That’s Asynchronous Stupidity Syndrome, and I’m sure there’s a manual somewhere to cure it.
Forget, for a moment, political thrashing and bashing, multiple human rights outrages, or lofty national goal-setting. The immediate challenges of a new gadjet take precedence, for a while.
It was clear that if I didn’t take the leap soon, I would be left too far behind to catch up. So I acquired a new phone with as big a screen as possible. Those QR codes had me intrigued for years, and I will need mobile data for travel.
As soon as I turned it on, I felt invaded. I naively thought I could download apps as I wanted and needed them. Instead, it came replete with icons that not only had obscure functions, but wanted me to download, update, agree to terms and conditions, set up a password, syncronise with unknown other machines…and the damm thing kept making random noises.
It was clear I was not giving it the attention it wanted, as if I had adopted a malevolent tamagotchi that needed regular feeding. When I agreed to something with my Facebook account, suddenly all the photos from past blogs appeared in the phone’s Gallery. That was handy, sort of. And when I opened the maps, I saw they have me pinpointed with a triumphant red flag. Nice if I ever need an alibi, I guess.
Clearly, privacy was not going to be an issue – there is none. The convergent streams of data and social contacts have got me in their crosshairs, and I have surrendered to the gods of chaos as I slowly pick my way through the digital mine field.
An additional insult came when a call finally came in. Since I’m now running two phones, and the old one is too obsolete (only got it last year!) to transfer contacts, it is a slow sifting process to add names, numbers and email addresses of what suddenly seems like too many people. I’ll never know who called, as I couldn’t answer it. Much too obvious was the green phone symbol; I finally worked out that you have to tell the settings how you want to answer the phone. That didn’t strike me as particularly smart.
The worst moment was when this big object slipped out of a pocket and fell into the composting toilet. My first words were less ironic and much ruder than ‘oh shit!’ But I managed to rescue it, safe in its cover, with no damage. Worked out how to rotate the bins for my rotaloo along the way, I’m proud to report.
It is easy to view the learning curve of these gadjets as forced exercises in keeping one’s mind active, elastic and challenged. It is just as easy to take the view that it’s a cruel joke designed to gobble up precious time. There was a moment of ridiculous awareness when I found myself heading off to my little craft room, pockets stuffed with an MP3 player, a ‘real’ digital camera, and two phones. I almost needed a day pack, as I was also carrying a thermos of tea and the cat. Simplicity it was not.
Like a real tamagotchi, my smartass phone is going through life stages. At the moment it is quiescent, even starting to be convenient. I like the links to news sites, and I’m hoping I haven’t unwittingly signed up to some with big charges. I think I’ve bought a book for 99 cents, but can’t yet work out how to download or read it. The predictive text is much friendlier than on my other phone. It is both fascinating and maddening. I started reading every QR code I came across, but quickly found they were usually just links to web pages with advertising. I’ve worked out how to turn off the data roaming so I don’t get hit with big charges while travelling next month.
I felt I’d finally arrived in the convergent world when I found myself only half watching the evening news, while elegantly flicking through in depth stories on my gadjet. So I’m getting there. If you would like advice on using a smart phone, please do ask me. I guarantee I can compound your confusion.