Smartphones as sexual display

On one of my recent visits to NSW Parliament House on Macquarie Street the security guard who X-rayed my bag noted that while it contained plenty of Apple kit, such as my MacBook Pro, I carried a Nokia phone rather than an iPhone. “That’s because I haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid,” I replied. “Plus they’re all just tools for a job.”

Many people do seem to choose their devices more through brand identity than practical value. I was going to write more about that, but that renowned bastard Stephen Fry has beaten me to it. It’s all about sexual display.

When two businessmen drop down in neighbouring aeroplane seats and each gets out a smartphone an electricity will crackle between them like that between two sexually heated adolescents whose thighs have accidentally touched in the backseat of the school bus. If one businessman fishes from his shirt pocket a BlackBerry while the other gets out an iPhone a whole range of complex thoughts will begin to boil in the brains of each: resentment, contempt, insecurity and irritation are merely the emotions bubbling closest to the surface: deep down, dark and primal forces stir. We do not possess antlers, horns or tusks, we cannot display fans of feather or manes of fur, the best we can do is express our personality, aspirations, beliefs, outlook, sexual potency, status, right to breed and place in the hierarchy through the choices we make in our possessions: and no possession, here in the early part of the twenty-first century, speaks quite so loudly as our smartphone. Once upon a time it was our motorcar and in the future it may well be a robot, a rocket-pack or a hoverpenis that defines us, but for the moment it is, for good or ill, a smartphone.

Many women reading this will detect that the foregoing is an issue almost entirely for males, who remain the prime sufferers in this kind of tribal status war. My suspicion is that women are, if not immune, far less emotionally bound up in the business than men. I may be wrong and welcome clarification either way on this point.

I do realise that quoting Stephen Fry doesn’t make up for writing an original piece, but at least it means I’m trying to keep up to date with my writing.

9 Replies to “Smartphones as sexual display”

  1. What’s also interesting is how little many brands care about their brands. Read through Choice reviews and it’s extraordinary how often different models from one brand will pop up at the top AND bottom of a review lineup. There’s no consistency. Even brands that come from the same manufacturer, where they have a “premium” brand and a “value” brand often have the “value” brand beating the “premium”.

    We ended up buying one of the cheapest gas stoves available because Choice found less problems with it than ones that were more than twice as expensive.

  2. I’ve had an iPhone for just over a week now and the thing I agree with the most is “tools for the job”. Since I was buying a phone outright I could have gone for just about any smartphone. I went with the phone that seemed to have the largest selection off 3rd party apps, a large accessory eco-system, a relatively mature operating system and (possibly most importantly) a large informal recommendation network. After all, with so many iPhone-toting acquaintances, I will never want for advice on various apps and add-ons.

    I recognise that works for me. I don’t get why other people need to foist their choices on to others. I recall the shock and horror when you went with an N96 instead of an iPhone because you needed video (unavailable on an un-jailbroken iPhone). This meets a number of my needs like the Nokia meets yours. The day my needs are no longer met is the day I quite happily look for a new phone, which is as it should be.

  3. It may or may not be worth noting that the security guards at Parliament House NSW allow Nokia phones with a camera inside the building. Try taking a Nokia phone with a camera into a court of law and they will retain it until you leave.

    No security guard at Parliament House has questioned my choice of mobile phone and even when I attempted to point out that it had photographic abilities.

    BTW: On Tuesday the gentleman who convened the censorship debate at Parliament House ( involving Jim Wallace, Fiona Patten, Geordie Guy ) rang Prussia Net asking to speak with Stilgherrian (he believes the name Stilgherrian may be Armenian) on my suggestion, as he is seeking advice regarding the seemingly poor functionality of the “Fellowship of the Round Table” website.

    He can only be contacted in the mornings and lives in the Blue Mountains and although he knows how to use a telephone is somewhat lacking when it comes to computer knowhow.

    There should be a message on the Prussia Net answering system. I don’t know if you can help him, advise him or alternatively advise him of someone who can possibly analyse the website for inefficencies. Anyway he’d be pleased to hear from Stilgherrian as he regards anyone with one name as “unique” and “individual” and he likes people who are unique and individual.

    I have volunteered to attempt to assemble some speakers for a possible meeting at Parliament House in November (not censorship related).


  4. @Simon Rumble: Maybe it’s not so much a lack of care, but that the perceived quality of a brand — in terns of “value” versus “premium” — is rarely about the actual operational specifications of the product and all about how it’s being marketed.

    @Shane: As I’m sayin’, tools for jobs…

    @Bob Bain: The rules prohibiting cameras in a courtroom are interesting, given that our justice system is in theory open for everyone to see, so we can see that justice is being done. Personally, I don’t see why something which is in theory public cannot be made actually public by broadcasting to all. But that’s another story for another time.

    1. Stilgherrian. What happens in a court room is in my experience somewhat different to how it’s displayed in TV dramas. In practice there is little to see, hear or understand due to the fact that most of the evidence is found in written documents on a barrister’s desk often written in language that only lawyers can understand. In practice most of what is heard in a court room is gentle mumblings and passing of documents accompanied by several stages of negotiation and adjournments.

      Negotiation takes place outside the courtroom and only (in the final stages) is the magistrate (assuming a magistrate is presiding) presented with “the facts”.

      I believe you may be thinking of Judge Judy (TV series). Judge Judy (I watched it a few days ago) makes almost instantaneous decisions based on her perception of the body language of those taking part in this US drama series.

      I’ll also note that in the United States cameras are allowed into a courtroom but in a controlled manner.

      As you have been to New South Wales Parliament House you may have noted that the proceedings from “The Bear Pit” can only be viewed on a TV screen and that seemingly only those with special access can actually enter “The Bear Pit” due to the fears of those in the chamber regarding guns, bombs and explosive devices.

      It’s different in Canberra. There it is possible to watch debate in person (or at least it used to be).

      As far as court rooms in New South Wales are concerned the media cannot enter the court room foyer with camera equipment. They must stand outside and wait for whomever they have an interest in to appear.

    2. @Bob Bain: Nope, I’m not confusing it with TV at all, and especially not with the mutant justice project of Judge Judy. You’re right, though, that much of the proceedings in a courtroom is about written documents. I reckon those documents, too, should all be available — at least if they become part of the evidence. This goes to the very hart of a transparent justice system — whether any of the process is in specialist language or not.

      But, all this is way off the topic of the original post.

  5. Actual quote from some utter dipshit (hereafter referred to as Captain UD) I knew about two years back (talking to someone else I know) “~I~ have money, and ~you~ have an iPhone, together we make a complete man.” For the record, Captain UD had recently broken his iPhone in some typical I-don’t-take-care-of-my-things drunken stunt. I was tempted to chuck a half-full beer at his dome, but I knew it wouldn’t learn him none.

    Speaking as a person with lady bits, AND a person with a bit of gadgetry lust, I can say that I do sometimes experience a little bit of gadget envy, although more often it’s genuine curiosity now that I’ve got a fancy phone of my own. Wimmin type folks have entirely different systems to judge one another by, which can vary in severity rather wildly between different social strata. Handbags, hairstyle, general dress sense, shoes, makeup, etc etc. Shoe envy alone is enough to cause some severe awkward moments at the watercooler, let me tell you.

    Gentlemen: If phone oneupmanship is the biggest of your worries as a male, consider yourself lucky.

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