On Friday evening, I got a new phone. Until now I’ve been using an ancient, still-red-where-not-battered flip phone. When dropped, more frequently than I’d like to admit, its rear panel would fly in one direction, its sadly overused battery in the other. The phone’s main functions were repeatedly getting lost, calling people and an archaic form of what might be called texting.
My old phone took worse pictures than a drunk three-year-old and had a screen the size of an ant’s anus. But this relic of a bygone gadget era has been retired for a new, untouched, unblemished purple Pantech Swift.
Take a deep breath, people, because this phone has a (large) touch screen, a keyboard and a micro SD slot. This slim little Pantech is the fanciest phone that has ever rattled around in the bottom of my purse. The funny thing is, it’s still the bastard child of a twice-renovated first generation iPhone… it doesn’t even have a data plan, for crying out loud.
Anyways, I’d rather have a cement-covered wine cork shoved into my left eye than pay for a data plan. True, the hubby has one and I’ve been known to go on a Pandora bender or two on long drives to Loveland. But otherwise, I have a firm belief that our phones are making us stupid. Not just indolent or impatient (although fancy phones may exacerbate these tendencies, too) but downright cretinous.
For example, let’s say I don’t know the meaning of the word “cretinous” (it’s okay if you really don’t know — it’s not your fault, it’s your phone’s fault). Back in the stone ages of dusty old dictionaries, I would have cracked an elderly tome and fished out the answer. Now, I can just jab “cretinous” into a Smartphone’s dictionary app — and I’ll probably spell it wrong, but that’s fine because my phone will auto correct the word. Instantly, cretinous is defined: cretin-like, idiotic, boorish.
But crap, what does “boorish” mean? And what was I looking up in the first place? Oh wait, now I’m hungry. Maybe Siri can tell me where to find some lunch…
All of this Smartphone, iPhone, Android silliness takes much of the effort out of daily life. Sounds great — and it can be — but it also takes the creativity out of solving mundane problems. Without creativity, we’re a stagnant race. And while we’re asking our phones to organize our lives, we look like cretins doing it. You know what I’m talking about: the Smartphone — or as the hubby likes to say — Dumbphone walk.
While texting your buddy (who you’ll see in approximately 6 minutes for coffee) to tell him that you’re almost to the coffee shop, you’re weaving around the sidewalk like a drunk driver in a hurricane. Just now, you missed a unicorn pop out of City Park while looking up the ingredients in a unicorn turd and emailing them to your friends. Dude, you missed a freaking unicorn, a fascinating animal which is either a farce or else more elusive than what Romney actually meant when he said, “whole binders full of women.” In the very least, you could’ve taken a picture of it on your Smartphone… idiot.
I’m not sure what the rush is to get to the coffee shop, though. Your coffee buddy is bellied up to the bar sharing his Facebook page with the barista. She’s pretty hot, so he asks you to take a pic of her on his Dumbphone, which he immediately posts to his Facebook page. You’re already bored, so you sign onto your Facebook page and then like your friend’s picture of himself with the hot barista.
Seriously. I know Facebook has become the organic creme de la creme of social networking. I will never discount the social movements in the Middle East that freed whole countries from tyrannical rule. Nor will I dispute how inestimable Facebook proved itself to be while I was waist deep in the joyous nightmare of planning a wedding. Technology truly has solved a menagerie of problems.
But it has also trapped us in a self-created spiderweb of ridiculous connections. I honestly don’t care that you are currently taking a bath. I could survive two lifetimes without picturing most of you covered in bubbles. And please stop tweeting about being halfway through a Coke, or just “hating my pathetic life right now.” And those of you who affirm these people a la “Totally finishing a Coke right now, too…” just put down your phone. Please. Or else I’ll sick some zombies on you… because I just totally found a sweet Web site on somebody’s Smartphone where I can rent a zombie for $30 an hour.
The thing is, even if I hired zombies to bite your face off, I couldn’t tell them where to find you. Despite the fact that we’ve been friends for years and I’ve been to your apartment dozens of times, there’s no way I could find it without my GPS… on my Smartphone.
Look, my sense of direction is about as efficient as the US healthcare system. Once, I had to find my way with a map so large that it flooded the whole front windshield and no one could see the road. When tasked with map reading, I remembered locations, intersections and landmarks. Eventually (maybe) I actually got to know the area I lived in. And I had the excuse to find the hottest guy around and ask him for directions (Him: “Um, yeah you’re parked in front of Skylark Cinemas.” Me, looking to the left, “Well, would you look at that.”).
Look in all seriousness, go play Angry Birds on your Smartphone. Play sick videos of your snowboarding adventures on your Android and impress some chicks. Just know that I’ll be out there with no data plan, no Facebook access, no email access and a very weak text plan. Your phones are making you dumber — but me, I just get smarter every day.