adjusting to a brave new world

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Humorous Bits
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This past weekend I finally took the plunge into the world of multi-functional handheld devices. No, I didn’t get a pen that doubles as a laser pointer. Nor did I purchase a plastic egg containing the wildly versatile Silly Putty. (It stretches! It bounces! It copies ink off newspapers!) As much fun as those things are, I ventured in a different direction, plunging headfirst into 2011 with an iPhone4. What an amazing device! Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a smart phone to make a person feel dumb.

tricky little devil

Never mind the research and soul searching preceding the purchase. The choices and variety of features available on these suckers are such that DaVinci would’ve said, “I’m outta here.” Call me crazy, but I’ve always believed a cell phone’s main purpose in life was to be a cell phone. Oh sure friends and family have continually preached otherwise as they crouched over their own little rectangular devils providing updates on everything from the latest adventures of Pippa to the mixed reviews for that Indian restaurant in town. They’d give me those superior glances as they snapped a photo and boasted seconds later it was now online. When I’d dare ask, “How’d the Mets do this afternoon?” they’d chortle before holding their phone two inches from my face where the game’s box score glowed like the devil’s playpen. I knew what they thought. “That poor dinosaur. By the time he finds out what’s going on in the world it’s already old news. He’s not even so 5 minutes ago; he’s so 5 years ago.” Their eyes revealed pity not unlike one gives a misguided child. Still I stuck firm to my belief that a phone is a phone is a phone.

Sadly, regardless of what I believe, the world pushes forward. And I suppose there’s a sort of value in keeping up with the various doings of Pippa and local Indian food. So rather than keep my dinosaur status, rather than continuing to be a lone Cro-Magnon among a community of post modern Homo sapiens, I caved. (Cro-Magnon. Caved. Ha! Comedy gold, I tell ya!)

What I’ve discovered goes far beyond any amazing technological advancements and into something far deeper. Like with other traumatic life events the new ownership of a smart phone brings with it a whole set of psychological stages its owner must pass through to become a fully realized member of the “connected society”.

Stage 1:  Gleeful Regret – This stage is categorized by an intense adrenaline rush when you tell the salesperson you want to buy a smart phone. You ask questions, get answers, and hammer out the details before signing the agreement in blood. The salesperson disappears and emerges a few moments later holding a very sleek box. Your pulse quickens. They open the box and remove the phone, then hold it up for you to see, much like one would a newborn. Although you don’t smoke you’re overcome with an urge to pass out cigars. You’re in full “Gleeful” mode.

The mood shifts. They begin doing a variety of furtive tasks to the phone – plugging and unplugging it into a mysterious, unseen doohickey behind the counter, tapping a keyboard with speed not unlike The Flash on crystal meth, all the while looking as serious as Dick Cheney at a Halliburton shareholder meeting. No one dares speak. During this forced silence you remember the old you, the you of yesterday, and wonder when and why you crossed that invisible line from “a cell phone is only a phone” to “this mini-computer also has a phone”. You begin to rethink the cost, not only of the phone, but of your newly inflated monthly bill. You stare at that thing being programmed not 3 feet away and can’t imagine how it will ever fit in your pocket. A thin line of sweat breaks out across your brow as you recall all the times you’ve dropped your current phone and it bounced like a rogue basketball across a busy street. My god, what have you done? I’ll tell you what you’ve done. You’ve embraced “Regret”.

Stage 2:  Nervous Anticipation – You regroup and conquer the bout of regret long enough to leave the store and head home, your nifty new purchase safely tucked away in a stylish bag. As you merge onto the highway you notice the other drivers are driving much more recklessly than they did a mere hour ago. You think, “Why is that trucker in the 18 wheeler riding my bumper? Doesn’t he know I have precious cargo aboard?” You wish for a yellow iPhone on Board sign to plaster on the rear window, but it’s not to be. Instead you proceed with the overcompensating deliberation of someone carrying a lead beaker of plutonium across a floor of marbles. Or like that old man across the street backing out of his driveway.

Stage 3:  Joyful Celebration – You’re home, you’re safe! You carefully place the bag on the table, remove and open the box, and take out the new addition. It’s time to dance the Dance of Joy! Then 30 seconds later…

Stage 4:  Stressful Confusion – Well, there it sits. The questions come like an Uzi emptying itself into your brain. “How did they say to turn it on? Why are keyboards popping up for no reason? How do I make a call? This thing does make phone calls, right?? How come my teenage daughter works the screen like Monet worked a canvas, yet I can’t figure out the Weather app? And why does she tell me to stop tapping the screen with my fingernail?” Then, “Okay, now I need a keyboard. How did I do that before? I’m swiping my finger across the screen and all I get are trails of finger oil.” Pause. “Hmmm, I wonder how far I can throw this.” You quickly realize the best course of action during Stage 4 is a stiff drink.

Stage 5:  Baby Steps – Alright, a contact was added! You begin thinking that in your excitement you’re tapping the screen with too much vigor. After all, how durable is this thing really? If a light touch makes things pop up, expand, close, move and do somersaults how sturdy can it be? It’s late and it’s all too much to process. You decide to call it a day and lock your precious in a strongbox for the night.

gossip girl

Stage 6:  Breakthrough! – A new day, a new beginning! Refreshed, it all becomes clear. A few downloaded apps later, aided by a more thorough peek at the User’s Guide, and you’re sailing! What a variety of important goodies literally at your fingertips! Oooo look, an app that acts like a cigarette lighter. That’s cool!  Oooo look, an app that makes your face contort and look like something from a funhouse mirror!  Oooo look, a mood finger scan!  Oooo look, Talking Tina the Giraffe!  (She’s so cute!) How did you live without this all this stuff?

Wait! What’s that noise? The mini-computer is making a strange noise!  It sounds like a…a…a ringing of some sort. Why is it ringing? Stop that! Stop ringing! Doesn’t it know Tina is talking? Doesn’t it know I’m hungry for Vindaloo Chicken?? And for goodness sakes, doesn’t it realize there’s a hot rumor abounding about Pippa in Monaco???

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