The Perils of cell phone envy

September 1, 2008 | By More

I have never been a big cell phone fan.

However, I am now absolutely addicted and don’t know how I would get along without one.

I grew up watching the television show Get Smart where Secret Agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe. For those of you too young to remember — the first cell phones where just about that big. They were called bag phones because you carried the battery around in a bag.

Then, as the phones got smaller — the size of a pop-tart box — we began calling them cell phones. Now I would say they are more the size of a deck of cards. We have come a long way.

I had my “deck of cards” size phone for many years and, even thought it didn’t have a bunch of fancy tricks like the newer phones, we were happy together. My children would make fun of my old phone but I didn’t care. I knew where all the buttons were and which ones and in what order to punch to get to my information.

So, no matter how much they laughed and teased, I was determined to keep my old phone. That was until a few months ago when I went to a training seminar and several of us had our phones sitting on the table. All of a sudden, I had this moment of panic. Everyone else had newer models with fancy options.

I became very self-conscious of my phone. I began to think, “They are all looking at my phone and saying to themselves: ‘she needs to upgrade’.” I actually picked up my phone and put it back in my purse. I guess that “keeping up with the Jones” thing can still be a challenge because you guessed it — I have ‘upgraded.’

My new phone is a hand-me-down from my son who has upgraded to a “Blackjack.” I have no idea what my phone is called – all I know is we are not getting along very well. There are just too many options and I get all confused.

They tell me it takes pictures but I have no idea how to use it or what to do with the picture once I take it. It was only recently that I learned how to transfer the pictures from my digital camera to the computer. Up until then, it was as if my camera was a black hole for photographs. They went in and never came back out.

Let me tell you, the learning curve for my phone is much steeper.

I had always secretly wished that my old phone were smaller just so it would be easier to carry around. Now that I have my smaller phone, it is a perfect lesson in “be careful what you wish for.”

Oh, it is much easier to carry around, but at my age, I no longer have the eyesight to see the tiny little alphabet letters on the keys. Seems I need a much larger phone, or at least a pair of reading glasses.

Some of you may be confused as to why I am concerned about those tiny little letters, when numbers should be the important component. Those of you who are not confused are probably under the age of 40 and have the position of those tiny letters memorized.

Yes, I am referring to ‘texting.’ It is the secret language of the young, or should I say, of those younger than me. I have also discovered it is an amazingly effective way to communicate with my teenage sons. They will pretty much answer as many questions as I ask – but only if it is text. If I had discovered this several years ago I could have saved us all a lot of misery.

One of the best things about texting is I can pretend my boys enjoy answering my questions. You can’t see any rolling of the eyes or hear that “gosh are you really that stupid?” tone when communicating by text. As far as I am concerned, we are having a pleasant exchange of information.

I have also discovered another very effective way to use texting. For those times that your child refuses to answer your call, text them something like this, “If I do not hear from you in five minutes, you will be grounded or I will come looking for you.” My phone usually rings in less than a minute.

There is one gargantuan problem with my newfound texting knowledge, which my children find most entertaining. I am very sloooow. I could have called 100 times by the time I get a text written.

I guess I am going to have to go back to a bigger phone or get stronger reading glasses.  

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