April 16, 2011 in City

Smartphone’s a lifesaver, but now I don’t have a life

By The Spokesman-Review
 

I am dumber than my smartphone.

I say that for the obvious reasons – my smartphone is clearly more evolved than I am – but also for a more alarming reason, which I’ll get to shortly.

First I need to explain my complicated relationship with cellphones in general. Up until about three weeks ago, I refused to carry one. We owned one, a standard flip-phone, but my wife and I shared it and I made her carry it most of the time. I have never been crazy about talking on telephones of any kind, so why would I want to carry around a cellphone?

Then, last month, I bought an iPhone.

It was as if I had traded in my STA bus pass for a Maserati.

This iPhone is actually an easy phone to use. For instance, it lists your voicemail messages right there on the screen, which makes it easier to decide whether you can ignore them.

Yet here is the real problem. This smartphone is so smart, it has taken over my life. It has become my crutch, my adviser, my teacher, my indispensable companion everywhere I go.

I have even referred to it, to my own horror, as “my lifesaver.”

I no longer have any personality of my own. When someone asks me a question, I don’t answer. Instead, I whip out my iPhone and say, “Let me look it up.”

That sounds innocent, but it’s not. For instance, last weekend, a friend of mine idly wondered what was going on in the Masters golf tournament.

The old me would have actually engaged in a conversation, something like, “Yeah, I wonder, too. It’s been an interesting tournament, so far, hasn’t it? I like that Rory McIlroy. Have I mentioned how intensely I want Tiger to screw up?”

Then the conversation would have wandered into related subjects, such as Northern Ireland and philandering.

Yet here’s the way the conversation actually went in my new Era of the iPhone:

Friend: “I wonder what’s going on in the Masters.”

Me: “I have an app for that! Seriously! I can get it live!”

Then I bent my head over my iPhone for a while, tapping away, while my friend looked on. He was probably shaking his head in sorrow. I don’t know. I wasn’t looking at him. I was looking at my iPhone. Then the “conversation” continued:

Me: “McIlroy’s blowing up! He just dropped six strokes!”

Friend: “Well, that’s a …”

Me: “I’ve got his scorecard right here! Two triple bogeys in a row! Hold on, I think I can get video …”

By the way, we were on the golf course at the time. I was supposed to be playing a golf shot, not watching one in my palm.

Yet it will no doubt get worse. I am becoming so dependent on this thing, I am sure that I will soon be incapable of independent thought or any capacity for contemplation.

Here’s another example from last weekend (only slightly exaggerated):

Friend: “What’s your favorite Elton John song?”

Me: (head down, tapping away) “According to the iTunes store, ‘Tiny Dancer’ outranks all others in popularity.”

This, while I was sitting 30 feet away from the actual Elton John, who was playing “Tiny Dancer” live at the Spokane Arena.

Ultimately, I fear that this is where it’s all leading:

Friend: “What is the meaning of life?”

Me: “Wait. I’m Googling it.”

There’s only way I can ever prove that I am smarter than my smartphone. I can hit the little button on the top right. That’s the button that turns it off. I haven’t used it yet, but someday, I may get wise.

Reach Jim Kershner at jimk@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5493.


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