Smartphone: Convenient Device or Electronic Ball-and-Chain?
Maybe it's a little of both.
If I'm away from electronic gadgets or social media sites for long, I wonder what I’m missing by not logging into Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter every five minutes. It's interesting because I don’t consider myself a very social person.
I know I'm missing something, though. It might be the latest Charlie Sheen controversy courtesy of the Detroit News on my Facebook feed, or a funny tweet from Return-to-Work-Mom. Heck, I'm afraid I'll miss daily e-mails from Kohl's or Borders or Groupon, even though I delete most before I view them.
I really hadn't counted on getting sucked into the whole high-tech/social media thing. It was initially limited to my computer or laptop. I could only access those sites if I were home, or at some coffee shop pretending to work.
For the last few months Verizon has been teasing me with an early upgrade, force-feeding me pictures of this smartphone and that smartphone, making me feel inadequate with my old “dumb” phone. And since I was the only one in the family without a Droid or a Blackberry (my kids had them before me), I thought, I really need to keep up with technology.
But how do you pick a smartphone when you don’t know the difference between a Blackberry and a strawberry? My Facebook “friends” are pretty tech-savvy, so I posed the question to all 118 of them: which one should I get?
Though the Blackberry and Droid had their share of fans, the majority were in love with iPhones like a 13-year-old enthralled with Glee. Problem solved, then: I’d get the iPhone!
I ordered one online and received it phone a few days later. What a shiny little device. Looked nothing like my ancient cellular phone. There was no keyboard, either. It was all “touch” technology. Finally, I could see what an “app” looked like. With the phone’s multi-tasking functionality, I could probably order Chinese using the takee-outee app, and talk to my husband on the speaker at the same time.
Since I’ve had it though, I haven’t exactly mastered all of its capabilities.
On the bright side, I can tap the phone icon and call anyone on my contact list. I can also text using the touch screen, although it takes five times longer to type a message than it did with the keyboard on my old phone. Just for fun, I’ll check the weather at a moment’s notice. (For a weather aficionado like me, that’s pretty special.) And when I stand in line at Macy’s or Kohl’s, I no longer eavesdrop on conversations next to me to pass time. Instead, I check Twitter updates, scrolling through millions of micro messages, frequently landing on Web pages I didn’t intend, thanks to a screen that’s too touchy for its own good.
But out of 25 gazillion applications, that about all I do.
A recent survey by BabyCenter.com showed 51 percent of moms admit to being addicted to their smartphones. They say their phones help them stay organized and in touch with work and family. They even use the phones to help them look for deals while they are shopping.
If I let myself, I think I could become just as addicted. But I’m not sure I want to. I’m getting a little weary of being connected all the time, as though I’m tethered to an electronic ball-and-chain. Is the world going to end if I don’t use the GPS on my phone to find the nearest Starbucks?
Probably not. Maybe it’s time to give up this uber-connectedness and see what it feels like to live without the constant onslaught of information. I really don’t need my phone to give me a weather report when I can just peek out the window and see for myself, do I?
Of course, it’s easy to say that. I know how this works: once as I figure out how to Skype, grocery shop and tweet on my very smart phone, all at the same time, I’ll be hooked. Forever.
Dang you, iPhone.