I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with technology.
I was one of the last people that I knew to even get a cell phone in the first place. And other than absolutely necessary communications, my cell phone has never been that important to me. Until two weeks ago, the cell phone I was carrying was 10 years old. Just think about that for a minute. All the innovations in the past decade and I was carrying around what basically amounted to an antique. And I am as shocked as you are that a single phone was still functioning perfectly after all these years.
I am about to make a shocking confession: until December 1st of this year, I did not text and did not have internet access through my phone. I hope most of you were sitting down when you read that.
Now, maybe three years ago, people would still say to me, “Hey, I’ll let you know what time we’ll be there… do you text?”
“Uh, no,” I would say sheepishly and shake my head.
Within the past year or so, no one asks if you “text” anymore. No sane person can imagine a human being walking around in 2015 who doesn’t… my 10-year-old daughter texts… so do my 70-year-old parents… I think even Santa Claus has been texting since 2005, so now it had become, “Did you get my text saying we would be late to the party?”
“Uh, no,” I would say shamefully, “I know this is weird, and I’m a little embarrassed to tell you this, but I don’t text,” then I would bow my head and shield my eyes behind my hands so that I couldn’t see the look on their faces.
Finally, I had had enough. The shame and embarrassment at my “cell phone situation” had become too great to bear; I used to not care what people thought… I was a rebel… I was cool… now it turns out, I was just weird.
So, this was going to be it. The year I got on the same train everyone else was riding.
I made this life altering decision at Thanksgiving and spent the next week or so after that researching the “best deal;” a whole lot had changed since I’d gotten my “free phone” from AT&T in exchange for a 2-year contract all those years ago.
There were now dozens of cell phone brands, and companies I’d never heard of, and now, a half dozen companies existed that didn’t even have their own towers, they piggy-backed off the big networks… it was madness out there, I tell you…
But I finally made a decision, found the cheapest phone – in my case, free, which is the kind of price tag I like – and the least expensive plan with unlimited talk and text… and I marched into that Metro PCS store like a boss, threw down my old phone and said boldly, “I want to switch over from AT&T for that free phone, right there!”
The young woman looked down at my phone and fell apart. She was doubled-over, clutching her sides and stomping her feet. When she was able to collect herself, she picked up my phone, held it out to her co-worker, and said, “Look at this. I haven’t seen a phone like this since Middle School!” She was barely able to catch her breath between gulps of laughter.
Now, I wasn’t the least bit offended by Metro PCS’s employees rolling on the floor laughing at me. I get it. I really do. Actually, I appreciated the young woman’s confidence that I was self-aware enough to laugh with her, and I did.
I told her that if Adele had just used an old slider phone instead of a flip phone in her new video, “Hello,” I would have been hip again. I say, “again,” as if I was ever hip in the first place.
This is my new phone!
Yes, it was free.
It is not an iPhone6. I do not want $600 in my hand. I told someone that once and they said, “you don’t have to pay it all at once. You make monthly payments.”
No. They did not get it. If someone gave me $600 and said, “here, go buy yourself an iPhone6,” I would take that money and purchase 6 $100 gift cards for massages.
It’s not about the money. It’s about priorities.
After the young woman had collected herself and finished activating my new phone, she took a before and after pic of me holding my phones to share with her co-workers at their multi-store locations during their weekly meeting. I am glad that I was able to get a smart phone and spread a little holiday cheer while I was at it.
One of the reasons I resisted getting a smart phone, is that I have seen how it takes over people’s lives. Everyone is face down on their phones all the time and no one talks to each other anymore. Chatty emails are dead and people only communicate with abbreviated texts, which are the written equivalent of grunting.
The morning after getting my shiny, fancy new phone, I was in the drive-thru of Chik-Fil-A picking up a chicken biscuit for breakfast. I was face down, fascinated with my ability to read news alerts from CNN in my car, when I heard the horn.
I looked up. The car ahead of me was no longer in sight. Clearly, my anonymous friend behind me had been more than patient and had waited as long as possible before despairing that I would ever move and honked their horn.
I had become “one of them” and it had taken less than 24 hours.
I do enjoy my new phone. I have made my peace with it. I have reveled in the pleasures of an instantaneous hand-held map and the ability to ask a computer to make a last minute hair appointment for me, but I’m sure it won’t take long before I lose my sense of appreciation for my new master… I mean my “smart” phone.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all and to all an electronics-free goodnight. Ya’ll go talk to each other!