Why I Love My Pre-owned iPhone 5S

Eighteen months ago, in CeX, Clapham, I bought my 5S. It was in fairly good condition – it was hard to find one without cracked glass somewhere – and it worked. It doesn’t overheat, reset itself too often or lose charge in minutes. 

In the seven years before the iPhone came out, I had owned perhaps 130 mobile phones. I’d buy one, trade it, put a little cash down and get another, again and again and again. Always searching for that novelty value, knowing anything more meaningful would never surface. It was entirely devoid of purpose. Then, all mobile usage was novelty for me. I didn’t really need to be texting and calling too often, I didn’t need to play any games and I have never been a big camera user. 
Then came the iPhone and in it’s effortless superiority, it killed the phone-changing game overnight. It also spawned an utter addiction in basking in its alluring glow for hour after hour every day. Instead of changing on a fortnightly basis, phones lasted longer, with the occasional switch to Samsung Galaxy or Blackberry models, until the newest one came out. My name was on that. At its worst, I had five mobile contracts at one time. Paying them off long after I’ve stopped using and sold the handset began to grate after a while. 
Those wasteful days resurface only as lessons learned, remembered with no shortage of bafflement as to what the hell I was doing. I need my phone more than ever now. I have used eBay often, and my 5S holds sharp advantages here over Android phones, let alone the dying Blackberry. It is a little quicker to use, and less prone to viruses, leaving me less prone to continually worrying my data may be stolen or worse. I use my 5S to write, connect meaningfully with people and log in to websites to reorder medication, check bills, engage with online banking and play two or three games I’ve had for years and still love. 
At the same time, the iPhone 7 and its derivatives hold no sway for me whatsoever. They may be a little quicker, a little bigger, a little more impressive looking if you like that sort of thing, but I’d much rather have the money saved and the knowledge that if my 5S goes wrong, it’ll cost a fraction of the £700+ an iPhone 7 would cost. The fear of smashing the screen would dissuade me from using it freely; rather than owning the possession, it would own me. Once gripped by the Diderot effect of spiralling consumption, I am free. I will never go back. 


Why I Won’t Be Hitting the Diffusion Sale Next Year: My journey into minimalism

Year upon year, high-end fashion retailer, Diffusion, has a sale. Prices are slashed as the metaphor runs, by 30, then 50, and finally 70 percent. Every year I go in, every year I spend up to £500 and feel pleased with my bargains. Then buyer’s remorse hits. You might know it well. It’s when you suddenly realise you’d rather have the money than the things you bought with it. Diffusion has a seven day exchange only returns policy. When your money is spent, it’s spent. I’m left with nice clothes but a bitter aftertaste of regret, wondering why I’ve done it again. 

Last year, I discovered minimalism. At first I thought it was about having as little stuff as possible. Whilst the challenge excited me, it felt pretentious and hardly aspirational. Over time, I came to realise it’s about having the perfect amount of things, things that you love, untroubled by clutter that you don’t. Within a month, I cleared out perhaps 80% of my things, mostly books, clothes, CDs and items I thought were useful despite the fact they were never used. The weight lifted mentally was immense. No longer did I have all of these things adding stress, reminding me of the money I’d wasted, of the greed I’d been a part of, and of the unspoken obligation to use them when I didn’t want to. They added pressure, not enjoyment. I was free to enjoy the things I loved, like a husband who’s renewed his wedding vows. A declaration of love to my surviving things: if I could do it all again, I’d choose you.

Then came January. Diffusion slashed those prices and I found myself inside. I bought an Alpha Industries jacket, the style I’d wanted for ages, at a good price. I may have spent a little too long looking at alternates but the right decision was made in the end – I loved it, I loved how I looked in it and it added value to my life. Days later, I couldn’t help but pop back in. The jacket was reduced again, £28 cheaper. Me being me, I saw opportunity. Return it at the higher price, buy it again and have £28 credit to pick up a tee. I didn’t. I bought another two coats and the credit turned into a loss of around £200. I regretted this as I left the cash register and realised I’d done it again. 

I was fortunate. The prices at which I bought enabled me to sell the three items online and actually make a small profit. I no longer wanted any of them; my knowing this type of shopping made me unhappy and doing it anyway killed the buys and the experience for me. I wanted to wash my hands of it. 

And so this reminds me that minimalism is an ongoing ideal to aspire to. It isn’t easy, but when you get it right for that moment in time, it’s utterly wonderful. After a purge at the weekend, I lie on my couch looking at the intentional living I’ve created in my lounge, with the sun peeking behind the clouds and I can smile. I’m getting it right today.