August 7, 2011

Caving in to the Smartphone craze

I don't need a smartphone.

I spend most of my time at home or in my office. A regular phone is always nearby, and a computer or a laptop is always available to get those breaking emails or to look up those important baseball stats.

I don't want a smartphone.

There are times when I don't WANT to be available. I don't want to be emailed while I'm picking up a gallon of milk at the store. I don't want to videoconference with someone while I'm driving on the highway. I don't want GPS technology to pinpoint my location when I'm at an illegal gerbil-fighting arena.

This week I bought a smartphone.

I don't feel good about it. In my defense … no, I have no defense. It's a cool device, no question, but I have given in to slick advertising and smothering peer pressure.

For a long time, I've tried to ignore the Blackberry surgically grafted to my wife's hand. But now just about everyone has one, or an iPhone, or an Android, or whatever the next generation version is.

At a recent get-together with a half-dozen friends I only see once or twice a year, lunch consisted of five people huddled over their smartphones — sending texts and emails, posting pictures, looking up fun facts about Luke Perry, playing Angry Birds — and me.

I slipped my sad little phone out of my pocket — no Internet, no keyboard, no birds (angry or otherwise) — and quietly hid it under my napkin.

"Aw, my battery is dead. Heh heh." And that was the last bit of conversation I had.

I come from a family that was the last in the neighborhood to get a touch-tone phone ("Why do you need buttons when you can dial the numbers just fine?"). Also the last to get a cordless phone ("Where are you going to go that a cord can't reach?"). My dad still has a tin can attached to a string in his kitchen.

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