Generations of iPhones

Carrying around the past in our pockets

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Beth Cook is a dating coach who throws private dating events for San Francisco’s most awesome and unattached. She also writes and draws about her own dating experiences and would love to hear from you. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

When you’re updating your phone, don’t forget to update your life.

I just got my beautiful, thin, lightweight, white iPhone 5 in the mail yesterday—woo hoo!—and today began the arduous process of switching cell carriers and getting my new phone up and running. So far I've spent more than two hours on the phone, talked to four different decidedly un-technical “tech specialists,” and have finally been assured of a working phone in just a few more hours. Fingers crossed.

Before these trying conversations even began, though, I thought I'd better be sure to transfer all my contacts from my old phone onto my computer. Because like many of us now so used to dialing by name, I don't know the numbers of my best friend or boyfriend by heart.

I opened up my contacts file to take a look. Do I want to send all of these folks over to my brand new, clean, speedy little darling? The answer was a resounding "no."

Without even realizing it, I've been a carrying around a walking archive of the numbers of every guy I've dated over the past 10 years.

I've got the number of a guy I made out with in Las Vegas (Kris Canada), first dates gone wrong (Adam OkCupid, Justin OkCupid, and Ben New Orleans), short-lived dating experiences (Andrew Dance Party), and of course, guys who've turned into something a little more special and earned a real full name—the majority of whom I still never want to be in contact with again, real name or no.

As our busy, over-connected lives pass us by, we don't realize all of the useless—and dangerous—data we're collecting in our social networks, websites, and devices. The thought of accidentally butt or purse-dialing Andrew Dance Party gives me the shivers.

A friend once told me that you should only invite guests to your wedding that you want in your married life, going forward—that is, not the ones you feel you should invite because of who they were in your past. What if we made a similar rule for virtual updates? When we regularly update our hardware and software, we should also regularly update our contacts—the people who make our lives meaningful today. Call it a little Contact Cleaning, a way to remind yourself of who you want in your life, who matters to you, and who you can delete.

There's no need to carry around the past in your pocket. No need to accidentally dial someone you once kissed in Las Vegas, or worse, drunk dial someone you definitely shouldn't. Let’s all do a little life clean up as we move on, technologically and emotionally.

Happy upgrading!

Photo by Yutaka Tsutano