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Gadgets Are Not Meant To Be Anything – A Response to Sage

by Mike Perlman | October 7, 2011October 7, 2011 11:30 am PDT

As I waded through Sage’s rapturous romance novel about owner and device becoming one in a naked entanglement of Gorilla glass and fingertips, I couldn’t help but magnetize to the preposterousness of the whole thing. All I could envision whilst hacking through the dense weeds of idealistic hyperbole was Sage and his naked electronic devices cuddled up in front of a roaring fire as he reenacted the scene from Jerry Maguire, cooing “you complete me” to them as they lay motionless upon the taupe shag rug. Mind you, I like Sage. He’s a good writer and most of the time he’s spot on with his grandiose analyses.

But not this time. It was clearer than a Windexed crystal that his argument was perched on exceedingly thin ice. I’ll begin with my first counter catapult, and that’s the fact that if everyone who owned a gadget left it in its birthday suit, then the element of originality would be tossed out the window and pancaked by a Mack truck in Wile E. Coyote fashion. Think of the monochromatic parade of 4.3-inch screened rectangular communication devices that would inevitably engulf the mobile landscape like millions of Agent Smiths from The Matrix. The soporific march of a gazillion bare iPhones would render us all true iSheep and prove an inherent lack of collective iMagination.

Look at it this way. How many performance vehicles have you seen on the road that are 100% bone stock? I’ve been riding motorcycles for 15 years, accumulating thousands of miles on the road and in the dirt with hundreds of other bikers. Out of the multitude of other riders I’ve ridden with over the years, I can count on one hand the amount who owned bone stock bikes. Exhaust upgrades, carburetor jetting, paint jobs, accessories, forged wheels, radial brakes—the list goes on. If you compare my bike to its stock form, you would not know that it was the same motorcycle— but it’s an improvement in every way. The same goes with cars. And bicycles. And skateboards. And skis. And snowboards. And lenses on cameras. And guns. And phones. And especially gadgets.

Big-Green-vs.-Thunderbike

My ZRX1200 bone stock on the left, Fully customized on the right

Anything that possesses the ability to be customized should, and rightfully will be customized, whether the motives are performance, aesthetic or innovation-based. The reason there are droves of gadget case and accessory manufacturers is that millions of people are willing to customize their own devices. From the guy with the New York Yankees case to the girl with the Hello Kitty sleeve—these modifications not only enable the owner to express themselves via a commonplace mobile medium, but it also sets them apart from the rippling stream of buttered monotony that is slathered across the technology croissant. As humans, it is our gravitational inclination to personalize, and by doing so we topple the walls of conformity.

Does everybody wear plain t-shirts because cotton was meant to be naked? Does everybody leave their hair the way it is after they roll out of bed because it was meant to be untouched? Does everybody refrain from buying key chains, stickers, patches, posters and other paraphernalia that attain to their likes and interests? Or should key rings, binders, backpacks and walls remain naked as well? Hell, why do we even wear clothes at all then? Even if you are narcissistically smitten by your beloved device with a zealous lust for its naked form, there is no reason to proclaim that everyone should evade their intuitive tendencies to customize and personalize their very own gadget. It’s their party. They can cry if they want to.

In fact, if you are a member of the Naked Gadget party, you should be happy that others are customizing the snot out of their phones and tablets! It makes your bone stock device all the more exclusive. Hey, that’s the guy with the naked iPhone! He’s unique! But if everyone in the world had naked iPhones, that guy would be a dime a dozen—another brick in the smartphone wall. And let’s consider this hypothesis: Certain modifications to a gadget can actually enhance its appearance. Take the Gasket case from id America. It’s an iPhone case inspired by the head gasket of a performance racecar cylinder block and it’s made from brushed aluminum. The front of the phone is untouched, all Apple logos are visible through the beautifully machined holes and the case comes in a slew of different colors. Everyone who sees my phone asks me where I got the Gasket case because they want it too. People want to customize—it’s the nature of the beast!

Gasket-POP-Phone

id America Gasket Case and Native Union POP Phone Accessory

Then Mr. Lane proceeds to talk about the structural integrity of modern phones and how cases are unnecessary. His advice is to rely on insurance plans and Gorilla Glass. While composing myself after a fit of tumultuous laughter, may I ask him what construction workers, engineers, welders, loggers, surveyors, road workers and countless other individuals with demanding jobs are supposed to do when their precious naked love toy cartwheels off the side of a backhoe and lands in a shallow puddle on concrete for the third time in a week? Phone insurance is not quite as sympathetic as car insurance. That’s what rugged cases are for. In fact, I have five of them sitting on my desk waiting to be tested, and I’m going to dedicate the review to Mr. Sage Lane. Outside of the fact that certain individuals are more calamitous than others, the easiest way to put it is that shit happens. The sun is going to come up today. The grass will be green. You will drop a phone at some juncture in your life.

Come on Sage. At that point in the argument you were grasping for straws in Cowboys Stadium with a blindfold on. In fact, you know that the entire post was ridiculous. It’s easy to stand on the soapbox and decree everyone should join the Naked Gadget party, but you should have at least fired off compelling arguments instead of making literary love with gadgets in the buff. I understand it was an opinion piece, but it was a weak opinion at best. From one writer to another, I still like you just as much. In fact, I have a Hello Kitty case with your name on it if we ever meet. But remember that individuality and customization are essential in any facet of life–they add more colors to the palette of the world.

You’ll change your mind after you look at that picture of my iPhone with the sexy Gasket case on it anyway.


Mike Perlman

Mike Perlman grew up in Nintendo Land and developed a relationship with all things electronic and nerdy early on in his childhood career. Today,...

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