Today is Why-day

Most of my adult life I’ve tried to keep up with the latest technology, but lately, I’ve fallen behind. Recently, my son asked me with a grin  as he looked at my cell, “Mom, isn’t it time you got a “grown-up” phone?” I answered I really didn’t need one. In addition to my bundled land-line, I have a cell phone that takes photos (in case I’m in an accident), a slide-out qwerty keyboard that enables me to easily text a friend with a hearing disability, voice mail, and unused Internet that drains the battery, besides the obvious ability—phoning people. And it is cheap to own and use each month. So what if my phone is dumb, not smart!?

As a writer, my home and office are located in the same place, so I don’t need traffic and weather reports, or coordination with carpool members. My home computer provides most of the information I need each day and connection with the outside world, and I have GPS in my car.

I’m probably shocking a lot of you readers, but I’ve seen some of you isolate yourselves from the art of conversation at the doctor’s or dentist’s offices, in the grocery store line, at the hair salon, in restaurants, etc. How can I learn how to develop my characters if no one will talk with me?

I remember years ago when I had my dance business; I depended a great deal on my answering machine for acquiring jobs. When messages changed from analog to digital, I suddenly found it difficult to understand them. The digital ones were tinny and it sounded like people were mumbling far off in a concert hall. I still have that trouble. When people call me now, I ask them to call me back on my land line, because I have difficulty understanding them on my cell. I even had my hearing checked to see if it was just me. Nope, I have great hearing.

But, my son’s question played around in my mind. By not having the latest gadget, was I losing my edge, whatever that means? Why do I need to spend a lot of money, time researching, and effort learning how to use a smart phone?

Never the less, I did some research on smart phones and, my goodness, they do a lot these days! They also cost a lot. I’m not poor or cheap, but I can think of better ways to spend my dollars for something I rarely use. Anyway, I went to several consumer websites to gain more information.

Do you know there is not a single review that gives any of the myriad of smart phones an excellent rating on voice quality? Out of a ranking of 5 points they all rank a three. Isn’t that what telephones were originally created for? Apparently, not anymore. I do know it depends on the chosen carrier and the signal and the phone, but…

We humans can send people to outer space, but we can’t make a phone that has great voice quality? That is shocking to me.

Remember the days when, if you purchased a multi-function machine of some kind and if one thing went wrong or broke, you were stuck with having to replace several items or buying another combo-unit? I think that has influenced me also in not buying a smart phone. It does too many things. I know eventually it will be inevitable, but do I have to take that step yet? Hmmm, what to do?

Okay, folks, tell me why you can’t manage without a smart phone. If I’m missing out, I want to know.


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under musings

30 responses to “Today is Why-day

  1. I resisted getting a smart phone for a whole year after I was “entitled” per my contract. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to figure it out and preferred to stay in my comfort zone. Now… well, all I can say is that I love my smart phone – the camera, the ability to keep up with my social media marketing and online friends when we’re in the car or on vacation or waiting for the doctor, or the car to be fixed, or whatever. It’s such a time saver for me, because I can do all those things during times that were wasted… talking to people? Lol… it is a mixed bag. I say go for it. Sometimes you just have to jump.

    • Sherrie, your argument is a good one. And I know you have a busy schedule, so maybe your smart phone has really become a necessity in this time cramped world. Hmmm.
      Thanks for your helpful comment. I appreciate it!

  2. art

    OK, OK, OK, you have sucked me in so I must make comment.
    I used to have a smart phone and now it is somewhere off the end of my dock settled into the mud and maybe the fish are changing the screen on it once in awhile as they forage over it. I used and loved it very much and I was glad no one was in earshot, especially children, as I saw it flutter back and forth as it went down into the dark wet abyss.
    Seven months later and now I am fine without it or without any cell phone at all. When I travel I now take in all the sights out my car windows that were in the original intent of my trip. When I’m in my canoe enjoying nature’s silence I am sure not to miss a single treat the animal kingdom provides me. When I am in a medical provider’s waiting room I am attentive to the people around me, catch up on magazines of interest that I do not have at home, or read the book I brought with me and could not stand to leave at home. When I am with friends I now listen to their life’s moments and they appreciate me providing that quality to our activities. Now even at home I do not answer a landline if I have company or an activity I am enjoying or has purpose.
    This being said I do call people back if they leave a message and if their is an emergency it is all recorded and attended to just as life was before my “smart” phone came into my realm and it’s existence. Yes I am old.


    • I’m laughing, Art. As I wrote my comment, I realized how old I sound. I should be complaining about my last operation or talking about some medical condition. We’re not old. We just grew up enjoying our surroundings without the unnecessary and rude interruption of gadgets which do cause us to miss out on a lot. I’m with you all the way!

    • Wow, Art, I expected to get swamped with really zealous smart phone aficionados! Your sans-phone story is closer to my way of thinking. I like to embrace each thing I do, to the fullest. I’m embarrassed to say I even eat that way, savoring each item on my plate one at a time. Maybe I have gone overboard, but I like having you as an ally when it comes to devoting full attention to something or someone. I’m old too!

