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JANICE WELLS: When your smartphone is a little smarter than you need

"I used to wonder why people were always staring at their phones..." - 123RF Stock Photo

Remember the good old days, when the dreaded words you don’t want to hear meant a health issue, and obviously, when the word “dreaded” is used, you know its going to be bad.

Now there are other dreaded words: you need a new computer or cell phone. This, some of you might not understand, is also a health issue for some of us. If I had stress-related problems, I might not be here today telling you all about it because I may have had a stroke. If I had serious mental health problems I may have slit my wrists.

Gin and Tonic Boomer

As it is, I went to the liquor store. That’s how I feel about technology.

It doesn’t seem like so long ago that I was thinking, ‘why on earth does everybody need a cell phone anyway?’ Then I got one, because we all should have them in case we get stranded on the highway some night, right?

Then daughter #2 got pregnant and I thought if I could text her instead of phoning I wouldn’t disturb her if she was resting, so I got a "smart" phone.

Right after that, I developed the twitch. Haha.

The whole concept was wrong from the get-go anyway. They should never have called it a smartphone. Right away, you feel intimidated because you know it knows way more than you do.

But there are no flies on me. I quickly learned to send texts and to phone people. Answering was a bit trickier, and I decided to ignore voice mail.

I thought that was it. I used to wonder why people were always staring at their phones. The thing is, I wasn’t all that interested. Then, on a stay in the hospital, I found out that I could listen to the radio on it all night long.

Well, that put my smartphone in a whole new light. Newman brought me in a pair of earphones and I was in radio heaven. He didn’t tell me I had to ‘log into the hospital’s wifi’. He says he assumed I would know that, but I think he didn’t realize it either because that was in the very early days and he didn’t know much more than I did.

So then I got a bill for almost $200 because I went over my data. I didn’t even know what data was but it put the fear of God in me, so I called the phone company, got it explained and then told them I didn’t want any data.

They should never have called it a smartphone. Right away, you feel intimidated because you know it knows way more than you do.

A month or so later, I got a message warning me that I was in danger of exceeding my data. I called them again. I said please put NO DATA on my file in red letters. I am now dataless and quite happy.

I did learn about wifi and can do a few extra things when I am "connected." I don’t just take pictures; I know how to edit pictures. The night I discovered podcasts, I felt I was finally sitting at the grown-up’s table.

I still knew that no matter how long I live I will never know how to do one millionth of the things this phone can do and even though I’ll never want to do most it anyway, it kind of bugs me.

And, like all things manufactured these days, my phone was not built to last forever, so I girded my loins and off I went.

I kept the same brand, but of course, you have to keep up with the model too. A nice young man named Jeff was helping me when along came another woman about my age. I told her I might be a while and she said she didn’t mind because Jeff was so patient she didn’t want to talk to anyone else. She said she’d been there every second day since she got her new phone.

I was glad she was there because then I didn’t feel so bad. She said she told all her senior friends about Jeff and I looked at poor Jeff and wondered how he was feeling about that.

Two hours later, I left.

“See you tomorrow,” I told Jeff.

Janice Wells offers her own unique take on life as a baby boomer, often served up with a twist of humour and a splash of gin. She lives in St. John’s, N.L., and tends a lovely garden there whenever fog, sleet, snow and gale-force winds permit.


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