“You will so love it.”
“Once you get used to it, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.”
“You WILL have this. Just admit it and get one.”
“It will make your life so easy.”
That is what everyone has been saying to me for the past few years about their smart phones. You know, the appendages that stick to their hands and face? The reason no one talks to you or says hello? The appliance that keeps people from realizing that they are walking into fountains, that every stranger in the store now knows their business, that their kids are running into the street and … yeah, I’m exaggerating, but only a bit. Only that last one.
I have a phone, an older model about an inch and a half wide by three inches long. It fits in any pocket, even those silly little fake pockets. By iPhone standards, it is almost mechanical. It rings, I push one of a dozen buttons. The buttons depress. They are not button icons on a screen, but real buttons. I know how to use that phone, even if I do hiss obscenities at it occasionally.
No more. I have been gifted an Android and my service was transferred. I must use the new phone.
It’s very sleek but it doesn’t fit in my pocket. When it rings, I fumble to answer and push the green button on the screen repeatedly, but the phone keeps ringing. At me. Taunting me.
Sometimes it spits. Blrrrrrt! That could mean anything: I could have a message, a calendar event is imminent, a stranger wants to play WordCrack. Or something else entirely.
R2D2 made funny noises too but they were cute. We understood him. This Android is an alien tease.
I spent an afternoon entering phone numbers of friends, and they’ve all disappeared. Instead, every person who ever sent me an email fills up my contact list, but none of them have phone numbers.
I can’t tell when the battery is low because the icons on the top of the screen are too small. Maybe those icons would answer all my questions, if only I could see them clearly.
Those of you over 30, remember when we all started buying phones? The rationale for such a purchase was safety. We weren’t going to use the phone; we just wanted to have it in case the car broke down on a deserted highway and we needed to call for help. Now I’m not exaggerating. That was the selling point in the 90s. Get a phone; you’ll be safer.
No one got a phone so they could be tracked down by their office 24/7. No one got a phone to play games or keep calendars. We just wanted to be safe.
Shall i let this rude but charming flirt of a phone run my life? Aw, shucks . . . NO!
I don’t need a buzzer to tell me that I have to be at work in 30 minutes. I have been showing up at work on time since Apple computers were assembled in the Jobs’s garage. I do not need to take Facebook and Twitter with me when I get coffee or visit friends. I have sat across the table from enough silly people who ignored the company in front of them to stare at their screen, or dropped out of a conversation to look up points of trivia that no one really cared about.
Like the Tony Awards last week. One person at our small viewing party could not put her phone away.
“What are you doing? Are you playing a game?”
“I’m on imdb. You guys wanted to know what TV show Ken Howard was in.”
She looked up Long Day’s Journey Into Night (the movie), and Meg Ryan’s plastic surgeries. Even when the rest of us asked no questions, she was on her phone. Not talking, just staring at the screen as her thumbs twitched away.
After Frank Langella’s acceptance speech (lovely) I wondered aloud who won the Oscar the year that he was nominated for Frost/Nixon.
“I’m down to 3% of my battery!”
“You don’t have to look it up. I just wondered.”
Actually, what I wondered was if anyone remembered that performance or wanted to discuss it. You know, discuss . . . like we used to do before we all carried glowing almanacs and encyclopedias with us?
“No, here it is. Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood.”
What could I say but “Thanks”?
I’m pretty sure she watched the Tony’s later, on her phone. Once she’d charged it up.
And yet, the Andriod is making my life easier. Here’s how:
Because it doesn’t fit in my pocket, I no longer take my phone everywhere with me. I leave it on the table when I walk my dog. I stash it in the side pocket of my purse, out of sight and hearing. I stow it far away from my bedroom so its incessant chimes and chirps and spits don’t keep me up all night.
And I’m fine. I enjoy my walks without the phone. I never think about it when it’s stored away. For the first time in 16 or 17 years, I don’t have a phone with me every minute. It’s like being young again. (Remember, I was young long before cell phones. I was even middle-aged long before cell phones.)
I finally realize: I don’t need it.
Unless, of course, my car conks out on a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair. Then, you know, maybe it’ll come in handy.
If I can figure out how to use it.