Monday, March 12, 2012

Can you hear me now?

Over the weekend, I bought an iPhone4s. This is either one of the smartest things I’ve ever done or one of the dumbest.

I am one of the least “techie” people on the planet, totally not into trying to keep up with a personal electronics scene that changes at the speed of light. You’re talking to the person who put off getting a cell phone for years and years and when I finally did get one, it was one of those pre-paid, no frills jobs.

The pre-paid no frills job served its purpose. It made and received calls. When I had to replace it five years ago (note to self: zip phone securely into jacket pocket before shaking coat to remove dog hair while standing on cement parking lot), I got another pre-paid no frills phone. This one had the dubious benefit of texting, which took forever and largely gave me a headache. When I started having problems with it, I found out that customer service was considered a “frill” to which I was not entitled.

I decided it was time for a major upgrade. I’ve wanted a smart phone since playing on a friend’s several months ago. The problem was obvious: did I want to spent big bucks on an electronic gizmo that might require a 7-year-old to show me how to use it? I really don’t need something else in my life that makes me feel like an idiot. That’s what Phoenix is for and he considers it a full-time job.

This was a scary decision. I have reached the age where change is not as easily embraced as it once was. My old flip phone was boring but at least I had it figured out. Sort of.

The guy at the phone store was very nice. He was also very patient, clearly recognizing I was not a member of the electronic whiz kid generation. That’s good, since I was old enough to be his mother. If he had been patronizing or condescending I probably would have walked out. We managed to have a coherent conversation that did not leave me feeling like I needed to hire a technogeek-to-English translator.

An hour later, I walked out with my very first iPhone. I suspect new parents bringing their first baby home from the hospital may feel the same way - very proud and happy, all the while scared to death that they do not have a freaking clue what they are doing.

I’ve been a firm believer in instruction manuals all my life. I’ve been able to install, set-up, program and troubleshoot all manner of household electronics using instruction manuals. When I asked the guy at the phone store if my new phone came with an instruction manual he did a very credible job of not laughing out loud.

No, he said, it doesn’t, but you can go to YouTube and watch tutorials.

Doesn’t anyone read anymore? Let’s not go there.

Having successfully set up our iMac at home largely without the benefit of an instruction manual a few years ago, this was not as daunting of a proposition as it might have been.

Besides, without the presence of a manual to keep me on the straight and narrow, I explored a new approach to learning things - push buttons and see what happens. This worked better than one might think. I got a new respect for click-and-treat method of training - making the phone do what I wanted was so reinforcing I couldn’t wait to try making it do something else.

I was sitting in my van in the Wal-Mart parking lot, checking my e-mail, when I had the sudden thought that I’d either joined the 21st century or possibly withdrawn from it. Was I on the path to becoming one of those blank-faced, glassy-eyed citizens of the planet who is constantly interacting with some sort of electronic device while ignoring the living, breathing creatures around her? (Not a chance. The creatures I live with are to be ignored at one's own peril.)

The phone itself was amazingly easy to figure out and let me remind you, on a technogeek scale of 1 to 10, I am probably a -5. The guy at the phone store gave me a crash course in the basics: Web browsing, e-mail, texting, Facebook, camera, video and downloading apps. I hoped I didn’t sound too dumb (this is a lost cause because if you’re worried about sounding dumb, you do) when I asked, “Um, how do I make a phone call?”

He looked at me blankly for a few seconds and then said, “Oh, yeah. It works great as a phone, too.”

Truly, I am not of his generation.


  1. Oh how I LOVE my iPhone!!! I resisted for so long and finally bought one last summer. Best. Thing. Ever. It's so well integrated from one system to the on an address in your email or on a website and it takes you over to the map, where you can then get directions from your current location! LOVE it!!!

  2. It will also work as a GPS... love the navigation feature on my phone (always up to date and faster loading than my Garmin). Download an app called "Around Me" (the icon is a blue square with a red push pin in it). It will show you the closest hospital (might come in handy!), restaurant, gas station, bank, hotel, etc... And don't forget to download "Agility City"... a fun game to play while you wait somewhere.

  3. I love my iphone! I also found it pretty user friendly. I don't like having to learn how to use new equipment so I was pleased with this feature.