability to consume:
The utility of a cigarette has been marginalized by legislation preventing smoking indoors.  This is probably for the betterment of everyone, but it limits where and to what frequency I can smoke.  The hurdles to consumption provide me with a feeling of delayed gratification which only makes the cigarette that much sweeter.  There is nothing better than a smoke after a long hard day at work.     
As an IPhone owner possessing the power of 3G and a fully charged battery, I could theoretically consume whenever possible.  Indoors, outdoors, in a car—Hell I could even surf the Internet hands free during sex thanks to SIRI technology.(ADVANTAGE IPHONE) 
Social Taboo
I used to look down on people with smartphones because they always seem pre-occupied with validating what they are doing in terms of what the rest of their social-sphere is not doing (thank-you Facebook status updates) but the presence of smartphones is so wide spread now that it is completely acceptable to do so.  I often find myself referencing someone’s twitter update or Facebook status during a real conversation and the moment passes without criticism.  We live in a digital world and being perpetually attached to the digital dimension is completely normal.
Cigarettes, on the other hand, have regressed in terms of social acceptability.  They stink. They kill. They are completely taboo.  Whenever I meet a new group of people or hang out with someone for the first time I Fra-breeze the hell out of my car and I try not to smoke in front of them in order to avoid judgment. Being a closet smoker is becoming progressively difficult and time consuming.  At my parents’ house I migrate towards deciduous shrubbery when disposing of my butts in order to avoid the criticism they will offer up when the leaves fall of the trees.  
In the middle of writing this paragraph, I stepped out for a cigarette in front of a coffee shop and a man driving a gas guzzling Chevy 4x4 slowed his truck in the middle of the street just to yell “SMOOOOKER!” at me, as if I had just exhaled a vile toxin into his precious air. (ADVANTAGE IPHONE)
Perception from Law Enforcement
I’m obsessed with petty crime or at least getting away with frivolous acts.  Some of my favorite past times include jay-walking, stealing range balls, and texting while driving.  There is a fine line between someone who is texting and driving and simply changing a song on their IPhone.  
As an IPhone owner I would relish the opportunity to trick law enforcement of the latter.  I imagine that if I were to be pulled over by an officer I could simply hold up my IPhone and say “sorry sir, there must be a misunderstanding, you see I am an IPhone owner and I was simply trying to shuffle my playlist. “
The officer’s look of disgust would quickly turn to envy at the misunderstanding. At that point I would toggle over to my apps page and show him my police radar application to service his ego. “I’m a big fan of your work sir, some people listen to the radio, but I enjoy listening to police calls.  He’ll laugh and ask me what I pay monthly for the phone while simultaneously motioning that he would like to give the interface a try.  I will direct him to the shotgun application and let him aim it at cars passing by and we’ll have a big chuckle.  The life of an IPhone owner must be sweet. 
            Recently I’ve been hand rolling my cigarettes (to save money) so to the eyes of a skeptic they may appear to look like joints filled with schedule 1 narcotics.  Although I am sure I could convince the same officer that his “reasonable cause” for pulling me over was just a big misunderstanding, I can’t imagine the post-pullover-chit-chat would be nearly as inviting.  (ADVANTAGE IPHONE)
           Transitioning from once vice to another is always tricky because I am forced to make a decision that compromises my immediate identity, paving the way for my future being.  But sometimes I just know when a change is needed, and I need a change.
            Cigs, or the IPhone?  I think my analysis has led me to the inevitable decision of becoming an IPhone owner.  The IPhone may cause my social skills to regress 15 years but in the end, I suppose that is better than losing 15 years of my life to cigarettes. 
             We had a good run “Cigarettes” but being able to showcase a flush Angry Birds scorecard, complete with 3 stars at each level has become just as much as a conversation starter as you ever were.