Love in the age of smartphones


Love in the age of smartphones

The universe lacks a person more devoted to their iPhone than I. Ever since my ex-husband insisted we change phone plans (we’re still on the same family phone plan to make it easier for us and the kids) to get iPhones my life has been transformed. That sounds a bit melodramatic and materialistic, but I derive joy from the freedom a smart phone affords me as a writer. I can record interviews, e-mail, text, and navigate with one tool that miraculously fits in my purse or back pant pocket.

As a person who is terrible with names yet must, as a journalist, keep up with a vast list of contacts, the contact photo feature is a godsend. I can take or upload a photo of people I need to remember and attach it to their contact information and that photo will pop up when that person calls (as long as that number is linked to them in my data base). iPhone contacts also lets me assign people ringtones so I have another way of identifying someone before I even look at my phone.

The custom ringtone is something that I give only to very important special people in my life, like my daughter, my son, ex-husband (it’s good to know when to ignore the phone) and certain good friends. So in this age of smartphone special ringtone technology, assigning a unique ringtone to a man I am seeing signifies that my feelings have reached a certain level of interest. It means that the man has become more than a friend and I want to know when he is calling separate from all other callers. That translates into status in Mary’s world.

A while ago, I briefly dated a man whom I upgraded to special ringtone status. I actually searched for the song and downloaded the ringtone (a first for me, all other custom ringtones in my phone are farmed from the iPhone ringtone list). Then when it became apparent that things were not working out for us, I decided his contact information should be stripped of its “special” status and changed his ringtone to my standard. I committed this act while standing in the checkout line at Whole Foods and in my usual fashion mentioned the act to the man standing behind me in line. He flashed a knowing smile and said, “A sign of the times,yes?”

A sign of the times, indeed.

Mary Burruss is a freelance writer and blogger who thinks moving to Charlottesville was one of the best decisions she ever made.  She writes about art and culture for pubs like Art Times, US Airways Magazine and Virginia Living, and blogs on and  Salsa dancing is the latest in a long string of her passions.