Saturday, September 23, 2017

Smartphone Life

I was kind of hoping that this day would never come. Alas, after the holidays my significant other decided to take advantage of a couple of promotions and we wound up with a new family cel-phone plan. This also included his upgrade to a new model of smart phone, and he generously passed down his older model to me. Yes, I am now in possession of a smartphone, after using the same late '00s feature phone for nearly ten years. It's a little daunting.

My old phone was still perfectly functional, with a camera, internet access, and messaging features. It even had a QWERTY keyboard slider, which I really enjoyed. The battery life was fantastic. Okay, the locking function was pretty lousy, which resulted in racking up charges for data usage because of a few buttons accidentally getting mashed, but that was easily remedied. And then there was the whole issue with text messages showing up days late, if they showed up at all. And the less said about the crummy GPS, the better. I guess my phone did need replacing.

But do I need a smartphone? Do I really want to have an internet browser and all those apps on hand constantly? The last thing I want is to be one of those people constantly staring at my phone while I'm out and about, oblivious to everything going on around me. And after my Candy Crush addiction, I know I'm pretty susceptible to this sort of thing. I'll definitely use Google Maps and some of the messenger features, but I'm very wary of the phone getting me more wrapped up in social media than I already am. Or turning me into an annoying shutterbug with it's much, much easier to use camera.

Then again, it's awfully nice to have a pedometer app. I've wanted a pedometer for a while now, and I don't need a separate device anymore. It's the same with Google Maps, which will let me retire my dangerously out of date GPS system. And I could even use my smartphone as a music player, which means I wouldn't need to carry around my MP3 player anymore, if I didn't want to. Uber sure would be nice to have in case of emergencies. And frankly, as long as I keep the amount of junk on the phone to a minimum, there's not going to be much difference between what I'm doing what I'm doing on that device versus what I'm doing on the iPad or my laptop computer.

I'm a little more worried about the privacy implications of the smartphone, especially since several of the apps requested permission for location tracking straight away. Honestly, though, my old phone also could have been used to track or spy on me just as easily. That one often got dumped in my purse and forgotten about for days at a time, and I'll probably treat the new one the same way. Honestly, I feel a little guitly about having a smartphone simply because I'm not the type that would really make use of one to the extent that other people would. I'm only upgrading to one now because it's convenient.

Then again, I find myself more and more reliant on my significant other having a smartphone when we go out. He's the one who has Google Maps, Yelp, and Pandora handy. He's the one who messages our friends when we're running late or need to check in. He's the one who takes the pictures and searches the train schedules. I'm already getting the benefit of having a smartphone, so shouldn't I start doing some of this myself?

Frankly, there's no reason I shouldn't have a smartphone. I can afford one, though I admit to some sticker shock. I can use one. I'm responsible and paranoid enough to let it not take over my life. I'm already doing nearly everything that I'd do one a smart phone through another device. And they're common enough that I shouldn't feel guilty for having one.

I don't know. I expect my anxiety is an extension of the doubts I still have about the internet, and how much it's a part of my life. But ironically, I expect that 90% of my smartphone use will actually be texting and making phone calls. Trying to use the web browser on the phone makes my head hurt, no matter how big I make the text.

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