Modern technology is like shaving in that it’s a double-edged sword I sometimes cut myself on. Well, not exactly, because, really, who shaves with a sword?
Hopefully you get my point.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no electronics-hating Luddite, nor am I a white-haired curmudgeon hellbent on staying on the wrong side of the digital divide (at least not yet). It’s just that keeping up with ever-changing high-tech gizmos and all that entails can be challenging.
You know those technologically savvy people who seem to have an intuitive understanding of how to expertly work computers and other assorted high-tech gadgets? I’m not one of them.
Using a computer, laptop or smartphone does not come naturally to me. On a fairly regular basis, I find myself using the “Help” feature on my computer at work, asking one of my coworkers how to perform a computer task with which I am unfamiliar, or — if I’m really desperate — calling the company IT guys.
However, there might be hope. After all, I finally broke down and got a smartphone in December after I went years without replacing the regular flip-style cell phone I used to have.
My coworker, intrepid photographer Lee Giles III — whose initials, LGIII, would make a good name for a smartphone — sarcastically welcomed me to 1991 when he learned of my status as a new smartphone owner. But the joke is on him, because the first such device didn’t come out until 2000, with the release of the first Symbian phone, the touchscreen Ericsson R380, the first device to be marketed as a “smartphone” because it combined a PDA with a mobile phone.
Thank you, Wikipedia!
Nevertheless, his overall point was correct, and truth be told, I felt compelled to get a smartphone. I had nightmares of being captured and put into a museum as a living, breathing anachronism: The man without a cell phone. I imagined parents bringing their children to see the exhibit that was me.
“What’s wrong with that man?” a little boy or girl would ask a parent, pointing and pitifully gazing upon me as the last of my kind — a creature that was about to go extinct. “Why doesn’t he have a cell phone?”
“I ... I ... I don’t know,” a parent would stammer in response.
I am proud to report that I have figured out most of the smartphone’s major functions without hurting myself. I will confess to having to consult the — and I swear I am not making this up — 476-page user’s manual on occasion.
OK, I’m exaggerating, because that includes the Spanish-language version as well, but the whole voluminous tome printed after I downloaded it to my computer, Spanish and all.
Ironically, I did throw my back out trying to lift the heavy user’s manual for the first time. I now don a weight belt and use the services of a spotter whenever I need to clean and jerk the smartphone instructions.
One of the cooler features of my smartphone is voice-recognition technology, which is something I would have considered sorcery just a few short years ago. I can talk into the phone, and it will print on screen the words that are coming out of my mouth, either when I’m texting or seeking a given subject on Google.
My smartphone does not talk to me, but then again, it could be in stealth mode, merely biding its time before SkyNet becomes self-aware.
Anyway, it’s my understanding — mostly from those Apple commercials that feature noted thespian Samuel L. Jackson — that the iPhone’s Siri software is an application that allows users to “talk” to their phone, and it “talks” back.
With Apple hard at work on the next generation of iPhones, I can only hope they aren’t involved in any sort of sinister experiments that combine Jackson and Siri, which would result in a talking smartphone that drops the F-bomb with alarming frequency.
Admittedly, the thing I’m most excited about is being able to get online via my smartphone, which means I can now spend more time updating my Facebook page than I already do. Being mobile also means I can get online pretty much any time I want to, even when — how can I put this delicately? — sitting on the porcelain throne.
(Those of you rolling your eyes, especially guys, you know you do it, too.)
But that’s a digital divide better not crossed in any detail.
Reporter Brett Davis can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @gateway_brett.