My internet phone is a miraculous thing as far as I understand such things. My first experience with a phone was when I lived at the dormitory up at Erskine Academy in 1958. We had a pay phone on the hallway wall. You had to pick up the earpiece, give the handle a crank, wait for the operator to speak, and tell her what number you wanted: “Line 3, ring 1, please.” Many times “Karen Pierson’s house, please” would work as I called her up to get help with a homework problem. We didn’t have a phone at home growing up.
Now I have this dinky little flat phone with a TV screen which slides into all my pockets. It is not a phone, it is a miracle; that’s what it is. I can talk on it, I can text on it, I can command it to tell my editor, J.W., to take a hike and it will.
I can ask it: “How many died on the Titanic?” In about 12 seconds I will have the answer! It keeps track of all my friends’ phone numbers and internet addresses and Facebook friends too. I call up contacts and there are their faces; touch and message, that’s all there is to it.
Now Facebook is either a wonderful friend-making tool and finder of old friends or it can be regarded as an outrageous invasion of privacy. Since I never say anything on it I wouldn’t say here, I don’t care. Come to think of it, I am so open about everything here that most of you know me better than my partner!
I can idle away an afternoon touching my friends’ faces and seeing what they are up to now, where they are working, and who they are living with, along with photos of the same. I think it is just a wonderful thing, especially for those of us who have no budget to go visiting with our friends scattered all over the place.
This phone can quickly get you an article or photo on just about any subject you could possibly think of. You can also buy applications to download to your phone, including blood-pressure auto-monitoring, exercise regimens, and museum tours.
For example, my home screen contains icons for USA Today, The Guardian, Encyclopedia Britannica, Newsweek, Theater Organ Radio, Messenger, Police Scanner (allows you to listen to radio traffic in your city of choice), Facebook, Calculator, Notebook, RX to keep track of my meds, the Weather Channel, Maps of everywhere, and lots more things to fritter away the time.
Talk to any kids lately? Of course not! They all are buried in their phones, doing their homework then playing games. I just bought online a program that organizes and updates and fixes my collection of photos kicking around the house. Now that will take up a rainy afternoon, don’t you know?
I sometimes write my column on the phone. Now this is an experience in itself for someone used to touch typing without having to look. I type on it with one or two fingers. Now this phone keeps track of my writing and my vocabulary also, mind you, and when I write it talks back to me in a schoolmarm voice, telling me my misspellings and suggesting corrections.
It also has the unnerving habit of finishing my sentences for me using my words from previous writings. I finally got so irritated with the schoolmarm I turned her off. Now the suggestions appear in a box and if I hit enter it will use it. This method is faster too.
I am going to try to learn to dictate to my phone because my fingers are going numb and it makes typing hard sometimes. When I talk to the phone I may have to squabble with that schoolmarm, who tries to correct my unique way of expressing myself.
It will be interesting, ’cause I am going to keep on writing as long as I can keep it together! And I know it’s me you want to read, not that schoolmarm!
(Doug Wright lives over Head Tide Hill in Whitefield. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.)