Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Call Me, Maybe

Guess who has a smart phone and doesn't know how to use it?

That's right, I am now the proud owner of a smarter-than-me phone. But I'm in good company. According to a recent study, 50% to 75% of people age 30 and older who have a smart phone don't really know how to use it (“A Recent Study,” June 2013, Center for Completely Fabricated Statistics).

Now I can make and receive calls any time, anyplace, get directions, check the weather, and research surrounding landmarks, restaurants and gas stations. All from the comfort of my phone.

In theory, that is.

The fact of the matter is that it would probably be quicker for me to make my call from home (we are one of the 5% of Americans, according to the CCFS, who still have a “land line”), check a map for directions, look out the window to see if it's raining, and just drive around cluelessly until I happen upon my destination.

I got along just fine with my plain old, slow, boring (but reliable) cell phone. But I've been plum 'et up with jealousy since the first time I saw someone access Accuweather on their phone. Watching my dear husband get directions on his phone turned me green with envy. Listening to the Princess snicker whenever I tried – and failed – to use her smart phone just about drove me insane.

But I stuck firm to my Luddite beliefs that a cell phone should be just that: a phone, not a hand held computer. Being able to make or receive a call in a car at will (within reason) was technological marvel enough! Accessing the internet from the passenger seat was just too much for a mere mortal to aspire to! Icarus, watch out for the sun!

In the end, I fell victim to creeping technology-itis.

Texting was my gateway tech-drug. Sending brief messages to the dear husband and our little angels made life so much easier. We could converse phrase by phrase (or word by word) as time permitted, not committing to long, meaningful conversations.

Then the Princess showed me how to access my email account on my old phone. I didn't care if it was almost all spam; suddenly I could receive ads for Viagra no matter where I was! I could surf the web, too, as long as I didn't actually need to read anything on the teeny-tiny screen.

Then there were the Doubting Thomases, whose disparagement only fueled my determination.
“You don't want a smart phone,” my darling husband said, “you'll just get frustrated when you can't get it to do what you want.”
“I had to show you how to work the phone you have,” my darling daughter said.
“If you had a smart phone, you could look up the answer – HAHAHAHAH,” said my darling son.

True, I worked very hard to cultivate an air of technological ineptitude. Perhaps I made myself out to be a little too technologically challenged. But why should I go to all the trouble to learn how to change my screen saver when someone else was there to do it for me? Why should I waste time trying to download the Kim Possible ring tone, when someone else volunteered to do it?

The division of labor in our house is pretty clear cut. If it involves technology someone else takes care of it. If it involves cooking, cleaning or other household chores, I take care of it.

But no more! The revolution is upon us! I am upsetting the balance of power.

With the Princess busy figuring out her own new phone, I took action. After struggling unsuccessfully to add my email account to my apps, I broke down and downloaded the manual for my phone – by myself (En Espaňole primero). I've always been able to read instruction, just too lazy to actually do it on more than a need to know basis. This time I had the need and I wanted to know.

So far I have conquered the email app, deleted and arranged icons, changed the screen saver, managed my ring tones, added and deleted contacts, sent and received texts and used the camera.

There's only one thing I haven't done yet:

 Made a phone call.

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