Last week I left the Dark Ages.
I bought a smartphone.
I went from this:
Even though I didn't get an iPhone 6, it was still quite the major upgrade, as you can see.
For years, I prided myself on not needing a smartphone. In fact, as recently as six months ago, my little phone with its pull-out keyboard and horrible camera and no internet capabilities suited me just fine.
When I read Tsh Oxenreider's thoughts from Notes From a Blue Bike, they rang true for me: "I was a late adapter to the smartphone phenomenon [She got her first one in October 2012. What does that make me two years later?]; I found them a colossal waste of money and brain cells. People honestly need to carry around their computers in their pants? I can live without that. I'm civilized."
My thoughts exactly.
But then little things started to bug me: I'd be at the zoo with my kids, and I couldn't take a picture of them next to the lions. Mike and I would be out on a date, and we couldn't look up restaurant ratings. I'd go to send a text to someone and be reminded again that my inbox was 98 percent full, even though I had just cleaned it out two weeks before.
What's more, it began to be a social inconvenience. Friends would text me a picture, and my phone couldn't receive it because it was too big. I'd be out shopping with someone and couldn't pull up an address or a coupon. I'd be scheduling a play date but couldn't look at my calendar to see if we were free on Monday afternoon. (Not to mention that people felt a little awkward when I pulled out my dinosaur so I could add them as a contact . . . except for my little five-year-old piano student who saw my phone laying on the piano one day and said, "That is the coolest phone I've ever seen!" in the same way you might say, "That is the coolest typewriter I've ever seen.")
This holding out until the last possible moment is nothing new for me. I was a late arrival to the cell phone party. My freshman year of college, I called my parents every few days from my dorm phone with a calling card. When I finally got a phone, I can remember rationing my minutes, finding out which service all my friends used, and limiting my calls until after 9:00 at night (when minutes were free). Pretty soon after that, I was the only one not texting. Even though my phone could receive texts, I never opened them because extra fees would be charged if I did. I had to constantly remind people, "I don't open texts. Please call instead." But eventually, the inconvenience grew to be too much, and I finally caved (which, for an introvert like me, was definitely a good thing since I much prefer texting to calling).
Over the last few months, I have felt the same nudging irritation I felt before. I only knew of one of my friends who still used a dumb phone, and honestly, one of the reasons I kept holding out was because I would think, If Jen can do this, so can I. But then, a couple of months ago, even Jen showed up to book club with a smartphone, and I knew it was finally time (plus, I had secured the bragging rights of resisting the pull of the smartphone longer than she did . . . as if that's anything to brag about).
Since getting the phone last week, I've been rather like a kid at Christmastime. I delight in badgering Siri with questions. I gape when I take a picture and it identifies where I am. I thrill at the simplicity of downloading a podcast and listening to it instantly. Even though they've been around for years, I am newly amazed at what this tiny little device can do for me.
Last Wednesday, I was shopping at Michaels. I was there to purchase a jar of mod podge. The cost was $8.99, and it wasn't on sale. I wish I'd remembered to bring a coupon, I thought. Bing! Light bulb went off. I reached into my back pocket for my phone, pulled up a 40-percent off coupon, and waited nervously in line. Act casual, I told myself. "I have a coupon," I told the cashier and showed him my phone. I watched in breathless anticipation as he scanned the bar code. $3.60 saved, just like that. "Thank you," I said demurely. It took all my self-control not to click my heels as I walked out the doors. I'd only had that phone for two days, and it was already saving me money!