COSMIC NEW PHONE BLUES
By Terri White
Phones. We either love ‘em or hate ‘em. But we all need one. Telephones have come a long way. From landlines attached to the wall to cordless landlines to smartphones. From a $10 monthly bill for local calls plus extra charges for long distance to flat rates to hundreds of dollars in monthly cell phone bills. No more public phone booths – poor Clark Kent. Where does he change into his Superman clothes nowadays?
Personally, I suffer from a love-hate relationship with my phone. Basically, it’s a computer. Everything at my fingertips, which, frankly, is handy.
In an emergency, I can immediately call for help. I can text or email messages. I can FaceTime. I can take photos, store them, edit them, and share them. I can create a flyer. I can send instructions to my home printer to print a document. I can purchase items online. The store will even email me when they deliver the packages – with a picture. I can order take-out delivery or check a menu before we arrive at the restaurant. I can order groceries. I can pay bills and keep track of my spending. I can donate to a charity. I can connect with friends and family on social media. I can keep organized with the calendar that sends chirpy reminders. I can read the news or a book on it. I can find recipes.
It stores all my contacts. It’s my alarm clock and timer.
It’s the world in the palm of my hand.
It’s also a pain in the-you-know-what. A time stealer. An addiction. A cheater. A relationship destroyer. Rife with electronic thefts. Millions of people walk around with their eyes glued to their phones instead of on their surroundings. Millions neglect family time while glued to their phones. Millions sit at the dinner table glued to their phones. Students cheat on homework and exams with apps that provide answers. Students sit in classrooms listening to music instead of their teachers’ lessons.
It’s a babysitter for lazy parents. Telephone manners have gone awry. Human interaction is at risk. It’s a handheld good, bad, and ugly.
Those born post year 2000 only know an electronic world. Young children are given phones. Laptops, tablets, and PCs are standard in every home. Families spend hundreds of dollars each month paying for various electronic services for phones, Internet, and television. Unheard of in days bygone.
Furthermore, to make matters even more challenging, ongoing advanced technology outdates our phones all too soon. My 15-year-old granddaughter burst out laughing when I told her that my old phone was over five years old, and her Popsy’s was eight years old. To her, that was ancient! To me, that’s only not-quite-so-new.
But the outdated technology on our old phones forced us to purchase new ones. Hailing from a generation when the landline phone came with the house, paying hundreds of dollars for a phone still bugs me.
First, I had to research phones. Online, of course. We stick with Samsung Galaxy, so that saved time. But the options. Screen size: 5.5”? 6.1”? 6.5”? Camera quality: 13mp – 64mp? Storage: 32GB – 128GB? Don’t know what all that means? On to more research. The choices are mindboggling.
Finally, I chose one – the same for both of us. Now to purchase it. Online, of course. But I could only purchase one at a time per phone number. Input the information. Click pay. Now wait until they deliver it.
On to Steve’s phone. Click. Click. Click. Input the information. Click pay. Message: We’re sorry, but you cannot purchase another phone until you activate the one you just ordered. Face palm. Why in the world does THAT matter? Determined, I tried again. Nope! They would not allow me to purchase a second phone.
After four days, my phone arrived, so we headed to our provider’s store to complete the process. As the first customers, the tech got right to us. While she activated my phone, we purchased Steve’s phone at the store instead of online. That way, he had it immediately. However, as she tried to activate his, they rejected it because of my attempt to order it online. It took a full 30 minutes to untangle that snag.
A whiz at multitasking, the tech began transferring my data from the old to the new during the untangling-the-snag snafu. The transfer moved in slow motion. Fingers crossed. During this process, new customers filtered in, politely waiting their turns. Nice. No impatient, rude persons insisting on immediate service. With aplomb, though, the tech navigated from one customer to another. Impressive.
Eventually, she activated Steve’s phone and started his data transfer. It whizzed along. Mine? Still creeping, so the tech switched apps. It still inched along. Two long, boring hours passed. Then she showed us how to finish the data transfer at home. With note in hand – I dared not trust my memory – we headed out. Other customers moved forward.
At home, we both flopped on the sofa, exhausted. What is it about technology that drains our energy? I bet there’s science to back that up.
Finally, I managed to transfer all my data to my new phone. After a frustrating try, Steve, needing help, returned to the store to finish his. While he was gone, I downloaded the apps I used on my old phone. Of course, it’s not simple. Not just downloading, but resetting my accounts with user names and passwords.
Next I checked my transferred pictures. Imagine scrolling through 1,500 photos not stored in separate folders by category like I had them sorted on my old phone. With all the skills of technology wizards, you would think they could figure out a way to transfer pictures folder by folder. Oh, no! Why make it easy on us poor schleps, for crying out loud?!
By this time, my brain was fried, Steve had returned home, but still needed help with his phone. More mind-boggling tech-torture to top off my day. My entire day. As the saying goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for this!” I heartily agree.
Apparently, these young techy-nerds don’t realize that not everyone is wired to handle constantly changing technology. Geeze, we just figure out the new stuff when a whole new crop of nerdiness emerges. Maybe it forces our brains to stay alert. Maybe it’s just a nuisance. Maybe it’s a time-waster. Maybe it’s the big-bad-boogey man in a case. Just maybe.
Those of us pre-computer era folks would never have imagined spending a whole day figuring out a new phone, much less spending hundreds of dollars for it. It will probably never cease to irk me. I fear simplicity has been vanquished from our world – unless we are plunged into another Dark Ages. Might not be a bad idea. So here’s to simplifying our lives. Good luck with that.