Selling out

27 Sep

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OK. I admit it. I’m a massive sell out. I’ve abandoned my long term principles, and gone over to the dark side for my own, grubby short term gain. I fully accept the criticism that I’m bound to get from all quarters, but please remember, I don’t care.

That’s right kids, I bought a Nokia phone. First one ever.

What’s that you say? You don’t… care? Fair enough. It’s a fairly average purchase for a punter to make; they’re one of the most popular brands of mobile telephone, relatively easy-to-use, feature packed, and relatively inexpensive. It’s not the sort of thing a rational person would worry about, yet, as I was punching in the numbers on the Chip-and-PIN reader, a small part of me died. My 18 year old self was absolutely fucking furious with my 28 year old self.

You see, ten years ago, I really hated the things. Back then, you could just about do three things with a mobile phone – call people, text people, and almost surf the internet via “WAP”. Nokias, as far as I could tell, did the first two no better or worse than any other phone on the market, and didn’t do the third well at all. Yet, bizarrely, the things were ubiquitous. Every man, his dog, and their uncle had one. Turns out I was wrong when I said you could just about do three things with a mobile phone, the Nokias of the day had a fourth function – to annoy the living fuck out of me. “Look at my high score on Snake” they would bray, just before cycling through a series of 1980s TV themes that sounded like the background music off a Geocities web-page. If I may be blunt, these were not my phones of choice. Having gone through a selection of decent, low budget phones in the early part of the decade, I decided that there was no point in getting a Nokia phone ever, so I decided that I would never, ever buy one, no matter the circumstances. Not even if it was the only way to stop a particularly brutal phone shop assistant to stop poking me in the eye.

In the end, the reason I ended my self-imposed ban on popular Finnish electronic devices was far less contrived. My old phone died, and the Nokia E63 was available from the shop for a reasonable price, and had a reasonable feature set. It makes calls, sends texts, emails, does the interweb far better than its predecessor, and loads more. In fact, the only thing that put me off was the brand, and that pledge I had made as a kid. No Nokias. Was I really going to pass up a relatively cheap, decent, solid phone just because of some irrational hatred I harboured 10 years ago? No, though I won’t pretend it was easy either.

I mentioned, briefly, the themes of “selling-out” and “betraying principles” earlier on, because over the last few months, these accusations have been put to me for entirely different reasons; that as a supporter of the Liberal Democrats at the election, and as a continued supporter of the Liberal Democrats now, that somehow the party has sold out either “all” or “most” of its principles by joining a coalition government with the Conservatives. Upon further questioning, it seems that what people mean by “principle” is, in fact, policy. A principle, I would posit, is a guide, a rule of thumb, something which shapes policies, not defines them. So, as a man I know quite well at work asked me, “well, what about that VAT rise, eh?”. He then referred to the poster showing the Tories VAT bombshell. I replied that this was a matter of policy, not principle. The overriding principle of the Liberal Democrat involvement in the coalition government, I explained, is to ensure stable governance throughout this period of economic uncertainty, and to ensure that the poorest are protected. This is why, over the course of this Parliament, the coalition are seeking to raise the personal tax allowance to £10k per person, taking nearly a million people out of tax altogether.

I then turned the tables on him and asked, seeing as he mentioned principles (plural), what else he thought the Lib Dems had sold out on. Immigration, I was told, though in practice again, the temporary cap on migrants could be seen as a victory, not a “selling out”, for the Lib Dems. “What about civil liberties?” I asked. Probably shouldn’t have, as all I got back was a tirade on how cutting back on CCTV cameras will lead to the end of civilised society. “Point is,” I tried to argue, “that this is a principle guiding coalition policy that is still in place. Like fairness, like reforming politics for the better, making it more open”.

Then it struck me. The only “principle” he was taking about was the principle of not joining the Conservatives in government. I mean, that’s where the conversation kept heading. “Tories” and “ConDems” that. I realised that this was a fight I could not win, so I sat back, put my Nokia headphones in, and started listening to some music. “This phone really isn’t bad at all”, I thought to myself. In many ways, it’s a shame I didn’t get one before, but it’s better late than never. Once I’d looked past the branding and my inherent distrust of the thing, I found it worked quite well. Not only that, but by putting reason and logic above base instinct, I actually moved on.

I grew up.


One Response to “Selling out”

  1. James O'Gorman October 9, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    We all have strange ideas at 18.The Nokia E series really is quite good. But yes, all the others are still a bit shit.Isn't growing up a strange thing? You don't expect to still be doing it in your late 20s, but I'm learning that it never really stops.


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