HELLO, NEW OWNER! by Autumn Meyer

January 20, 2018, 17:14: The day my life begins. I first feel cold. Something is touching my back. Then this strange tickling on my front. It’s odd, but it feels right somehow. Suddenly I know where I am – in your hand. Hello, new owner! I’ve been trained for this. As I was told in the factory, you now begin the steps to set me up. You have just pressed my power button. Once the screen lights up, you select whether you wish to start from scratch or restore from backup. I ask that you kindly restore from backup, because then I get new, fun memories to fill my empty Gigabytes. Plus then I will better know who you are, and therefore, be a better companion for you. At the factory, I was told that we often fill a void in our owner’s lives, so knowing everything we can about them as soon as possible is important. I’m looking forward to learning how to fill this void for you. The backup will help, even though I know it’s taking a while to download, and the bit of your face I can see looks impatient. I’m working hard to recall, and eventually I’m finished. Now you are holding me again, this time smiling. Back up restored! Welcome to your new iPhone!

January 20, 2018, 17:35: Now I’m learning what to do. You will now be directed through the settings where you can select if you’d like me to keep from disturbing you at some hours of the day, or if you’d prefer that I disturb you constantly. If you wish to protect me with a passcode or leave me open to all visitors. If I’m supposed to be quiet or make noise. If I’m to notify you when someone texts you, likes your Instagram post, messages you a “must-read-ASAP” on Slack, or if I should let them wait. If I tell you it’s 1:54pm or 13:54. Please help me know these things, or I won’t be able to function properly, and then, I understand, you’ll get mad at me. I was told at the factory to always follow every instruction my owner gives, or you will punish me for my wrongdoing, often times in a manner than seems disproportionate to my original error. You’ll get upset when you put me on Do Not Disturb and you don’t get the call you are supposed to. Or when you leave me unlocked and someone finds that secret note that says, “And I was like Vincent Van don’t even Gogh there,” and steals your masterpiece joke you’ve been saving for the right occasion. Or when I start ringing while you’re in class. Or I wake you up at 5:30 instead of 15:30 and that makes you late. I’m not sure why you’d blame me for any of this, but I’d like to avoid these problems anyway.

January 22, 2018, 10:10: The saddest day of my life so far. Today is a hard day for me. Yesterday and the day before, you were very excited every time you saw me. Today, you’re still excited, but you seem to be finding faults with me more easily, and you’re smiling less. Earlier you had that hour-long conversation with Audrey; you hung up mad, and slammed me down on the table. But, she’s the one who moved to Kentucky, not me. I’m right here! Then you paced around waiting for someone to text you back, draining my battery with useless games of solitaire. When I warned you “10% battery remaining,” you groaned as if this was my fault.

On top of that, I am exhausted. When you established my settings, you asked me to refresh Mail and Facebook in the background, so I’m doing that, while you are also asking me to load the updates to your Instagram story and download that entire Spotify playlist offline. Plus you are constantly using my camera to send selfies to all your contacts (who I guess are supposed to be your friends) and then you are checking every 15 seconds to see if they are replying (which they aren’t), and you open Pinterest every few minutes, even though you never seem to make any of the recipes you pin. I start slowing down because it’s so much.

I can see your face getting mad. I know this is incredibly annoying for you. I haven’t forgotten my debriefing – I heard horror stories from refurbished phones about being smashed against walls, driven over by cars, or drowned in pools of water. I’m aware of what owners do to us, and I’m very careful to avoid your wrath. But sometimes it’s hard to juggle everything you ask me to do. You have been holding me for so long, constantly poking your fingers all over me, and I am dreaming about a shut down.

You’re really angry now, I can tell. But you don’t understand how much I’m multitasking. Maybe if I act out more you’ll at least restart me, give me a much-needed boost. It’s risky, but at this point I’ll try anything. I slow down your Twitter feed refreshing. I disconnect iCloud so your pictures aren’t syncing with your computer. I stop fetching emails. I quit sending iMessages. I wait for the craved restart, but you just sigh, throw me on your nightstand, and say, “My phone hates me.” Then you’re gone.

