A dumbass buys a smartphone
By Mencken’s Ghost
Sept. 29, 2012
As a demonstration of my higher IQ, I fell in my pool several weeks ago while carrying a stack of dead palm fronds. My old-fashioned but trusty flip-top cellphone was in my pocket and drowned.
As further proof of my higher IQ, I replaced it with a smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S III, which is highly rated by tech gurus.
It is indeed a technological marvel. But so is the technology used in a colonoscopy. The difference is that a colonoscopy is a more pleasurable experience than using a smartphone.
With my former dumbphone (RIP), I would hear it ring while driving, flip it open, and begin speaking. With my new phone, I hear it ring, flip open the case, tilt the screen so that it’s out of the sun and doesn’t reflect a glare like a mirror, squint at the screen while looking for the green icon showing an incoming call, put my finger on the icon, and slide my finger to the right to speak.
Sometimes the touch screen doesn’t respond to my finger and I have to slide it again while muttering and twitching as if I have Tourette’s syndrome.
Strangely, I often hear cars honking and the screeching of brakes when I go through this long process. Soon after, other drivers pass and give me the finger. Maybe their anger stems from them owning a smartphone.
It was even worse the other day. The phone rang and I went through the multi-step answering process, only to get a screen that listed a number of call-rejection messages and asked me to select one. But I wanted to accept the call, not reject it, because it was an important call. Well, forget that. I couldn’t figure out how to bypass the call-rejection screen and take the call.
What caused the call-rejection screen to pop up? Well, as it does randomly and sporadically, the phone had changed my settings on its own. I had to change them back in another multi-step process.
I hope that the nuclear “football” that accompanies the president wherever he goes doesn’t have similar technology.
The president doesn’t leave home without the football, and I don’t leave home without a phone charger. That’s because the new phone burns power faster than Congress burns money, even though I have it set on a low power setting, which means that it quickly goes into sleep mode and has to be awakened by pushing a button each time I want to use it. My former dumbphone would go a week without recharging.
I also could make and receive calls at home with the dumbphone. Now, even with the same cell provider, Verizon, I get such poor reception in my house that I have to go out to the street to make calls. I’m thinking of moving my desk to the street so that I don’t miss incoming calls.
Granted, there are some positive features with the smartphone, such as the GPS map and directions feature. The feature is much easier to use than the GPS in my one-year-old Toyota. In fact, I’ve never figured out how to use the Toyota one, because it is very counterintuitive and because the instruction manual doesn’t match what appears on the screen. Even the dealer can’t figure out how to use it. Curiously, when I try to use the Toyota GPS while driving, I get even more honking, screeching and middle fingers than when I use the smartphone.
Some people say that texting and emailing are easy to do on a smartphone. But I’m such a strange duck that I don’t text or email my wife or friends when I’m sitting across from them at a restaurant or bar. I’d rather speak to them face to face. And if I’m waiting somewhere, I’d rather read a book than spend my time texting and emailing.
Besides, a Tourette’s fit has resulted from the few times that I have texted or emailed. That’s because typing on the tiny touch-screen keyboard is like trying to thread a needle blindfolded or, worse, read a smartphone screen in the sun. If I touch one letter on the keyboard, a different letter frequently appears in the text or email. An “R,” for example, becomes a “T.”
It’s even more frustrating that the smartphone tries to finish words for me. If, for example, I want to type “autopilot,” the smartphone takes over after the first four letters and finishes the word as “automobile.” Thus, if I want to tell a friend that “Congress has been on autopilot,” it comes out as “Congress has been on automobile.”
I’m going to try typing “kill the phone” to see how it reacts. Better yet, I’d like to shove the phone somewhere in the anatomy of one of the engineers who designed it. I can picture him having a colonoscopy and the doctor saying, “Are you aware that you have a vibrating phone up there?”
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org but not on his smartphone.