Tales from the Technologically Impaired
I have a confession to make. For the last four months, I did not have a cell phone. And I liked it.
Before you spit out your coffee in a sputtering, shuddering display of shock and horror, let me explain. Before I didn't have a cell phone, I did have a cell phone. Based on the half-cocked eyebrows and the incredulous expressions on the faces of those who saw the contraption, you'd think it was one of those behemoth doo-hickies from the '80s that had to connect with NASA in order to get reception. My cell phone was so basic, so simple, so completely not smart in any way, that it didn't seem like too much of a sacrifice to go without it. And well, while we're on to full disclosure, I didn't pay the bill so it got cut off.
But what I discovered in my handheld device hiatus is that it's pretty nice without one. Skype is an amazing invention. Not only can you use a Skype account for video and phone calls to both computers and cell phones, but people can "call" your Skype account and leave a voice message. Which, seems to me, just like a land line, right? So for my four months off, I was a convert. Smugly toting the benefits, the freedom, the "reachable when I wanna be, but mysterious when I don't" thought bubbles in my head.
We're so attached to our cell phones these days, they've practically turned into part of the table setting: fork, knife, spoon, cell phone. I often see large groups at a table in a restaurant, texting away on their phones, and I wonder if they're not texting each other instead of having a conversation. I once broke up with a guy in a text message, which I thought was okay since he asked me out in one too. And there is a part of me deep down that thinks all of this is a little wrong. A glitch in the matrix of our society. I was getting so good at using Skype and email, payphones, landlines and borrowed phones that I did in fact haughtily make the statement, "I am not going to get another cell phone."
With travel in my future and an increasingly busy schedule, however, I justified buying an iPhone. Uh-oh. "Houston, we have a problem."
There is probably a reason why I had such a basic phone. Because I think in order to own, let me rephrase, operate, a smart phone, you need to be, well....phone smart. Phone smart, I be not. I spent over an hour in the store asking the sales guy a million questions about data, Wi-Fi, incoming and outgoing data, texting, photos, photo-texting, downloading, apps and roaming. Just what the hell is a megabyte, anyway? He looked at me like I was a hundred years old, and so I toned down my questioning, resolving to look smart, smile and nod.
I let consumerist euphoria carry me home on an iCloud and then I fell into the sleek, black hole of my iPhone screen, lost in the dark maze of flatscreen buttons. I pushed one of these buttons and then all of the buttons started jiggling and dancing like a bowl of hospital-style Jello. I had to ask my mom how to operate FaceTime, and she can't even operate the remote control. I figured out how to send a text message, but I aim my big, fat, sausage index finger over those teeny-tiny "keys" hoping I can poke the right one. Thank god for T9. I hear rumours about the App Store, Instagram photos, Shazam and GPS programs but I'm pretty sure they're a figment in the imagination of Steve Jobs' ghost.
And let's just hope that my iPhone is smarter than I am, because I have high hopes of being an organized and tech-savvy individual, and I'm gonna need my phone to teach me a thing or two.