I don’t have a smart phone. In fact, I haven’t ever wanted one. I have nothing against them — other than price and the need for a commitment to a service provider. I have other electronics including a laptop, an ipad, an ipod, to which I am attached and enjoy. Unfortunately, the ipod I bought to replace the one I left on an airplane does not have a camera — an omission I didn’t realize when I bought it from a friend. I have a cell phone that has a camera, although not one that is easy to use or that takes good pictures. (One reason I haven’t started posting pix.) It is a pre-paid phone, allowing me to avoid monthly contracts. While it supposedly has web access, I have not found it convenient or easy to use, as it does not have a touch screen. Also the lack of a qwerty keyboard makes texting difficult. Is it possible to find a functional smart phone without mortgaging my future to Verizon or AT&T? (Don’t even mention T-Mobile; reception is spotty enough on Whidbey Island where I live with the two majors.) If I decide to go that route, do I stay loyal to Apple and get an iphone, or will an older generation Android phone, considerably less expensive and available from my pre-paid service provider, suffice? I will soon have a book published after which, hopefully, I will need to make sales wherever I happen to be. Can I justify the smart phone as a business expense? Maybe. And maybe there will be income against which to take the deduction. We live in hope.
Aside from the publication of my book, none of this warms my 71 year old heart. Since I am retired from my fulltime work, and do much of my present activity from home or nearby coffee shops, So, I am usually near an accessible Wi-Fi hub. My ipad allows me to be online whenever and wherever I want, and it takes good pictures. I don’t think I can text from it though. My pockets are not large enough to hold the ipad, and I have no desire to wear pants with bigger pockets or get an ipad mini. It’s not like I have anything against the Mini; I just don’t want to spend the money.
I was at a conference last week with thousands of attendees. While the ages of the participants ranged from being in utero to a decade or two post-Social Security, a large number of those I saw seemed to be of graduate students age or younger. All were constantly on their cell phones, thumbs flying as text messages soared and Tweets posted. Selfies and other cell-phone photos documented meals, booth presentations, speakers, attendees, and a myriad of other subjects. It wasn’t as if I felt out of it; it was more like part of me sorta wanted access to those capabilities, to that world. At the same time, I was grateful for the lack of connection, for the solitude amidst the masses my phone’s technological non-capabilities provided. An creative writing instructor speaking at a panel on using humor in memoir, a subject near and dear to my heart, told of an undergraduate student who wrote a paper describing various public restrooms on the campus of their school. Included in the description was the nature of cell phone reception in the various stalls and urinals (the writer was male.) While this information made for some humorous reading, I was a tad disturbed by thinking some of his readers considered that information to be relevant if not extremely important. I tend to choose public bathrooms on other criteria, usually proximity and standard of cleanliness (that bar moves up and down depending on the urgency of my need and their proximity.)
I don’t know whether I will break down and get a smart phone, or should I say, when I do so. At a minimum, I will replace my present phone with one from which it will be easier to text. Given the hassles my wife’s new pre-paid phone has caused this past weekend, I could give her mine, thus justifying my purchase of a new phone. Again, it is not the initial cost that is of concern. It is the continuing expense. It’s the old “give ‘em the hardware, sell them the software” business model, successful since it was first utilized.
Another possibility I have considered is to sell her my ipod, recouping a bit of my investment, and buy a smart phone. (Had I not just bought the one I lost, I would probably just give it to her, as I offered with my old Nano.) I could load all my music onto the phone, have a camera, and be able to text, all with one less piece of equipment.
I know at some level I have already made the decision, merely by seriously considering the question, and this is all intellectual masturbation. Well, physical masturbation is often fun, so why not the intellectual kind as well?