View from the Hill
Too Dumb for a Smartphone
By Catherine Durkin Robinson
Sep 11, 2011 - 9:02:11 PM

LOS ANGELES—The only thing that scares me more than borrowing my husband’s nasal hair clippers, is borrowing his cell phone. Oh sure, I can talk on it. But only when I’m not applying myself.

Husband’s digital trouble maker can do so much more, like text, take pictures, and entertain ten year-old boys with fun applications like the one that unleashes a symphony of bodily noises at just the right moment during Friday night services.

Naturally, for my 41st birthday, Husband gave me a Smartphone of my own. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was smarter than me.

Beforehand, I had always thought of myself as an intelligent woman. Not brilliant maybe, but smart enough to watch foreign films and drink wine at the same time. I can also convince two kids to get in the shower at least five times a week.

Then I tried using my new phone and after a few minutes, I realized dementia is right around the corner.

I really don’t need this kind of pressure. When children, college funds, and expensive vacuum cleaners came into our lives, Husband and I stopped exchanging extravagant birthday presents. I can still remember the days when jewelry and four-star restaurants were the norm, but now we prefer a savings account.

This year, however, he insisted I join him and the rest of our preoccupied friends. Husband traded in my archaic and generic cell phone (read: convenient and easy to use) and now I’m stuck with machinery that requires tutorials, webinars, and at least four advanced degrees.

I’m not trying to sound ungrateful. After all, this device helps me identify familiar songs while standing in line at Subway and solar systems in the night sky. Who can put a price tag on that? But this so-called “touch pad” is practically useless once I put on hand lotion.

So if I have to choose between dry skin and conversations with the plumber, who can’t hear me anyway, I’m probably going to choose my skin and live with the faulty toilet.

There are some benefits to carrying a computer in my purse. I can read email and find shortcuts to my doctor’s office. But I still have an anxiety attack every time the downloaded Lady Gaga ringtone starts buzzing, always at top volume during business meetings, and I can’t figure out how to make it stop.

Husband has tried to help me understand and feel comfortable with this new technology. He’s even tried to retrieve messages for me, which leaves me eternally grateful that a) he’s a patient man and b) that my secret admirers no longer text.

Let’s face it, my life is complicated enough.

I’ve even been forced to record a more honest outgoing message.

“I can’t come to the phone right now. This damn thing is either being charged or my kids are watching a YouTube video. Leave a message and if I ever figure out how it works, I’ll call you back.”

I hope no one is holding their breath.

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