Friday, February 24, 2012

In Memory of my 'Idiot' Phone



It was a basic cell phone taken 6 years back when phones were “just phones”. It remained with me till 2 months back. Six years with  the same cell phone -- I know, I know … it is almost 500 Phone technology years and almost equivalent to 250 years of human age. But the machine – however primitive, stood with me tightly in all weathers, travels and more than occasional slipping off from hand . But finally it was a machine!  First it’s body lost its colour and polish  then one by one the keymarks started dimming and very soon it was barely audible. I still continued with it stubbornly. One day while in the heat of an argument, it just conked off. Well, it was a long life well lived. It travelled with me to 4 countries and numerous cities. Almost forced by circumstances, I had to graduate to a new generation smart phone.



Now with this shining new “smart” device in my hand, I do realize that I missed several generations of phones. Smartness of this new cell is addictive. It dazzles you with its display , impresses you with information, amazes you with accuracy and there are moments when you wonder how could you even exist without it for so long.  The phone is just a tiny step short of living my life for me. It has cleverly consumed all information about me and now offers unsolicited advice on every aspect of my life . 
But then in the heart of my heart I do miss my thick as a brick and dumb as dirt old cell phone. I mean it was an idiot of course. A perfectly rustic and dumb looking idiot . It could do nothing more than a phone call. Could not click pictures, had no clue about my location, my reason to be there and did not even know the road to the nearest Pizza shop. If I ever expected it to do anything but a phone call, I guess it would have stared at me blankly – like an idiot. I have to accept that there were occasions when I was embarrassed by the plain phone in my hand. At times when someone asked me to click a picture from mobile or to send a file through it, I had to grudgingly accept that  my phone cannot perform these feats . There were jokes in my office that I am hoping to get a good deal in antique market for my set one day. But I resisted the temptation to go the “smart” way or rather turn dumb with a smart device. That was mainly  because I liked the simplicity of the device. It had a very clear-cut function of being a phone. No convergence of devices, no multimedia experience hi-fi gadgets …opps widgets, a simple functional machine to make calls .
 But then there is another side of this story  too.  The old idiot phone never bothered me when a new mail arrived in my inbox at wee hours  or when a friend logged in on Facebook while I am driving .  There was no way I could surf internet or even play 3D games on it….leave alone playing videos and chatting on skype. Poor dear was not even aware about the cool “apps” which rule my world these days. But oh God , what a bliss it was to be ignorant!

But come to think of it, my idiot phone  never made me realize how fat my fingers are, as the bulging buttons always got the right hit…unlike, the sleek smart keyboard. It never made me click everyday scenes which have little or no meaning later on. Now two months old in my “smart” phone, I at times wake up in the night and had this urge to check what is going on in the world, at Facebook, and  if I have any mails . Standing at railway station, I get this urge to check out the position of the train (real time) on my smart ass device. It almost sounds like colonization of my mind. I no longer remember numbers, addresses, birthdays or routes. The situation is frightening.
I have come to conclusion that the choice is that either you or your phone can be smart  Just two months with it and I almost feel ignorant and stupid on most occasion without my know-it-all sleek ‘n snooty phone. This one is sleekly discreet about hiding the fat bulges of phone buttons, you don’t actually press the buttons , you  flick your pinky fingertip over them like a plenipotent wizard. At times I fear that one day it may just start telling me that I am taking the longer route, writing incorrect spelling, cooking the wrong dish  or calling the wrong person.


I wonder what a sane person would do if the choice is being a dumb guy with smart phone or a smart guy with an idiot phone. But then it’s no longer a choice for most of us. It’s something like Facebook Timeline format…once you opt for it, you can’t go back to simpler times when you have privacy, secrets and discretion. Its fascinating to begin with but once the new-ness goes away from the dazzling new world of smartness, one  can’t help missing  the good old days of simple devices and smart minds using them . 

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Kuntala Sengupta said...

nostalgic about my faithful nokia 3310, 6610...nice post!