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Thursday, August 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Front Porch: We should be smarter than our phones

I don’t text. I don’t tweet. I don’t Facebook. I’ve heard of but don’t have any idea what Angry Birds really is. And I’m fine with it that way.

Moreover, when my old flip phone finally died, I replaced it with a cellphone pretty much just like it. I can make and receive calls. I have voicemail and phone book functions, both of which are handy. There may be other things I can do with the phone, but I really have no interest in learning what they may be. I was not remotely tempted to get a smartphone or any of its cousins because, for one, they do a bunch of stuff I don’t need and, for another, I resent mightily having a device, by its name alone, that is clearly brighter than I am.

I do have email, necessary for work and for staying in touch with people I care about who live far away (nobody wants to write actual letters any more). But I don’t have a laptop computer or tablet. My trusty old desktop is fine. When I travel, I am blissfully unplugged. If I should need to check email while I’m away, I either use the computer in the lobby of the motel or do so at the home of a friend or relative. But mostly I don’t.

As for all the social media opportunities, frankly, I don’t need to know that you discovered the joys of steel cut oatmeal the moment you taste it or want to see the video of some unknown child burping out the melody of a nursery rhyme. Going viral to me still means there’s a plague among us.

And if I’m going to like you, it will be up close and in the same room. Following you seems rather stalkerish, and I don’t want to go there. And I can’t tell you how little I care about the musings of celebrities who so readily share with multiple thousands of their best friends.

Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I like to think I’m not a reverse snob or someone who feels superior not being involved with today’s cyber geegaws. I can appreciate some of the reasons to partake. Certainly, grandma will be pleased to get instant photos of the latest doings of a grandbaby. And, God bless her – she should be able to enjoy receiving them, if she’s had a neighbor kid explain how to drive her receiving apparatus so that she can.

I also don’t do online banking. Didn’t any of you see “Battlestar Gallactica,” when all the starships that were inter-linked got destroyed by the Cylons? Only the independent, nonconnected Gallactica survived the attack. Not for just that reason (please take it as a metaphor), I sit and write checks to pay my bills twice a month, and I balance my checkbook to the penny. I don’t have an ATM card either.

I’m reasonably handy with things mechanical, though it’s a bit of a nightmare trying to master the assorted whammer-jammers needed to operate my TV, DVD player and individualized hearing-booster thingamajig my husband employs so we don’t have to turn the TV up to 120 decibels.

I don’t shun technological advances as a whole. I just don’t feel the need to embrace them all. I certainly appreciate my microwave oven and garage-door opener, not having to beat laundry with a stick on a rock by the river, the internal combustion engine, what having Internet access means in enabling me to do my work and more. And frankly, I do play one game of solitaire on my computer many mornings – usually because my Internet is often slow in booting up and I may as well do something in the interim.

It’s just that I’m not so caught up in the delight everyone seems to have in fiddling with all this stuff. I’d really like to see some day a group of people walking down the street actually talking with one another and not staring at their hands as their thumbs fly around teeny tiny keyboards – or interrupt conversations to pass along to everyone they know, everyone not in the room at that moment, the funny thing you just said to them. Is it just me, or is that really just rude?

I mean, if you like spending a lot of time, not to mention money, on all that’s out there, go for it. We all like what we like, and we clearly don’t have to like the same stuff. But here’s my message to those of you (and you know who you are) who keep telling me I really should taste of these things because once I do, I’ll love ’em (here kid, try this cigarette, you’ll love it), or that my nontexting posture is inconvenient for you or that embracing dinosaurhood is not really that cool – back off!

I don’t care if I could come to love it. I’m just not interested. I don’t care if it’s inconvenient for you. It’s convenient for me. I don’t care if I’m uncool. I’m used to it by now. And be sure to tweet that message to all of your friends, too.

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at upwindsailor@ comcast.net. Previous columns are available at spokesman.com/ columnists.
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