Monday, January 16, 2017

                                                            AMERICA’S LAST FLIP PHONE

But I’m writing this on a computer, so I’m not that behind the times.  And my abacus has 10 beads!

I live in Northern California…just a stone’s throw, (and about two and a half hours by car) from Silicon Valley, Hi Tech Capital of the World.

This makes my lack of appetite for every new gadget that comes down the pike a little more striking than it might be if I lived in, say, Vladivostok, Russia.  When I want to make a call, or receive a call, I pull out my flip phone, (Lovingly referred to my ‘dumb phone.’)  This, opposed to what, seemingly every native Californian over the age of six seemingly has, a ‘smart phone.’

Lately, to cover my shame, I have taken to seeking solitude away from prying eyes when making a call.  But one doesn’t have that option when the phone chimes an incoming call in a public setting..  A choice arises; should I answer it and subject myself to looks of derision,  sneers, or worse, pity?  Or would it be preferable to let it ring until the caller either hangs up or leaves a message. I can retrieve it later, away from all those superior humans?

Everyone I know not only has a smart phone, but feels it a moral imperative that I, too, must join the twenty first century, and that is their duty as compassionate humans, to cajole, force, or shame me into having a smart phone.  After all, if one doesn’t own a smart phone, the reasoning goes, it follows that one is not smart.

Not only is it their messianic responsibility to save my silicon based soul, I must not only acquire a smart phone, I must replace it at minimum, once a year with the latest more, sophisticated, and more expensive super model.

I will admit, it is miraculous to watch as my friends put their phones thru their many paces.  The vocal commands are, to me the stuff of science fiction.  “Smart phone, what did Babe Ruth have for breakfast the day he hit his sixtieth home run?”  Within three seconds, the answer to this and many other crucial bits of information are related back to questioner.  “Smart phone, set a route from my home to a Seven Eleven in Biloxi, Mississippi.”  Forget the fact that there are other ways to get that done.  If one own a properly modern smart phone, no other gadgets are needed, although I have yet to see one with a built in electric toothbrush, or lawn mower But I’ve learned not to rule out anything, and the manufacturers must keep adding features lest risking that people might become complacent with the units they already own.  Bad for business.

The list of possible applications for today’s smart phone seems endless.  Games of all sorts; live television streaming from home; applications to lock and unlock your car or home from any place on earth. not to speak of controlling the lights, heat, appliances and pet monitoring.  All in that little rectangular miracle.  It can take photographs superior to all but the most sophisticated professional cameras.  I have heard it said that one can even make and receive telephone calls.

So here’s a partial justification for my little flip ‘dumb phone.’  I am not making an anti technology statement.  If I were, I would probably not own any type of mobile phone.  I like the idea of being able to call the cops if I wreck my car or get a flat tire out in the boondocks.  Staying in touch to a certain degree is reassuring, especially as the pitfalls of age encroach on my physical self reliance.  Although, with all that, there are times when I just want my phone on it’s silent mode, and to be away from everything and everyone.

So, I can make phone calls with my phone.  I am able to receive calls with my phone,  I can take photos, but they probably can’t be blown up to mural size.  I can even send and receive text messages.  I actually have done this on a couple of occasions, but choose not to.  I don’t think I can make my dumb phone retrieve my emails, however.  It’s OK!  To prove I am not an anti civilization luddite, I DO have a computer, and I DO send and get emails.  It’s just that I don’t feel it pressing to read each one within milliseconds of  it’s reception.  And I use the computer almost every day.  (If I didn’t there would be even more misspelled words in this piece!)

So, facing the daily onslaught of derision, I still have no intention of getting a smart phone.  Yet, I know that if I did, I would in all likelihood wonder how I ever existed without it.  And I’d want a new one to better enable me to carry on translated communications with beings from distant planets.

As more and more people go higher and higher up the tech ladder, I’m happy to be here on my comfortable rung.  But there are a few benefits, aside from those already mentioned;  My current plan costs me a little over $100 a YEAR!  And even with that, I never use all the minutes I have purchased.  I just roll them over.  Currently I have well over three thousand unused minutes; my dumb flip phone fits in my shirt pocket, and the screen is protected when the phone is closed; Finally, and this is of supreme, (if irrational) importance.  Flip phones are becoming rarer and rarer just like antique automobiles, they will likely prove to be wonderful investments.  If you too have a flip phone, I encourage you to smash it.  This will hasten the day I can sell the last dumb phone on earth, mine, to the Smithsonian , Btitish Museum or an eccentric millionaire for an exorbitant sum. 

I don’t know how long it will take to achieve these dreams of riches.  It may be my heirs will see the benefit.  How long?  I wish I knew.  Perhaps if you have an up to date smart phone, you could calculate the date for me.