view from central park

Flipping out: Finally, I got a smartphone!


While  many people I know are all too excited to be the proud owners of upgraded technology that boasts the latest and the greatest, I’ve been indifferent. More than indifferent, actually. Secretly, I thought the hype was ridiculous, something I couldn’t relate to. Granted, I am a bit of a luddite.

But this week I joined the herd and joined the smartphone world.

I had reached the point where good friends were finding it frustrating to communicate with me. Smartphone texts weren’t compatible with my old-school flip phone (which I also got late in the game), not to mention not being able to receive photos or things like that. I texted minimally, for logistics only, never for conversations. I was happy with the arrangement. The last thing I wanted was to be reachable by everyone, all the time.

People in my orbit knew that they couldn’t expect an instant reply from me, because I didn’t have a smartphone. They knew we’d either connect on the phone or when I had a chance to check my email on my computer.

I valued my stillness and peace of mind, my emotional energy not hijacked by others. Also, the constant scrolling and icons flashing, the sheer speed of it all, felt overwhelming. Let alone access to the constant clickbait content that was ridiculous. (Let me state on record right now that if I ever take one of those quizzes that will enlighten me about my character, based on my taste in films or food habits, please, I implore you, stage an intervention on the spot and have the phone removed from my possession.)

BBottom line, I’m an old fashioned face-to-face kind of person. Often when I meet with friends and they’re constantly checking their phones I find it rude. Of course I keep my lips pursed because I understand this is normative contemporary behavior. I guess I am the non-normative one.

That said, you’d think I’d be thrilled with my purchase. It is a smartphone after all. I can text, talk, browse the internet, all with ease. A couple of friends checked in with comments such as, how are you doing with the phone? Isn’t it great? So exciting — are you loving it? But that is not my state of mind at all.

For starters, I have constant circles of faces floating on my phone, a visual of anyone who randomly decided to leave me a Facebook message. They are right there, at my bedside, in my kitchen, at the dining table. Ugh! I feel like my privacy has been invaded! I better learn how to get rid of that feature pronto. (Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being social and hospitable. I live in an apartment building where people come and go from my apartment all the time.)

Then, there are the videos. Every time I try to scroll through Facebook (yup, was late to the party on that, too), a blast of noise is emitted from each video as it starts up, to be halted only by me bypassing it.

The worst was me joining WhatsApp for about 13 seconds. The moment I saw the list of names of people in my social network and understood what it was and how it worked, I panicked, removing myself not a moment too soon.

Phew. I dodged that one, I thought to myself.

Which is ironic, because the true impetus for my getting the smartphone was so I could be in better contact with my youngest brother who, together with my sister-in-law and new baby, moved to Israel. Everyone kept saying, you need to get WhatsApp, that way you can easily keep in touch, and see pictures of your new adorable nephew.

So much for that. I better just book an El Al flight to Israel. And be grateful for face-to-face Shabbat dinner — during my once-a-week pause when it’s legit to unplug and enjoy the luxury of being a Luddite.

Let’s see how long I last on this smartphone. Meanwhile, I kept my flip phone, nice and secure, as back-up.

Copyright Intermountain Jewish News