Cellphone Biography, By: Nicole Merullo

In 6th grade I was tasked with walking from my middle school to the elementary school to meet up with my little brother so that my mom could pick us up. For peace of mind, my parents got both myself and my brother cellphones. They were not smart phones; they did not even really qualify as flip phones. The small, green cellphone, called a Migo, had 4 preprogrammed phone numbers and an emergency button. There was nothing exciting about it: there were no games, no texting, you could not even change the phone numbers without cracking a parent decided code. The best part was that I could change the ringtone. After I had it for sometime, my friend cracked the parent control code and put her own home phone number in and replaced my brother’s spot.

Through the rest of middle school I had the popular EnV phone and its subsequent generations. Those phones were a part of a trend of putting full QWERTY keyboards on phones which made texting even more popular, especially amongst tweens and teens. I was a texting queen. I expanded on friendships after school hours through texting and as texting evolved many of my social networks were perpetuated by texting in group chats, etc.
Sometime in high school I got my first smartphone. My family uses Verizon as a carrier and they had not yet started carrying the iPhone. My parents and I had various Android phones. I do not know what prompted me to stay with android phones after Verizon started carrying the iPhone but perhaps it was a sense of loyalty to and comfort with the operating system. It did not matter as much then that I had Android phones and many of my friends had iPhones. I was often late to getting a few apps, like Snapchat, when they were originally released on iOS and not Google. But besides a few incompatibilities I enjoyed having an Android and I felt as though I was on the cutting edge of technology (even though I was usually a few models behind the latest).
Many of friend groups/cliques in high school manifested themselves on our cell phones and on social media. We had different named chats for slightly different configurations of friends. We often knew about the groups we were not included in. Sometimes it was hurtful when I realized I was not included in something, but I knew there were just as many times that I was unintentionally (or intentionally) excluding someone. Having dedicated group chats with a formula of friends solidified social groups that may not have been quite so clear cut without cellphones. In some ways it creates a greater sense of visibility to outsiders and in other ways a greater sense of secrecy. I often wonder if those barriers would have been so apparent had cellphones and social media not defined them. Even in college now we still use these groups regularly to stay in touch and organize activities on school breaks.
Once I got to George Washington University almost everyone I knew had an iPhone. I felt very defensive of my Samsung phone. People bugged me about not being part of the masses and that texting me in green (non iMessage) was annoying. I never really understood this since it was just a color and not actually a significant problem. In fact, green is my favorite color so it would not have bothered me at all. Perhaps the only legitimate compatibility problem was that Apple made group texts with Android phones nearly impossible. I was always getting individual texts instead of in one group and the iPhone users could not name the group, which sounds insignificant but to them it was enough reason to leave me out of the group and just fill me in on details individually. I was a limiting factor and had to push to use other apps like GroupMe and Facebook Messenger but those were never good enough for my iPhone friends.
After an unfortunate and rather embarrassing incident this past summer (I was pulled down into a kiddy pool, it is funny in retrospect) I had to replace my beloved Samsung Galaxy S5. I finally caved into the pressure of my friends and even my parents. I got an iPhone S6. One of the most noticeable conveniences now is that I don’t have to carry my own ‘special’ charger around with me because nobody else has one. If I need to charge my phone on the go, I know at least one person I am with will have an iPhone charger. Sometimes I feel like I went against everything I stood for and conformed to the masses. I do not feel as though Apple is truly the most innovative company when it comes to electronics, especially their phones. What they do best is perfecting features other developers have invented. In the future, I will have to think carefully about which side I decide to be on. Will I switch back or stay with Apple?