Sunday, October 21, 2012

Is it because I crossed over?

A few weeks ago, when all of my other electronic equipment decided to crap out on me, my cell phone started being funny.

My trusty, 3 year old phone that has been with me through some pretty rough seas, called so many loved ones, been the source of frustration when it didn't ring when it was supposed to...started to resemble a small heater in my hand.

Once it started burning my hand, and ear, I thought maybe it was giving me more radiation than it should. And then is started turning on and off and on and off and blinking randomly and I thought maybe I should order a new phone.

So I did.

One of my work colleagues, a man who is roughly 40 years my senior, and I have had an ongoing discussion about whether or not I am a "millennial." Have you heard this phrase? Wikipedia says that "Millennial characteristics vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions. However, it is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies." Millennials are part of Generation Y who, also according to Wikipedia, were born after 1982 or 1983. I think those dates change depend on which article you read on the internet.

Being born in the Fall of 1981, I argue with this colleague that I am somewhere on the cusp of Generation X and Y. I just took a test by the Pew Research Center which says I am only 62% millennial, further solidifying my position.  I perceive a difference between myself and Archy G, who is most certainly a Gen-Xer, in terms of how we interact with technology. However, I also note a marked difference between myself and some of my colleagues who are few years younger than me, in terms of how we interact with technology...and people.

It turns out that one of the hallmarks of Generation Yers in the workplace is that they tend to send emails and instant messages rather than make phone calls and set up face-to-face meetings. I send emails and meet with people. I send instant messages and return phone calls. I make maps with a GPS unit but can also use a compass and tape and map a site with a pencil and grid paper. My family did not have a home computer - or cable TV - until the late 90s, I didn't have a cell phone until I was in my last semester of college, I got my first laptop after I graduated from college, and I didn't get an iPod until 2009. Members of Generation Y have always had access to technology. I have, but have not.

How does this relate to a phone, you ask?

Well, when it came time to get a new phone, I felt I was entitled to the free phone Verizon promises with the renewal of your two-year contract. I shopped and shopped and shopped, looking for a the exact replica of the Trusty Phone. It was the fanciest phone I have ever owned.

See? It has a sticker on it so it looks like it was knitted. Perfect, right?
 It flips open to reveal a qwerty keyboard so I can send text messages that have all the letters in the words!

Well it turns out they don't make this phone anymore.

So I jumped on the bandwagon and bought a "Smart Phone." It wasn't so much that I wanted was the only phone that had the qwerty keyboard like I wanted.

Okay, it wasn't the only one. But it was the only FREE one. After a two year renewal of my contract. And an upgrade to a bigger data plan. And shipping. And California taxes. How do you tax something that is free?

How could this be bad?

Well let me tell you, friends. It is.

I take a little bit of pride in being techy. I am generally the first one people in my office come to when their computer goes haywire. I can usually figure out how to operate electronic equipment or use a new program just by turning it on.

But I have met my match.

Oh smart phone, how do I hate thee...let me count the ways.

1. I cannot figure out how to dial someone quickly. Even though I have set my speed dials according to the settings menu, there is no way to "speed dial" that I can find. In fact, it takes no less than 4 screens to get to any phone number I want to call. Drop a call while I am driving? No problem. I will call you back in 5 minutes because it will take me that long to unlock the screen, navigate to the dialing screen, go to my favorites directory, reselect your name, go to the options screen, and then hit "Call."

2. Send me a text message with photos that you also sent to your mom and best friends and dad and maybe your grandma and hope I will reply? Of course I will. To you. And your mom. And your best friends. And your dad. And your grandma.  Because one of the really cool features on my phone is that I can see the phone number of everyone you send the same message to and for some reason...I can't just reply to you! I had no idea this feature existed until, yes, unfortunately, horrifyingly, I replied to everyone on the list. Sorry about that. I don't know how to fix it and still be able to tell you ALONE how cute your baby is playing with those toys...and OMG you won't believe who was a total you-know-what today. Why is this even a feature on the phone? Do people really use it like they intend? To start a group conversation? I can't imagine any situation in which I would want to do that. Ever.

3. I am paying for 4G connection. The East Side of the Sierra, from Lancaster to Reno, can only get 3G coverage. I am not really sure what that all means, but let me tell you...there really is not much need for that big ol' data package I had to pay for since my phone only works at 3/4 of the speed its supposed to it.

4.  I have purse, pocket, and cup-holder dialed lots of people already. And you know what? When I navigate away from the "Call" screen, I have to go back 4 screens to get to the "End Call" button. So if you hear me singing to the radio or hear strange clunking from my empty wallet, thanks to my awesome data package, just go ahead and hang up. Because once I figure out that I am making a call, it will take me a long time to hang up on you.

5. If I am cooking, cleaning, eating, sweating, or freezing, I can't answer the phone. Unfortunately, I have chilly appendages, thanks to my naturally low basal body temperature caused by my thyroid. Apparently, touch screen phones need a little bit of heat to work. If I don't answer right away...its not because I am screening my calls...its because I literally cannot answer. Sometimes I am just standing there, screaming at the phone, banging the little "Unlock" button like a monkey.

6. The Emergency Broadcast System provides me updates when there is a weather alert in my county. Did you know there was a Flash Flood warning for southeastern Inyo County a mere 100 miles from me a few nights roughly 1:30 in the morning? I do. And guess phone makes the exact same sound as the Emergency Broadcast System Alarm on your television. At 1:30 in the morning. On a Wednesday.

Sure there are some good things about this phone. Like the camera. And the ability to look things up on the internet when Archy G and I are driving around Reno looking for the Patagonia Outlet so we can see this awesome picture of him climbing...

I am sure I will get used to this thing eventually, but I have to admit...I am a little shocked by my inability to adapt quickly - or at all -to this new device.

How have I "crossed" over from being a technology savvy Gen Y/Xer to a Gen X/Yer?

Is it possible that our society is being inundated with technology too quickly? That we all reach a level of technological evolution that we just cannot move beyond? That technology is making Luddites out of all but the youngest of us?

Am I really a dinosaur?

Well, Frankly My Dears....I guess I don't really give a damn.

Or should I say as people of my generation might:

Yabba dabba do.


Anonymous said...

I had a 'smart' phone that I finally dumped when I got tired of halfway through the battery!! That meant when I was ready to make a real phone battery :) I think I will stick to my 'dumb' phone!

Kathy Simons

Anonymous said...

I scored a 6 on the scale. That makes me in touch with the silent generation...1928-1945. Maybe that's why bedtime is 9:00pm. I forgive you for screening if you least you have caller id!
A ;)