      • Coco, if you can keep going with the way you live and embrace everything individually, and without a smartphone or all the gadgets, please write a book about it! 🙂 OR….I’ll just cut and paste your blog post and put it on the wall as a reminder that “savoring” things slowly is the epitome of peace. Saving you stress time which you can use for writing! I bought my iPhone reluctantly ages ago only for the iPod to have for listening to books as I walked and house-cleaned (the latter not so often…) But Apple took the iPod away! Among other things. If I’d known the mare’s nest I was entering, I would have stuck with my flip phone which only had a stuck key! I didn’t realize it was a blooming computer and I got hooked in. It has its good points but you’ve pointed out what geeks would call a “work-around” for many of them. Thanks for the enlightening post and hold our ground! (Tess)

    • ART, I bow to your wisdom…and courage! I have the age, but not the courage and wisdom! ~~~Tess

      • Time to panic! I got an e-mail from my phone carrier telling me my 2G phone will not be supported soon and they are sending me a new 3G phone. EeeeeK! I just got it today and the owner’s manual is 84 pages long! It’s charging right now. We’ll have to see if I am able to activate it tomorrow. I hope I can learn how it works!!! it’s not quite a smart phone, but then, neither am I.

        • Same thing happened last year to my husband. I didn’t want to mention it because I thought it was because of our rural-ish area. Beloved Husband was not amused!

  3. Natasha Chirkova-Holland

    I love my iPhone! There was a situation last fall when I lived by myself in an empty house with no computer nor a TV… Well, I watched TV and movies on my phone, listened to music on it, hanged on Skype with my family across the world for hours and hours and, of course, used Internet for all other purposes we use it everyday — checked email, paid my bills, researched different things and caught up with my friends’ life on social sites. I have to confess that the phone bill that month was a whopping $996 because I used a lot of data!!! BUT! I didn’t have to buy a TV and a computer and pay for a cable service! Today my usage bill is much smaller, but I still love the mobility of this TV / computer in my hand — a lot of times I have my family “present” in a doctor’s office when something serious is going on… I sit down in a lonely café for a cup of coffee and watch a piece of good classic movie… I show my friends in the Arctic Russia, all covered with snow right now, how cherry trees are blooming in Alabama already when I drive in my neighborhood… I take pictures and videos and immediately send the best of them to family and friends or upload them to my favorite social networks… My phone helps me to find places and information immadiately — whenever andwherever I am… What a time-saver! What a LIFE-SAVER!!!

    • Thank you so much, Natasha, for your comment. I had no idea one could do all that you do with your phone! Skype, too?! If I decide to get a smart phone in the future, I’ll have to come to visit you and you can help me discover this brave new world. Problem is, I have a PC and I understand it’s not compatible with an IPhone, and I would be lost without my Microsoft platform. We’ll have to talk.
      I’m hoping some more people come forward with their pro-smart phone comments.
      Thanks again for reading my blog and leaving your comment.

      • Natasha Chirkova-Holland

        Coco, I am not a guru with all these new phones thing, but I’ve figured out a couple of things that even my teen daughter doesn’t know how to do. Really, I only use the fuctions that I need. For instance, I never check the weather on it since worry about it and never carry an umbrella (and this is a big morning dilemma for moscovites who don’t drive a car, for instance — umbrella or no umbrella day!) Once you figure your phone out, it becomes pretty handy. Howeve, when I travel abroad, I can live without it months on end — and I am still alive as you can see…

      • Apple has had a “work-around” on Mac desktops for sometime to allow them to use Microsoft Office. I’m sure they transferred it to iPhones. However, FLASH doesn’t work (yet that I know of) on iPhones so a few websites might be a problem. That’s the limit of my crossover platform knowledge.

  4. My advice, Coco, is to stick with what you’ve got. The biggest mistake I made about five years ago was to get rid of my blackberry and buy an I-phone. “Everyone” had one and raved about them. I wish I had kept the blackberry and passed on the I-phone because I hated it. It was way too complicated and difficult to learn and I just recall I was constantly frustrated with it. Today, technology is not made for people older than 50; and, well, my baby boomer generation…forget it. We don’t count when technology is made. In fact, I swear there’s a conspiracy abound in the tech world to make technology that only they understand. Of course, because the 40 and under crowd has grown up with technology, they are able to navigate without any problem. However, wait until they hit their 50’s or 60’s and technology has moved into that next phase. Like anything else in life, they will find themselves left behind as well. My generation is geared toward clear, written instructions which simply don’t exist in the “brave new world” of technology and “smart” phones. Sadly, I currently have a smart phone now and hate it. These new smart phones are not smart. The volume turns down on it’s own, the brightness dims on its own and neither has anything to do with how much charge it has. If I do one thing on my phone at any given moment, I can never figure out how to undo it. I like technology to be “user friendly” and not smart, because smart doesn’t seem to really mean smart. It means young and in the know. Oh, and, yes, you are absolutely right about the lousy reception of human voices. I feel like I’m constantly repeating, “what did you just say?” New and smart are not always a good thing. If you are happy with what you have, stick with it. I wish I still had my blackberry!

