Every once in awhile, I get a tiny moment’s assurance that I am not the biggest troglodyte in the world. There are still other people who do not have an iPhone or similar sleek piece o’ internet magic in the palm of their hands.
I’ve always been a late adopter. I think my dislike of technology began back in second grade, when the kids who finished their math assignments early got to play computer games. I was always laboring over my math problems with my paper and pencil right up to the bell, and so never got a chance to try the games. Perhaps, as I refuse to get a smart phone, I’m still the same little kid trying to convince herself that computer games aren’t that much fun, anyway.
Last week I got an e-mail from a photographer about scheduling an assignment we were given. We had never worked together before.
“Alaina, let me give you my number,” he wrote. “I don’t have a smart phone so I sometimes don’t see my emails until it’s too late.”
After I gave him my own phone number, since I also cannot be reached by e-mail at all times at all corners of the globe, his e-mail provoked two thoughts.
First, the phrase “sometimes I don’t see my emails until it’s too late”, is, I think, all too typical of the age we’re living in. “Until it’s too late” sounds less like “beyond the time that is optimally convenient to the sender of the message” and more like “I’m aware that the apocalypse will arrive if this message is not received within the expected timeframe” (i.e., NOW).
Secondly, for some reason, his words made me wonder for the first time what the photographer and I have, if it’s not a “smart” phone. The implication is clear. Nice move, Apple et al. You didn’t even have to say it, and I’m already thinking it.
I work with many people who do have smart phones. One editor in particular can answer e-mails more quickly than the sun’s rays can reach Mercury. I recently left a voice message for another editor several hours before I was scheduled to cover an event, to let her know that I was sick and someone should replace me. She replied to the message with an e-mail, which I didn’t get until I could sit down at my computer a few hours later. In the meantime, I was worried that the world was ending out there.
It’s true, I’ve missed potential assignments because I was running around the city with nothing but my dumb-phone, and no-one thought to call me directly instead of sending an e-mail. I do have a wifi-enabled iPad (acquired in an unusual fashion, to be sure), but when I take it with me, I feel shackled to my online messages. I’m overcome by the sensation that dreadful things will happen if I do not moderate blog comments RIGHT NOW. I feel like there is no excuse for not immediately answering anything anyone sends me, be they colleague, reader, family, friend or foe.
And then it’s pretty hard to get anything else done.
I use my phone for calls and text messages and for snapping blurry pictures of rainbows. I generally use the iPad for playing Boggle in bed when I can’t sleep.
But the undeniable fact is, my day-to-day technology is behind that of most of my colleagues and editors. The world is always moving. Things are never going back to the way they were, and eventually I’m going to have to step out of the technological caboose.
And so we come to the poll.