Smart Phone, Stupid Self

“Welcome to the twenty first century!” some people say to me when I admit I’ve just gotten my first smart phone. They say this to me looking a bit baffled, as if they’re thinking, What took you so long?  Then they quickly add, optimistically, “Oh, you’re going to LOVE it!”

These people don’t know me very well.

I’ve named this new device (new to me; I got it second-hand, at a good price) El Jefe (the boss) because I feel it wants to boss me around, which makes me, of course, HATE it.

In the first few days after it entered (invaded?) my life, before I knew anything about Settings, when it beeped and buzzed at all hours and made me jump to its demands, it reminded me of my days [read: years] as an obedient, young, naive secretary who jumped up, grabbed my pen and steno pad, and ran into the boss’s office at his every electronic command. That, thank God, was eons ago, and I’d rather jump off an exceedingly high bridge than turn the clock back to that time.

This “smart” phone makes me feel stupid, and this is a feeling I don’t like to have. Instead of pushing its buttons successfully (I don’t seem to have the right, light touch), it’s pushing mine: After a lifetime of trying to prove my father wrong (he told me and my siblings repeatedly that we were “stupid and good for nothing” when we were kids), I must admit that technologically speaking he was right. I cannot figure El Jefe out. This thing is the farthest thing from intuitive to me.

“It’s just a tool!” people tell me, and I think, Nope. A hammer is a tool. True tools don’t tell you what to do. And – furthermore – if I had a hammer, I would use it on El Jefe just to prove who’s boss!

Initially, when I was getting really worked up about not being able to work it, I turned to Google (on my laptop, which I have learned to like a lot), seeking a sense of community, and asked, “Why does my smart phone make me feel so stupid?”

Ah-hah! One of the many comforting and validating articles that popped up was this one, “Is Your Smartphone Making You Dumb?” by Ron Friedman, PhD, in Psychology Today (Jan. 6, 2015). In it Friedman says:

“There is something deeply ironic about a device designed to improve efficiency and foster connections achieving the exact opposite. In this way, smartphones are emblematic of a bigger issue with the way we use technology: Often, the tools we use to control our lives end up controlling us.”

Yes, I confess, I’m a stubborn Taurus Brontosaurus. I’m slow (my mother nicknamed me “Molasses”) to catch on to most trends. But still, I believe I have a point. I see little kids, even here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, sitting on park benches – in Parque Juarez, one of the most beautiful city parks on earth – with their faces glued to their hand-held devices, instead of playing on the swings or slides. I see teens texting as they walk along the narrow, old, stone sidewalks, seemingly oblivious to the beauty and color all around them. Even construction workers, on their lunch break, hunker down with their cell phones rather than sandwiches.

The other day, my friend Maria, who was once a kindergarten teacher, patiently showed me how to do a few things with El Jefe. That was a big help. I suppose you could say I’m making some progress. I figure I’ll get the hang of it at about the same time I learn how to speak Spanish fluently, which is to say, years and years from now.

The best thing Maria taught me was how to power El Jefe OFF completely. Now I keep it OFF until I need to use it, which is, frankly, very seldom. I’ve got news for El Jefe: I have a mind of my own, and I don’t take dictation anymore.

Ready to Power Off
Ready to Power Off

10 thoughts on “Smart Phone, Stupid Self”

  1. La Bonnie! I love this post. I empathize, too. How many times I have said “pinche fono.” But you will eventually get to like El Jefe as much as you like your laptop. Really. De verdad. Check out What’s app, a fun and user-friendly app. Besitos electronicos…

  2. It does feel that younger people have an extra tech gene in their DNA but that is not logical. I’m having a hard time with the hand held devices too and I feel I shouldn’t since I can manage the pc very well. But I learned my way around the pc in the work force where if I got stuck or had a question I could just ask a coworker how to make that happen. Even visiting them in their cubicle and looking over their shoulder I learned things. But alas I am no longer in that environment and when stuck have to wait for a teenager to wander by. Life!

  3. Dear Bonnie….You might be a technophobe, but we love you anyway. Just so you keep in touch somehow….we need to hear your lovely voice…don’t hide TOO much!! Pamla

  4. “Instead of pushing its buttons successfully … it’s pushing mine.” ☺️ (On a separate note, it pays to know the difference between its and it’s, doesn’t it?)

  5. Dear fellow Taurus Brontosaurus… Long live the off button!

    I myself have still not jumped onto the smart phone bandwagon, I figure it won’t be that long until it becomes fashionable to not have one….

    So nice to hear from you, Querida Bonnie.

    1. Amiguita Linda! So nice to hear from YOU and to know I’m not the only Taurus Brontosaurus still roaming the earth! Hope all is well with you and Leo. Give my love to your Mom. — xx

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