When I was growing up, back in the days when the living room was no for living but rather only accessed during guest visits) there was something called a cocktail table book. These were books or magazines placed on the coffee table to enhance the perception of the host. Rarely actually read, these were put out to indicate that the host was a particular type of person. Historical, architectural, arty, or otherwise the coffee table acted as a shortcut to understanding the image that the host was trying to cultivate. With today’s mobile fascination it occurs to me that our phones are the new coffee table and our apps the books and magazines.
The New Coffee Table?
While I will acknowledge that many of our apps are utility driven (facebook, bing, etc.) much of what fills up our phones are apps we have selected. The pages on our phones quickly become a carefully curated gallery meant often to highlight those facets of our lives that we want others to see. I can imagine that we could quickly pull together stereotypes based on bundles of apps. Cosmopolitan magazine will no doubt create a “what your apps tell a man” quiz. App profiling as a tool for hiring will no doubt be challenged in court in “Dance, Dance Revolution v. Acme Corp.”.
With our homes getting fewer guests how else are we to put on display our desired image? With the restaurant table now operating as the suburban cul-de-sac you can already hear elements of “keeping up with the Jones 2.0” in the need to have the newest or hottest app. you can display your elite status with your Mercedes E Coupe app or your Tag Heuer app. You can show your support for the arts with a Fine Art collection app or your favorite symphony’s fan app. You can show your rising music mogul side with any of the multitude of beat maker apps. How appropriate is it that in this time of tight money that we can now show our need for conspicuous consumption for only 99 cents!
J. Anthony Miguez writes about media, learning, music, and food. He currently has UrbanDaddy on his phone even though he does not live in any of the cities covered by that app.