When Convenient Is Inconvenient: Smartphones
I’m not someone who changes her gear all the time. The iPod Mini that my husband gave me for my birthday the first year that we started dating still looks brand new today six years later; I’ve had my laptop for over four years; I patiently used the same bright pink Motorola RAZR cellphone for over four years before finally making the switch to an iPhone. I love my phone and all that is has to offer, but the truth is that its “conveniences” and features sometimes….inconvenience me.
1.) I forget to reply to emails. I don’t forget to read emails–the phone’s with me at all times, so I have access to all my email accounts. But for the sakes of good posture, occasional arthritis in the hands and politeness should I be in the company of others, I don’t reply to emails from my phone. I don’t want to sit there hunched over typing out long messages on the phone, so I tell myself, “I’ll respond to that later.” Unfortunately, the reality is that I’ve already read that email and mentally mulled it over, so I end up forgetting to respond later because I feel like I’ve already “dealt” with it, so to speak.
2.) (This one’s an iPhone issue not necessarily relevant to other smartphones) I’m married to iTunes, for better and most often worse. I like iTunes; it serves its purpose. It lets me buy songs without having to buy entire albums. But I hate having all my goods tied to one program that gets more and more restrictive with each iTunes “update.” Yes, I know iTunes lets you register up to four computers and blah blah blah. Still a pain. I don’t know how many times I’ve been one click away from sending the 5,600 songs on my iPhone (roughly 1,000 of which were purchased on iTunes) into oblivion after hooking up my phone to a computer.
3.) Instant communication. Convenient. And not. My husband has a Blackberry, so he gets instant messages (BBMS) all day, making communication as instantaneous as a live chat program. We both hate it. Who wants to be accessible at all hours of the day? The worst part about it? The phone tells the sender that the recipient received and opened the message, so if he doesn’t respond within 55 seconds or so, there’s this drama of “I know you got my message! I know you read it! Why haven’t you responded yet?!”
4.) A phone, mp3 player, daily planner, computer, game machine, eBook reader, address book & phone book all in one. My phone has everything I need. In fact, it has lots of life-or-death information, the loss of which would send me up that fabled creek without a paddle should I be without it at some point. It’s nice to have all my important info compiled into one machine. Unfortunately, if I forget that machine at home one day, or if it runs out of battery, I’m screwed because I rarely write down dates, directions, phone numbers and addresses anymore. On the contrary, my smartphone is a way for me to carry a less-cluttered purse–I no longer have to carry a planner and an address book (I confess that I still carry a notebook). But there’s obviously still a need for these tried-and-true items. Phones get forgotten at home. They get lost and stolen. Battery power runs out. 3G and 4g and WiFi give out in plenty of spots. Then what?
5.) Last but not least, this isn’t really the phone’s fault, but my own–the hundreds of conveniences themselves all bundled into one tiny little hand-held machine makes my smartphone, well, something that’s impossible to do without these days. I love that when I’m on my way to somewhere, I can whip out the phone and use some sort of GPS to get me there. I love that when I’m at the wine shop, I can look up a bottle and read about a vintage. I love that I can look up the nutrition of a menu item before ordering it at a restaurant. I love that looking up a phone number or an address takes 3.5 seconds. I love having Facebook and Twitter at my fingertips. But the fact is that I’m too plugged in. The convenience of having Google at my fingertips is driving me insane, and making me feel like I’m ultra-connected…to things I don’t really want to be connected to. But like I said, this isn’t the phone’s fault, but my own.