The Sunday Poll: Do I Need To Knock It Off And Just Get a Smart Phone?

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.

My dumb phone.

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.



Add yours →

  1. I have the same phone as you!

  2. I loled at “dumb-phones”.. Get a smart phone. I was late on board myself. I didn’t pick up an android tele until January ’11.. There are some apps I use regularly which help me in my profession of ‘flipping’ things.. You should have one, too..

  3. I think smart phones are very useful gadgets and I really enjoy having one. I no longer need to worry too much about internet problems on my laptop or computer since I also have access to the net through my smart phone, just in case. It can also be used as a modem for my laptop, though this also depends on the kind of contract you have (you need affordable download rates, preferably a flatrate).
    Generally I would say I like technical gadgets, even though I am not an early adopter. My strategy is to wait until prices fall and the technology has also matured, e.g. I wouldn’t buy a tablet pc now because they cannot compete with good netbooks yet, apart from being smaller and looking better. As far as smart phones are concerned, though, I think there are a quite few good options available to choose from by now.
    For me it is a pleasure to get my emails and reply (if I like or need to) in real time, and I also appreciate getting and making social network updates at any moment. Also, I no longer need to take along any books or magazines to keep myself entertained while waiting for something or somebody, all I need to do is to browse the latest news on my phone.
    And, of course, you can also post your blogs on the go, though I admit I haven’t done it so far. But I’m sure one day I’ll do that, too… The only thing I don’t like about smart phones is that they tend to force you to give your apps free access to almost all your data, which I find very annoying. Don’t know if it is my fault, but I find it much harder to control my privacy on the phone than on a normal computer. Most apps ask if you want to change the default settings during installation, but if you do, many of them simply refuse to work. You can’t even start them!
    Anyway, I hope you’ll find a solution that is really convenient for you, whether it is getting a smart phone or being happy offline once in a while 😉

    • Yes, I am so suspicious of all the apps which access your info. Blogging on the go would be a plus, that’s true. Thanks for chiming in. (by the way, I’m moderating this from my iPad…)

  4. I say that you should make sure you’re ready for it first. I didn’t think I’d enjoy having a smartphone as much as I do, and I can’t really imagine going back. it does feel a bit redundant sometimes having both an Android and a wi-fi iPad, but it does make things easier to have everything at your fingertips. However, if you’re expecting an email, it makes it worse to know you can check it at any time and you would know if you got a response, rather than just checking when you get home to find out.

  5. I recently struggled over this one myself, as I had always celebrated the “unconnected me.” You know what actually won me over? GPS. I have a terrible sense of direction, and if I could count the number of times I got lost on the way to an assignment… well… let’s just say that I get lost a lot.

    One pleasant side-effect that I noticed was that I now spend LESS time checking my emails and in front of a computer. An email comes in to my phone, I briefly glance at it, then (if not an urgent notice from an editor or boss) file it away to be dealt with when I have time/an inclination to sit down at my actual computer. That means I’m no longer shackled to my laptop after sending off a pitch (did the editor write me back? Maybe I didn’t hear it while I was running the vacuum/washing dishes/having a life etc), and I spend a lot less time neurotically booting up my computer.

    Another thing I’ve found is that EVERY EDITOR out there has one, and that most of the high-falutin’ interview subjects you might come across in your writing will expect you to have one, too… and they get irritated when you don’t.

    (….but I absolutely refuse to install mobile Facebook, Twitter or any other app that exists purely for wasting time…)

    Anyway. My two cents as a fellow freelancer. 🙂 Hope all’s well in Philly!

    • Thanks for the visit/comment, Lindsay. Always nice to hear from you. I can see the truth of what you say about mobile devices freeing you up to deal with non-essential things later. I do sometimes answer e-mail, etc from my iPad, but it doesn’t feel the same as being at my computer – I am in more of a “work” mindset when I sit down at the keys and I can focus better. I think what you say about editors is true. I joined Flickr and YouTube at an editor’s urging, but have yet to join Twitter, etc…

  6. Alaina, your blogs always has a way of making me laugh, especially the photo of your dumb phone. Just get the phone when you’re ready. They’re always coming out with the latest. I will never forget the comment my son, who is 8 years old said to me when I was upgrading my phone to the iPhone 4. He said, “Mom, I’ll just wait until later to get one. They’ll be out with the iPhone 22 by the time I get to high school.”

    • What a sensible lad!! It’s true that as soon as you spend your life savings on the latest phone, it’s obsolete and you’re supposed to buy the next one.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. And thanks for your comments!

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