A stone's throw: Smart phone

November 17, 2012 6:33:38 PM

Betty Stone -


Two of my daughters visited me recently, and I got ambushed. I had been toying with the idea of getting a smart phone, and they called my bluff. One daughter took me to a couple of stores where we -- she -- discussed what to get with some helpful children (or so they seemed to me) behind the counter. One store was sold out, so we went to another.  


I could barely understand what the negotiations covered, except that I was going to be paying a good bit more than I had for my old cell phone. My daughter struck a deal for my calling plan whereby I would pay about $50 less than what I was originally quoted. She seemed pleased, but I remembered I had paid one penny for my old cell phone, and my calling plan rarely cost as much as $19 dollars. Of course, I had to pay roaming fees, but I rarely roamed. 


The selling advantage to my new phone was that I would be able to text, and it seemed to me that I was going to lose touch with my grandchildren if I could not text. In truth, I have discovered that I enjoy texting myself. It is quick, easy and sometimes fun, although I have difficulty spelling because my fingers are too big for the keyboard -- and my fingertips are not really large at all. The phone compensates by guessing what I am trying to say and correcting. Smart, indeed. 




How to 


When we brought the phone home, we began one of the most intensive tutorials I have ever experienced. The second daughter joined the campaign, and I was bombarded with instructions. There was no rest for this weary mama. If I so much as tried to close my eyes, there would be another commandment: "O.K., now let's learn to take pictures." 


In fact, pictures became a minor hurdle. As soon as my other daughter, who was not with us, learned I now had the phone, she bombarded me with a cohort of snapshots from her phone. There was a series of beeps as the pictures came through, telling me I needed to transfer them to my "album." 


"Why is she doing that now?" demanded her sister. "You first need to do these one at a time." Nevertheless, she succumbed and was soon transferring her own series of snapshots. 


"I don't take many pictures," wailed the other daughter, but she soon produced a collection of pictures she had taken at the recent Columbus Day party in the Jackson area. The occasion looked like fun, and I soon had quite a scrapbook. 


We took the phone to lunch. I discovered you have to be careful taking pictures. Hold it at the wrong angle, and your subject looks grotesque. At least that is what happened when I tried to take my own picture. (I was happier pretending the flaw lay in my neophyte's technique, rather than simply a true likeness.) 


Of course the smart phone has many other talents. It always knows the weather anywhere, if you can get there. You can access music, the stock market, news, and more things than I can remember, just like a computer. New technology like this boggles my mind. Sometimes I get so frustrated, I am ready to throw the smart gadgets away. Instead it seems you are supposed to keep the thing tethered to you. I have received a text chiding me for not being always available. In a sense we become servants of the server. 


But wait; there's more. These very gadgets can and do make life much easier for most people. I am determined not only to survive, but, as Faulkner said, to prevail in this brave new world. (I know I am mixing my literary allusions.) I do vow to continue my efforts to keep up with my smart phone. 


Actually, as we approach Thanksgiving, I shall try to be appropriately grateful for the many ways modern technology makes our lives more efficient. Success lies in attitude, and this is the time for me to show an attitude of gratitude. 


So I intend to be grateful for this *!#*@ smart phone and master it.

Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.