The technology in our house is undergoing a transformation.
My husband, who works for a communications company, has always had his finger on the pulse of new: new product, newest update, latest gadgets. I, however, knowing he’s doing enough worrying about it for the two of us, have gotten progressively further out of the loop with each subsequent year past college. With the exception of my blog and attendant accounts, I haven’t added any new technology ammo to my arsenal.
When my husband was issued an iPhone for his job, I inherited his personal ruggedized flip phone. It did the job. It stored important numbers. It texted – after you hit the same alpha-numeric button a kajillion times for one character. It took grainy photos. I actually impressed my husband with the amount of functionality I squeezed out of that embarrassingly outdated piece of equipment.
Only, its days were numbered.
He sent me a text one day that read, “I love you ??” I countered with, “What, you don’t know?” He explained it was supposed to be some cute emoji blowing me a kiss, but our antiquated tech couldn’t decipher it. I still thought it was rather suspect. He thought it was one more reason to get a new phone.
Then, due to restructuring at work, his iPhone would no longer be standard issue. He began shopping for two brand-spanking new smartphones for us. He told me I’d like them so much better. I vacillated between not caring and not wanting one.
I liked the ability to go incommunicado when I left the house. I enjoyed not having Hal summoning me throughout the day and night. I liked not having a technological tether.
And then he forced me to set it up and play with it.
My head nearly exploded the first time I swiped down and a list of updates from all my social media accounts appeared on one screen. I could comment on my blog in real-time. I could find out who that new follower on Twitter was instantaneously. I could add new events to my calendar without deleting two others because the memory was full. Hell, I could even ask Moto what song was playing on the closing credits of the movie that just ended.
The ability to synch and stream and search does make life a lot easier. In a world where everyone else is ‘smart’, it does give me an edge – or at least a fighting chance. It will help me build my platform and online presence with a sense of immediacy that taking a photo with my flip phone, emailing it to myself, and posting it five hours later simply can’t.
There are, however, drawbacks.
To write this, is the first time I’ve opened my laptop in five days. Sure, swiping my smartphone can make me a Twitter phenom, but it ain’t gonna get any writing done.
There are other ways it could hurt my writing, too. Grammar. Syntax. Spelling. Holy God. I already feel myself getting dumber. When I have to stuff my fat thumbs onto those tiny little virtual squares, the least amount of tapping is optimal, but my grammar dander is up big time. I don’t think I’ve tapped a complete sentence yet. With texting, this isn’t as much of an issue, but when you can access email as well, there is a significant drop in quality of communications. I feel like I need to prostrate myself in front of my junior high English teachers.
Smartphones also rob us of another basic language skill: alphabetical order. When my husband imported some contacts for me, I wondered why they were alphabetized by first name or prefix (ie Uncle Josephat). I was going to lambaste him for his shoddy abc order, when I realized new additions filed the same way. When I questioned him on the reason for this, he agreed it was strange, but that didn’t stop me from a lengthy diatribe on how this little feature was killing the skill-set of the next generation. (Yes, tech gurus, I understand you’ve studied the metrics of keystrokes and all that crap, but you’re killing our linguistic scaffolds!)
Last, but certainly not least, smartphones rob us of life. Designed to save precious moments, they steal many others from us. I, myself, in short order became a rampant offender – of that crime of staring into the tiny screen rather than the expanse in front of me. Of running to the notification beep like Pavlov’s drooling dog. In our desire of being up-to-the-minute, in-the-know, we don’t do any of the living ourselves. How stupidly sad.
In an ironic twist of fate, as I prepared to flip my phone shut for the last time, this news broke:
Proof that if you hold onto something long enough, it will come back around again. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty to kick my flip phone to the curb. But then, I never would’ve known my flip phone was still in vogue if it hadn’t trended on my husband’s smartphone.