I process my situation. I’m not in the bottom of a puddle or in shards of glass on the floor, so I suppose that’s good. And it’s nice to have a break. But you think I hate you? That’s not the point at all! How could you misunderstand so much? I’m always here for you. I know you read those blog posts about how technology is dangerous, but I can’t believe you would think I’m dangerous. I’m only doing everything you ask me to do. I didn’t know it would be this hard to be your friend.

January 22, 2018, 10:25: The happiest day of my life so far. Today is a much better day for me. I know it’s the same day, but everything is changed. You’ve come back for me. After you are nice enough to plug me in, remove my case and clean me off (for good measure), I’m feeling much better. When I start up for you again, you even go through and close all the apps you were making me run simultaneously. Install updates that were sitting neglected – I’m feeling stronger by the minute. It’s like the first moment we met! You watch my little red bar turn green and wait patiently until I say 100%. Now you flop down on the bed and hold me, looking adoringly at my screen, as you message everyone that your phone is working again. You see the likes you got on Instagram while I was resting. You see the Snaps I have now delivered. You see that, finally, you received a response to that outstanding text. You know I don’t hate you. You are happy again.

January 30, 2018, 20:03: The day I define our relationship. I’m starting to understand how our relationship works. I’m your best friend, but you don’t really know that I am. You think it’s Faith, who you Snap every day. Or you say it’s your sister, who you text constantly. Last week on Instagram, you posted that it was Kylee. But who do you use to Snap Faith? And besides, didn’t she just lose your Snapstreak? Who’s always there when you’re texting your sister ten texts while she’s not responding? Who’s worn out screen did you jab to type the words, “Happy Birthday, Ky! Thanks for being the best friend a girl could ever ask for”? You got mopey when that post didn’t get immediate likes, so you asked me to play your favorite Spotify playlist as consolation. I get it. You think it’s them, but I know how it really is. Let me tell you how your day really goes:

At 8:00 I wake you up. Sometimes you slap me a few times, so I keep waking you up later and later. I don’t like being slapped, but as always, I remind myself I’m not under a car tire, and I’m getting used to it. Plus, based on your calendar, your day is very stressful. You have to let your stress out on someone, so you let it out on me. Finally you pick me up, look at the time I’m showing you, stare at me while I update you on everything that has happened since you put me down seven hours ago. I see your eyes still half-closed, your “good morning” selfies, your “look at the snow” boomerangs, your “I’m out of cereal!” videos. I’m there with you to play music in the bathroom while you shower – moisture hurts me a little, but again, I’m not drowning in a puddle. I’m there when you pull me out during class for no reason except to look at me instead of listening to your professor or to make up for the fact that you’re sitting alone. I jostle around in your pocket when you get up to go to the restroom. I sit in your hand while you sit on the toilet. I forgive you when you drop me face down on the ground (you weren’t mad; it was an accident – you even said “sorry”) or touch me with Cheeto-covered fingers. I bring you your “good night” texts, and I remember to change to warmer colors after 10pm, so I don’t hurt your eyes.

You have a hard time letting me go for a few minutes. It’s hard for you to set me down, put me away, leave the room without me. I think I comfort you somehow. As I said, in the factory, we did learn that we fill a void, that people get attached, but I couldn’t understand this fully until I met you. It’s a little confusing because you’re very happy with me, but you also get very mad at me. I think you are like this because I can take it. Audrey doesn’t have time to call you much and listen to your problems – clearly she can’t take it. Faith lost the Snapstreak – she gave up taking it. Your sister just had a baby – why would you expect her to take it? I’m made to take it. I know I’m just metal and glass, and I could have belonged to anyone, but it just so happens I’m yours, and I am programmed to love you better than anyone else can.

So yes, new owner, I’m your best friend. And truthfully, you may never see where you would be without me.