A Smart Phone? No Thanks!

Published at 08:35 on 30 April 2013

Most people who just met me assume I must have a smart phone, probably (a) because most people do, (b) I have plenty of technical know-how, and (c) I can easily afford one. They are mistaken in their assumption.

I really cannot see how having a smart phone would represent a net improvement in my life.

First, smart phones almost universally use touch screens, and I hate touch screens. They have abysmal tactile feedback (essentially none at all, in fact), and they force you to mess up the screen with fingerprints. Blecch and double blecch.

Second, I’ve never really “gotten” text messaging. If I want to send somebody a textual message, I’ll send them an e-mail. It will have no length restrictions, and I won’t be asked to pay a patently ridiculous per-character rate to transmit it. Moreover, my cheap flip-phone can receive (and, in a pinch, send) text messages on those rare occasions where I desire such functionality (generally related to interacting with someone who’s big on texting).

Third, I have little interest in a phone that also sends and receives e-mail. E-mail is for less-critical messages that can (and in my case, probably will) end up waiting for a response. If it’s really urgent or demanding of real-time interaction, make a phone call instead. I don’t want to be continually disturbed by incoming e-mail alerts wherever and whenever I am. I’ll get to it when time allows me to check my inbox, thank you very much.

Fourth, I have no interest in a clock or GPS which also sends and receives e-mail and phone calls. Most often, I don’t want to be pestered by either when I’m out in nature or even out and about in town, even though I often want a clock with me (and I’m about to start doing volunteer botanical survey work for which a GPS will be useful).

Those last two objections can be answered of course by configuring the smart phone to disable e-mail notification and to not ring for incoming calls. The problem is, those configurations are hidden away in a menu, and I tend to forget such things. So I’ll either forget to disable them and have unwanted disruptions from my watch or GPS, or forget to re-enable them and miss an important contact I was expecting.

It’s far simpler to just keep such devices separate, and to have one device serve one function. If I want to be in phone contact, I take my cell phone with me. If I want to know the exact time of day, I take a watch. If I want to know my geographic coordinates, I’ll buy and take a GPS. The technological functionality is mirrored by what I choose to carry. Simplicity itself.

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