Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On Technology

Today, my friend the Wizard Chimp* arrived for a 5-day visit. This is a good thing.

Chimpy is one of those people who never met a gadget or social media format she didn't like. Her main packing issues were what bits of technology she should take with her.** Things like clothes were secondary.

She finds my approach to technology... cute. Two incidents from this morning illustrate the wide spectrum of non-technophobes' use of technology:

1. She saw my phone, and it was like she'd entered Amish country. A couple of years ago, I dropped my contract-based cell phone, and it gave up the ghost a few months before the two-year contract period expired, which would seem to have required me to pay hundreds of dollars for a cheap phone from the service provider's store.*** I emphatically did not want to do that, so the helpful person at the phone place suggested I go to the nearest big box electronics store and buy a burner phone. They would then install my SIM card in the new, disposable thingy. I had no idea you could do this. So I did, and paid $30 for a phone, the features of which include: 1) sending and receiving phone calls, and 2) sending and receiving text messages. There is not even a cheap camera in it, which is fine, because I have a real camera. And this morning, I left it at home. "I can't believe my best friend is someone who doesn't have a smart phone, and doesn't even bother to take the phone she has with her," she said.

2. While Chimpy checked in with the gazillion social media things she's on, I paid my bills. While much of this was done online, the process included writing things down in my paper checkbook register, doing the math in my head, and scribbling out a monthly budget on the back of a credit card receipt to figure out how much money Visa got this month. She was agog with wonder.

Now, as you know, I don't have a problem with technology. I, of course, have a bit of web presence. I use things like Scrivener and Zotero to get my work done. I ditched the landline ages ago. But I think our approach differs in where we draw the line between "necessity" and "convenience" (and also, perhaps, "too much of a pain in the ass to bother with"). We find each other's approach an endless source of amusement. And the fact that we can be amused, rather than disdainful, is part of why we're such good friends.

*It's a long story.

**She ended up with: iPad + portable keyboard, smart phone, kindle, and digital camera. I think.

***Seriously, this whole thing about getting sucked into a two-year contract to avoid paying $300 for even a cheap-ass phone? It makes me indignant. There is technology you need, so you pay for it. Then there is technology that marketers try to convince you you need, and they charge you through the nose for it. Grrr....


Comrade PhysioProf said...

I am an extremely social person, but there are few things I despise more than talking on the phone. All I can think about when I'm on the phone is when the fucke I'll be able to get off.

NNR said...

I did NOT have a Kindle! I bring my Kindle only when I've packed my Air rather than the iPad. Jeez. Also, I do *realize* I'm very spoiled. Pout. On a funny note, a patient handed me his flip phone and asked me how to do something with it. I had to tell him I had no idea how to use the thing anymore. I could probably place a call, but beyond that I would be poking haplessly at the screen or something.