There I was: at the Coralville Ace Hardware buying a new toilet flapper.
I mean, how hard could it be? A simple rubber stopper. I kindasorta knew what it looked like. Big mistake not double checking the part, however. I was presented with no less than six different flapper styles.
Many, many years ago--back in the pre-iPhone stone age--I'd of been forced to either make the 15-minute drive back home or have the wife describe the part over the phone. In this instance, however, my wife simply took a photo inside the tank, emailed it, and I found the exact part. Terribly convenient, the iPhone is.
But, as I was standing there, new flapper in hand, my sense of cleverness was soon overcome by the nagging suspicion that, back in the pre-iPhone stone age, I'd of been better prepared. Instead, I leveraged the iPhone as a mental tool; a spare brain, if you will.
That said, I've read bits and pieces here and there on how we're shoving all our personal cognitive responsibilities onto smartphones--after all, why remember something when you can fit it on USB? The end result, however, is loss of mental agility and accuracy. And god forbid you lose your phone and the external neurons that comes with it.
Don't get me wrong: I didn't relish the thought of driving 30 minutes round trip for a second look at a toilet flapper. But, I'm still considering the philosophical conundrum of placing such trust on a pocket-sized device. Tool, or crutch?