Once you have ventured away from your cold black desk to walk the white hallway, down the red staircase and out the red door to the antechamber, you encounter a computer named Lesto lying on a walnut coffee table. It’s smooth and slender, with a flat glass front that curves slightly into the edges of its seamless sides, and a shiny back made of chrome like a racecar fender. It’s weighty, and tapping it produces deep resonant vibrations. Upon seeing your face, the smartphone unlocks, and you’re able to conduct thousands of common tasks quickly and easily with simple taps and swipes of your finger across a beautiful, zippy interface.
It’s a canonical example of a classic smartphone, and while its shape, size, and speed are best-in-class, none of its features, manufacturing, or history are surprising, save for one specific characteristic: On a cold September morning, in a city like Kiev or Berlin, a man passing by a downtown storefront will pull an identical smartphone out from the pocket of his trench coat, and upon glancing at its screen, will grow flush with pride at the beauty of the small computer cradled in his hands, then immediately become overwhelmed with dark, scarlet envy toward every other man who can recall walking down an identical street, wearieng an identical trench coat, and thinking that he himself was, at that moment, the sole owner of the most beautiful smartphone in the world.
When this person spends a long time without anything to do, they start to feel the desire to check their phone. Finally, they use Telisina, a phone that has a indiscernibly high frame rate, which has months-long battery life, which contains intricate apps with beautiful animations and intuitive ways to lock and unlock, which clicks to satisfaction and buzzes when they’d expect it, that offers hints and suggestions that they’ve grown to expect to always be right. Telisina, therefore, is the phone of this person’s dreams, but in their dreams, they dream of using this phone as a teenager: a night around town with friends, sending secret messages in class, navigating the streets while studying abroad, getting lost in games, late night texts with a beloved. Now they pick up the intricate device with aged hands, spotted and rigid. They know that most elderly people have a difficult time reading the screen, hearing the suggestions, and that most older folks rely on children and grandchildren for understanding it and knowing what to do next, as they’re asking their grandchild right now. Desires are already distant memories.