This is the culmination of observation and interview-highlights of a 32 year-old
female (the wife of the writer of this essay) engaging her smartphone.
FACEBOOK, a social-media application (app, pluralized apps) monopolized the
entire hour of observation. It was checked at random intervals for no specific period
of time, however long it took to read an article or new post. The device was not
used to make phone-calls or for text-messaging. Her usage created dialogue (with
the writer) on current events and was not used in a manner as to disappear into time-waste
or mismanagement. Current events on FACEBOOK refer to, not only traditional news
articles, but also the postings of real people on her "friends-list" (people she
has met in person, then added onto her FACEBOOK page). One friend, in particular
(name withheld), posted about "age-appropriate slut-shaming", asking a varied question
about how old a female should be before a man can sexualize her and shame her for
"inappropriate" dress. His use of the word "inappropriate" was what he found to
be hyper-sexual in women's attire. The respondent followed this person for the sake
of reading such posts, which were always in antithesis of her belief system, based
on her life experience and feminism.
The following information was collected from "loosely-knit" interview questions
during the period of observation.
The respondent is part of an AT&T, APPLE IPHONE-5 plan that she shares with
her husband; they have matching devices although she asserts hers with a purple protective
case, while his is black, personalized with 2 stickers. She is of mixed ethnicity:
Apache, Portuguese, French, and German Jew; her husband is a Chinese-American with
a high probability of Russian ancestry on his mother's side. They have been married
(at the time of her observation and interview) for 2 years and together as a couple
for 8. She proclaims herself a "valley-girl" a "deep-valley-bitch", a product of
the affluent beach city Malibu and the area the San Fernando Valley encompasses.
The couple reside in Panorama City, both born and raised in Los Angeles County,
The IPHONE-5 purchase was a smartphone first for the couple, obtained when the
husband was working over-seas in Elsinore, Denmark. Communication became difficult
using laptops with the SKYPE program. Bad-connection during real-time communication
and immobility while messaging made "skyping" a tiresome task. The IPHONE provided
not only a better means of contacting each other, but also a creative outlet for
her interests in photography. Her IPHONE is mainly used as a camera and a photo-editing
platform. It is noted that with the use of earlier modern communication methods
(the telephone, emails, traditional letter writing, and postcards) maintaining a
long-distance relationship would have been nearly impossible; also with consideration
to the monetary savings the IPHONE provided. The husband worked in Elsinore for
over 8 years, 9 to 10 months out. She would live with him for up to 9 months anytime
during that period, broken-up into 3 month intervals. To further illustrate the
importance of the IPHONE's communicative role in the couple's life, they met 2 weeks
before he moved, becoming a couple during his stay abroad.
When the couple was separated, being on different continents, IPHONE-5 communication
was relegated to a symposium of apps which included text-messaging, picture sending,
and a special emphasis on FACETIME (a means of real-time communication, people can
talk to each other "face to face", on a video-monitor type setting). Traditional
phone conversations were brief due to over-seas charges. The apps were used to express
and maintain the non-sexual and sexual nuances of a relationship.
As a sexual device, the IPHONE's FACETIME app was used to coordinate sex in
a manner which his climax was achieved through masturbation while she provided a
sexually-explicit show. Although a participant as his source of sexual stimulus,
she had no interest in achieving orgasm simultaneously; instead using free pornographic
websites on separate occasions. Frequenting the site REDTUBE (search queries confidential)
once or twice a week, she was able to fulfill her sexual needs. The pornography
was viewed for its voyeuristic attributes (not specifically "voyeur" pornography),
rather than his use of pornography, in which he fantasized himself performing the
On a typical day that involved IPHONE sex, the role of foreplay would transpire
as texting sexual desires, known now as "sexting", and nude picture-sending that
did not include "dick-pics". The "foreplay" would unfold until a time for "face-time-sex"
could be established. Foreplay set about in this manner would not always result
in "sex" and would sometimes only be considered flirtation. Comparatively, the sexuality
of the couple did begin to mimic internet pornography, she became more sexualized.
Nude picture-sending of her body was frequent while his was seen by her only during
FACETIME interactions. The sexualized notion of her body coming to the forefront,
his relatively non-existent, is proof that the use of social-media does have resounding
effects on the way in which its users see themselves. Women's bodies have been methodically
used as sex-objects in western-culture.
When not in use as a sexual-device, their IPHONE's would fill in other gaps. Often,
the husband was unable to watch a new episode of a television show not aired in Europe
or unavailable for "streaming". He could watch an entire program on FACTIME, as
she would direct her IPHONE camera at her television; in essence watching T.V. together.
Eating meals was done in this manner as well. They could prepare meals with each
other and enjoy them together by simply aiming their cameras in any given direction.
Her history with photography is particularly interesting. The ease of taking
and sending pictures opened up a huge channel of communication. Her photography
can convey a larger story or emotion. The availability of this on an IPHONE lends
itself to an endless, rapid pace, so that dialogue in pictures is possible in greater
format. EMOJI icons (a collection of pictures and symbols that can be used the same
as letter-of-the-alphabet on an IPHONE screen-keyboard), became available during
the later-part of his stay abroad, giving text-messaging aspects of tonal-inclination.
These evolved from abbreviating a line of text with a "happy-face" (or any other
emotional-state) into texts containing only EMOJI's The icons were used for whimsical
expressions of love. The cartoon aspect of EMOJI's, lend a humor that can be understood
between their emotional interconnectedness; even when expressing negativity such
as anger and frustration.
The IPHONE hasn't come to degrade her life experience nor has she become dependent
on its functionality, it has become "just another tool to use". She reasons this
saying: " I was born and raised during a time void of smartphones, using them after
my brain was fully developed". At the time of the observation, 46 apps were downloaded
onto her phone. Only a few out of the 46 were used routinely, a means to find more
news, information, and the editing of her photographs. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW and
COLBERT REPORT apps, both liberally oriented, were the highest in usage. It was
rare for her to comment on the articles she would read, sighting "trolls" as a deterrent.
A "troll", by her definition, is an idiot who willingly makes inflammatory remarks
for the sole purpose of making anyone angry. She found "troll-comments" to be an
unnecessary cause of stress something she found indicative to ill-health.