    • Oh, my goodness, Maribeth! I’m so surprised by your answer, too! But, you’re right about gadgets not being user-friendly anymore.
      Not long ago I bought a really nice camera to take on a trip out of the country. I had a previous model of the same camera, so I already knew some of the features, but the new camera had added new features and I wanted to take the owner’s manual with me to study on the plane. The problem was, the new owner’s manual was on the CD that came in the new camera box. (The older camera had a printed owner’s manual in the box.) I had to bring the manual up on my computer in order to read it. I discovered it was unprintable! I even called the manufacturer to see if I could purchase a printed manual. The answer was, no. I was so angry, with my old camera, I took a photo of each page of the new manual on my computer screen, printed it and took that on the plane. STUPID POLICY!
      You may be right; I may be better off sticking with what I have, unless I can develop a friendship with a really patient teenager. Ha!
      Thanks so much for your comment, amazing as it is!

    • Maribeth, I don’t know you personally, but when you wrote:

      “Today, technology is not made for people older than 50; and, well, my baby boomer generation…forget it. We don’t count when technology is made. In fact, I swear there’s a conspiracy abound in the tech world to make technology that only they understand. ” ….
      …I felt you as a kindred spirit! I thought it was just me losing my grasp, but your comment confirms I’m probably okay. 🙂

  5. Joanie

    Your Sister, Joanie

    Great Blog, Sis. Boy, can I identify with you! I am just getting use to my new computer, let alone a new phone. We still have a “flip” phone…..course that could be since we live in the Mountains and have no cell service until we reach town. Believe you me, I can really relate to all you have said and I agree, if you don’t need it, don’t get it.


    • Thanks for your comment, Joanie. I’m wondering where the smart phone advocates are. I thought I’d get a lot more comments from them. Maybe I will in the next few days.
      Good luck with learning how to work your new computer!



    Hi Coco,
    Great blog and interesting comments from your followers. I am not a prisoner of the cell phone. I pay $100 for 1,000 minutes that lasts about a year. If I am meeting someone socially I will put on the phone until we meet. I always carry my cell phone outside my home in case of an emergency. If a horrific storm is forecast & there’s a fear of losing my landline, I will put on the cell phone.

    • Interesting, Pat. You use your phone the way I do mine. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. This exercise has been really interesting and unexpected.

  7. Virginia Dieste

    I’m with you and Art, Coco, and I don’t care if they call me “old”, I prefer to see myself as “wise” in selecting people over machines! Virginia

  8. Okay, where are the pro smart phone users? I’m really interested in what you have to say.

  9. Cheryl Hilzer

    I love smart phones! It seems everyone has one because they are either walking or driving (ugh) with them.
    I think they are great for finding locations, and even looking up general information when you need it. The problem though is some people don’t know how to get their head up and communicate anymore.

    • Such an interesting comment, Cheryl! Thank you. I find it fascinating that even a smart phone lover still finds disadvantages with it, at least for some people. Glad you like yours and find it handy and useful. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Coco, the only other thing about having all that wonderful information and access to the world in the palm of your hand is…it could end up in the palm of someone else’s hand! If you get one, Coco, you’ll have to secure it with a password. You can even use your fingerprint, but the first time I tried that, the iPhone didn’t recognize it, or the second fingerprint from my other hand and I couldn’t open my phone! The Phone Store couldn’t do it either, so I had to get a paid plan to let me call someone when it didn’t work and we had to reboot the darn thing on iTunes. At least I know how , but I stick with digits called “numbers” for a password! 🙂
    And, yes, the phone does have a mind of its own…mine plays my Audible books when the phone is in my pocket and is LOCKED! I’ve earned a lot of Badges that way, that I don’t deserve! LOL.
    Great blog post, Coco.

    • Yes, Tess, I’ve been hearing a lot these days about phones getting hacked and also not behaving as they should. But, for now at least, my mind has been made up for me. my phone carrier told me my 2 G phone will no longer work soon, so today they sent me a 3G phone to learn how to use. HELP!!! Wish me luck. The owner’s manual is 84 pages long. Grrrrr!

      • Coco, do you mean your provider didn’t give you a CHOICE of a smartphone from their array of possibly the bottom stratum of smartphones that most people aren’t rushing to the phone store to acquire? (… she said, tongue in cheek & no names mentioned)

      • Jac had that problem about a year ago. He only wants a cell for calls. No APPS, etc. I have an iPhone but he got a Microsoft phone which has NO APPS at all on it! We do have text messaging, though. It’s a “must”. He told me that his hero, Warren Buffet, doesn’t even own a cell phone!

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