Not so smart


Smart phones make you feel so dumb.

Somewhere out there, there are rooms full of intelligent people – the guys who used to sit alone in the high school cafeteria – devising the newest “apps” for the newest smart phones, and I’m sure they are all jazzed up about their latest inventions. But what they fail to realize is that it all comes down to the end user, by whom I mean the rest of us who actually sat with other people at lunch.

Speaking of sitting, why does my phone dial people inadvertently when I sit down? I have called people who I haven’t talked to in years, forced not only to awkwardly explain that I had called by accident, but also to try to come up with a pleasant conversation on the fly. This glitch (programmers call this a “feature”) never came up in the development stage, I am assuming, because the people designing the phone have no people in their contact list.

I will give them credit, however. They understand addiction.

The tone that indicates another email or text message has arrived sets me into a Pavlovian mandate to check my phone in case “something important” has come in. I could be in the middle of a high level meeting at the White House (not that this has or will ever happen, but I’m being dramatic) and if that chime goes off I would be physically unable to fight the urge to look.

If I leave the house…no, check that. If I leave the ROOM without it I will turn around and fetch it. I cannot sleep without it by my side.

That being said, if I need it, I will not be able to find it. Those guys in the lab designed the smart phones to blend in with any piece of furniture, fruit, plant or other inanimate object in the vicinity. Most of my outgoing calls are from my land line to my own cell phone so I can locate it.

I don’t understand the obsession with “apps.” I do not necessarily need to know what the stars look like at this very moment. When I grew up you could do that without a phone…by looking up. In a list of the most popular apps, number 11 is, “2Pick: Your touring party and free good standard price platform (in Chinese).” But that isn’t as popular as number 5, which is a carbon footprint calculator. Really? Number 5?

Maybe I am dumb after all. Maybe the phones are designed for someone more accomplished in the electronic side of life. Maybe, but I went camping the other day and was out of cell phone coverage. The smart phone became nothing but an inanimate object (albeit difficult to find). No beeps to make you check your emails, no calls. Just a little black box that served no purpose other than to hold the tablecloth down. We had a campfire. We talked and enjoyed the nature all around us. Instead of looking down at that little addictive device in my hands, I looked up.

And saw stars.


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