An old friend has two grandsons who recently spent the night at their other grandmother's house, where they heard an unfamiliar sound that made them scream in terror: an old-fashioned landline phone ringing. Further evidence, if you need it, that the world of our childhood has fallen far enough into the past to terrify our offspring, as if a ringing landline were a pterodactyl shrieking down from the sky to snatch them back into a world of prehistoric gloom.
Which makes me wonder whether I'm a sort of dinosaur: Am I the last person on the planet not to own a smartphone?
Stupid question. My grandkids, for instance, don't have smartphones, and neither does my father or my husband. That's four whole people, plus me, making five. But soon that number will be reduced. Brace yourself: I've ordered a new smartphone that's supposed to arrive tomorrow, which means I'll soon be retiring the eight-dollar throwaway phone I've been using since the last Ohio mastodon slunk off to Johnstown to die of humiliation over never buying a smartphone.
I find myself alternately glorying in the possibilities and feeling oddly apologetic about finally joining the 21st century. For years I've avoided buying a smartphone because (1) we don't have cell-phone access at our house; (2) we couldn't afford the cost of phone plus a data plan on top of our landline; and (3) I resist being absorbed into the Borg that seems to have eaten up so many others.
So what changed?
We still don't have cell-phone access at home, but we do have money--or at least less debt. For years I felt that every penny I earned went straight to paying our various horrible debts, but you wouldn't believe what a difference it makes to stamp debts "paid" and banish the monthly obligation. No more scrambling from paycheck to paycheck! We've actually put a little aside so we won't be flattened by the next emergency! And we can even have a few nickels to play with at the end of the month! So the financial objection is no longer so persuasive.
I've also come to realize how handy a smartphone would be even if I can't use it at home. For instance, in March when the loathsome Spirit Airlines cancelled my flight to Florida at the last minute, a few passengers managed to find and book seats on other flights very quickly by using their smartphones. I was left wandering around trying to find the only public computer terminal in the building, which specialized in producing a continuous scroll of gibberish. A smartphone would have given me other options--or at least entertained me while I was stranded.
Yes, I'd like to be able to play Words with Friends with my brilliant offspring, but I don't foresee selling my soul to every glitzy game that comes along. I'm more interested in the iNaturalist app, which my daughter uses to help her identify the interesting plants and insects she encounters on her hikes, and I want to get a good birdcall identification app. And would it hurt to be able to watch highlights of Cleveland Indians games on that tiny screen?
So I've been toying with the idea of getting a smartphone for about a year, but the incident that pushed me over the edge occurred when it became apparent that I needed to buy my husband his own Garmin so he won't have to keep borrowing mine. Why not just buy myself a smartphone and let him have my Garmin? That would make us both happy: I'll have a smartphone equipped with gps and he'll have a gps system but no smartphone.
So I may not be the last person on earth without a smartphone, but I'm definitely married to him. Which is fine. (I'm kind of fond of dinosaurs.)