Am I An iPhone Twit?

Back in May 2011, I entered the world of Apple products and smart phones thanks to my dad’s benevolence. In March and April, I had neither the inclination or the funds to get an iPhone, but by the time my renewal had come up, my father had offered to hook me up with an iPhone. Despite the Foxconn workers on my mind, I accepted the gift quite readily.

There have been many benefits to having an iPhone. They include having a 5 Mpx camera on hand at all times, being able to geocache with it, being able to check email from remote locations, etc. And I’ve not thought about the Foxconn workers for quite some time. Truth be told, my mind had become quite cluttered around mid August.

I have a Twitter application on my phone, and I began checking it quite regularly when I had a free moment. I watched the tweets from the Midwest Rising protests in St. Louis. It was like watching the news ticker at the bottom of the screen on cable news stations (FOX NEWS, CNN, MSNBC, etc.), except with more images and first-hand accounts. Weeks later in mid September, I observed the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street “occupation”. Some thought they wouldn’t last the weekend, but I observed in real-time as they sought take-out food and generators. They lasted not days but months.

Twitter and other web sites allow you to find news or stories that you would not normally hear in mainstream newspapers, television shows, or other media sources. While I did appreciate the ability to catch the #Occupy news in a largely unfiltered stream from primary sources, my mind was becoming cluttered from watching all these developments in real-time. Also, there became a great need to sift through crummy posts or free-riders who posted about the events just to receive personal attention or web traffic.

I broke my iPhone glass a couple of months back, and the fracture shook me from a daily existence that was getting somewhat saturated with smart phone usage. I pondered how much of an iPhone junkie or twit I had become. I go back and forth between being too desirous of the constant stimulation the Internet can provide and being content with moderate Internet usage. (What is moderate usage? Once a day? Weekly? Monthly?) A smart phone greatly increases the occasions for overindulgence by providing a portable access point for the data stream. It makes it seem archaic that Neo and Trinity needed to check out of the Matrix at pay phones.

Now that I have an intact phone (for free thanks to Apple) I’m asking myself again, am I an iPhone twit? My girlfriend probably thinks that I check my iPhone too much, and I agree with her in those times when I’m sacrificing engagement with the world in my physical proximity for the erratic stimulus of a digital feed. In the end, the smart phone serves me best when it is a tool aiding the rest of my life, not as an end into itself.

Through the haze of social media posts and game application notifications, I want to remember to be thankful and accountable to the FoxConn workers who put the phone together, the power company workers who facilitate the recharging of said device, and the people and living things that will be burdened with the eventual disposal of my iPhone.

Awareness: Is It Enough?

In attempting to develop the practice of love in our lives, I have said we will bend our ears to needs and injustice in the world. But is listening and becoming aware of things enough to move us act lovingly?

This is a very broad question, but consideration of it will affect whether or not our efforts at awareness of our fellow human beings might translate into us loving more fully. In lieu of Mike Daisey’s recent performances and interviews about the source of Apple products and other technological gadgets, I want to challenge myself and others to find out if we can be motivated to make any changes in how we live our lives by achieving a greater knowledge of how things are made and by whom they are made.

So, just as a small seed to grow in this knowledge, think about your cell phone. Who made it? Where was it made? What materials were used to make it? These pictures are specific to iPhones, but let’s just assume (for the moment) that they are similar to most phone manufacturing facilities. I am not aware of a cell phone on the market today that is made in a drastically different fashion.

The iPhones currently come from an environment at Foxconn that looks like this and is assembled and tested by people such as this worker. I’ve included a picture of her below.

iPhone worker

via markm49uk at MacRumors forums

Was she thinking of you when she worked on the phone? Probably not. Was the iPhone user thinking of her when she bought her iPhone? Probably not. It is really difficult to conceive of the other people involved in the complex patterns of our globalized economy. But what changes would we make if we thought of them (their wages, their families, their health plans, and their work) like we think of us and the people we know? Maybe awareness is not enough. But it could be a place to start, a window into our world.

Sites to Find Out Who’s Calling You (Or Not)

In a previous post, I mentioned one web site which does reverse phone number lookup. Since then, I’ve come across a few other sites that offer this service with varying quality. If you receive a phone call from an unknown number and you want fast, free results, consider my experience with the following sites:

  • White Pages Reverse Lookup – Of all the reverse phone lookup sites I’ve seen, this one is first place in my book. I’ve used it dozens of times and have almost always received useful information that is new to me. The results I’ve received are free and clearly presented with company names, addresses, websites, hours of operation, and individual names offered when possible. There are links for paid results available below the free results, but these are secondary and unobtrusive.
  • WhoCallsMe – I’ve used this site a few times, especially when I’ve received unsolicited sales calls. The results I’ve received do not usually yield as much information about location or other identifying factors as the White Pages Reverse Lookup. But they do offer lots of user submitted comments, which are especially abundant when a telephone number has been harrassing people. The other users’ comments allow you to confirm your experience with the number. For me, this was useful because it helped me decide whether I was receiving a call from a legitimate employment opportunity or a scam.
  • – In my experience, this site is not that great. Other than telling you the service provider, this site offers next to nothing for free. I don’t have any interest in paying such a high fee for information. In my few attempts with looking up numbers in March-May 2010, this site didn’t even bring up publicly accessible land line info!
  • – To me, this site looks terribly expensive. When you search a number, they tell you a service provider, but don’t even release publicly available information (as of May 2010). They seem to mostly be interested in looking official and roping you in to pay lots of money for their services.

In the case of the last two web sites, I can’t speak for the quality of their paid services. I was only interested in fast, free results about unknown callers, and White Pages and WhoCallsMe do a much better job of that.

Any suggestions of other sites which give you free reverse phone lookup results?