It has finally happened. I have crossed over to the smart side.
Our sports editor, Matt Wellens, who often teases me for my lack of enthusiasm over the latest gadgets and social media sites, is probably laughing as he drinks his morning Mountain Dew and reads this.
I am the not-so-proud owner of a new iPhone 4.
Before that, I had an old Motorola Razr for a few years. Before that, I had the phone Alltel gave you for $1 if you bought a plan with them. It sent and received calls and text messages, which is all I'm really looking for in a phone. The ability to take pictures is a bonus. The ability to access the Internet is really unnecessary.
I've never been a big supporter of the smartphone. We shouldn't be able to carry so much information around with us. It's way too distracting. Just take a look around you at the other drivers on your morning commute to work. You'll see at least a third of them staring straight down, and unless they just noticed a stain on their pants, I'm betting they're checking their email, sending a text or trying to get more points in Fruit Ninja.
My husband and I are like many people our age: we only have cellphones, no land line at home. But I usually leave my phone at home anyway. I don't like carrying it around everywhere I go. It feels more like a chain than a connection most of the time.
Here's a little example of why.
I was recently at a local brewery, enjoying a beer with friends, when I noticed a table of three people off to my left. All of them were staring down at their phones, their index fingers tapping away on their screens. There was no conversation, no laughter, no sense that any of the three had any clue there were other people at the table with them. They sat like that for at least 15 minutes, never acknowledging the real world that existed outside their phones.
Yikes. It was like a scene from "The Twilight Zone." And it's a scene that is getting increasingly normal.
Facebook, FourSquare, LinkedIn. We're obsessed with what other people are doing, rather than paying attention to our own lives. Wellens joked I'd have to start a Twitter account now once he saw my new phone. He jokes with me often about Twitter, an Internet service I really can't see the use for. It just seems a little undignified to say you just tweeted something. The word "tweet" sounds to me like some sort of bodily function you're supposed to control in public.
All that aside, I may be thumbing my nose at so-called progress, but I don't think we need all these gadgets. My computer doesn't need to be able to sync up with my phone or the television or gaming system. I disabled the phone's GPS capability - which the settings screen told me could help "enhance" the "personal experience" of using my phone - because it's a little freaky to turn your cell phone on only to have it tell you where you are. It may be silly, but I prefer to live in the world I can see and hear and touch, not the one waiting inside a blank touch screen.
So I'll be using my new phone much the same way as I did my old one - as little as possible.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org