Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had a fascination with phones.
In the second grade, I was amazed with the fact that I could dial a number and it would make another phone ring at one of my little friend' houses. While in the 5th grade, my little bitty home town finally got the ability to “direct-dial” a long distance call. (Long distance calls cost 20 cents a minute back then – a pretty hefty toll for 1969.) I longed for the day that we’d be able to have one of those new “push-button” phones in my home town. (It didn’t happen until 1982.)
So, I was pretty excited over getting my first Smartphone the other day. My ten-year old self would have never ever fathomed how far telephone technology had come. Heck, I’m still pretty amazed over cell phones and the fact that I can dial England without the assistance of an operator.
The fact that a phone could give you directions, transfer money, order Thai food, and download porn - - yes, technology has come a long way indeed. I was ready to jump on the bandwidth wagon.
I returned the smartphone the following morning. I had it for a little over twelve hours. (I won’t say what kind of phone it was because it worked just fine and was a brilliant piece of technology) - - I just found the entire Smartphone experience very inefficient and distressing.
For the past two years, I’ve wholly embraced the use of the Dvorak keyboard precisely because it’s a much more efficient way to type. (I’m now typing a breezy 90 wpm.) So you can imagine how frustrating it was for me to poke at a virtual, little bitty keyboard every time I needed to enter a password, much less an entire sentence. I got to the point of feeling distressed every time that little keyboard popped up for me to poke at.
Also, my apartment building is notorious for bad cell phone reception. Downloading an app took forever and I could see the battery power dwindling in the process.
The smartphone is, indeed, very very smart. I was able to deposit a check by downloading the app from my bank, taking a photo of the check which completed the deposit. That was way cool!
Then, I soon realized that I don’t need a smartphone. I already have a nice camera that also takes great videos, a pretty powerful desktop PC at home, a laptop with wireless access, an iPod and an iPod Shuffle. Do I need to contribute to rampant consumerism? Do I really want to play Angry Birds that badly?
The answer was a resounding ‘no’.
Yes, the smartphone deposited my check by taking a photo of it. But there’s also an ATM in the freaking lobby of my building.
Yes, the smartphone has a voice that tells you where to drive. But I cannot follow verbal directions to save me. I would have ended up smashing into the Sears Tower.
Yes, I could play online Scrabble with my bestie Scrabble-friend, Lorraine. It’s fun. But that can’t compare to laughing and playing with her at the kitchen table in Seattle while drinking Seattle coffee.
Will we, as humans, atrophy into “there’s an app for that” type of beings?
I realize that smartphones are incredible, entertaining inventions and if you like having one, that’s wonderful. For me, it was just an inefficient and frustrating device to have.
So, like surrendering an adopted puppy to an animal shelter, I took the smartphone back to the Verizon dealer and obtained a regular, garden-variety cell phone; one that was a better fit for me.
By the way, I can’t say enough nice things about the excellent customer service and the staff at Verizon.
I just hope they don’t text me to see how my shopping experience was.