Monday, December 15, 2014

Smart phones or another horror of modern life

By Stephen B. Bagley
Excerpted from A Little Floozy.

The perfect Christmas gift this year—according to numerous ads on TV and online—is apparently a “smart” phone. Or a smart phone upgrade. I don’t have a smart phone; my phone just makes  and receives calls. It’s a dumb phone. And I’m happy about that.

Many people think it’s strange that I don’t like the smart phones. Well, they think other things are strange, too, but we’re not going to talk about those. It’s strange, they say, that I love computers, robots, lasers, telescopes, cameras, anything with lots of buttons and lights, and rockets, but dislike smart phones.

But I do. I find smart phones annoying. Their screens are tiny. Their buttons are small. They make weird noises, and people use them to post embarrassing and/or naughty pictures online. Worse, people use them to “text” each other. “Text” is not a verb. You can’t “text” someone just as you can’t “font” or “comma” or “semicolon” someone. Or you shouldn’t if you have any respect for the English language.

I have been told the smart phones are little computers, but they are not! You cannot use a smart phone to break the encryption on a secret government site... not that you should do that under any circumstances. The FBI knows—or will when they read this—that I am not doing that and certainly not encouraging anyone to do that again. (Agent McHenry, how are those nervous hives? Hope they’re cleared up by now.)

The most annoying thing about smart phones—well, the second most annoying thing about them—is how it lets people look things up. They “Google®” it. (“Google” is also not a verb, but that may be a fight I will have to concede.) I have an awesome brain filled with millions of interesting and often strange facts. Say, for instance, you wonder how Genghis Khan died. I can tell you both stories: how supposedly he fell from his horse and died from internal injuries, or how supposedly a captured princess did something terrible to him with a knife and he never recovered. But do you ask me? No. You just “Google” it with your phone. My brain is loaded with all these wonderful items, but you instead use your smart phone. A pox on it!

Of course, my brain is faster than you looking it up, but once in a rare, rare, rare instance, I might possibly remember wrong. I might tell you that Khan died in July when he really died August 18, 1227. July, August, it was in the summer, okay? You didn’t know. If it hadn’t been for your phone, I could have told you that he died in January 1220 by eating undercooked badger and you would have believed it. The thing is I don’t understand why you’re so interested in Genghis Khan anyway. It’s weird. Get a life.

The actual most annoying thing about smart phones is how people will be talking to you and they get a text and then they interrupt talking to you to carry on a conversation with someone else—thus implying I am not as interesting as the other person they are “texting” to. This is insulting, and I find throwing silverware at them immediately makes them pay attention to me again, as they should. Knives are particularly effective. (Once again, just kidding Agent McHenry. I am not violating my parole with weapons, depending on how you define “weapons” since I think we’re all agreed that lasers, rockets, and firearms are not under that definition, but rather under the heading of “good, clean fun” or “party favors.”)

A friend pointed out that maybe all this texting nonsense is the universe getting revenge on me for not paying attention to other people when they are talking. He said a few more things, but I wasn’t listening. If you aren’t interesting enough to keep my attention, then the problem is with you. You need to up your game. Talk about a subject I’m interested in—for instance, my general brilliance and sweet humility—and I will hang on your every word and might even quote you.

People use their smart phones all the time everywhere. Weddings, funerals, church, even during the Sacred Rituals of the Poached Warthog Lodge, it doesn’t matter. The smart phone is ubiquitous. (This is a real word. You might not know it since it’s not often used by those who send texts. Too many letters, I guess.)

The other Sunday morning while sitting on the balcony at church—which I do because it seems to make my minister less nervous—I looked out over the congregation and noticed a man using his phone to text in church. Fortunately I had my binoculars with me and could easily see he was talking to a friend about going out to eat after the service. You will be proud to know that I did the only thing a decent, God-fearing man could do. I took the collection plate, flung it like a Frisbee® and bounced it off his head. He was so surprised. And unconscious for about twenty minutes.

I think the height of the balcony may have added to the force of the throw, but it could have been an angel, too. At least, that was my defense in front of the deacon board. They were overwhelmed by my piercing logic and silenced by my wise words. They sat there quietly with the oddest expression on their faces. They looked...frightened. It was quite strange and offsetting.

I may visit another church for a while. For some reason, I have started to receive a lot of brochures for other churches, several in other towns and one in another state. Curious timing.

I actually have a phone that could be smart if I was willing to pay the data charges. AT&T® telemarketers are baffled by my refusal to add anything extra to my phone. They often call me with offers of many “gigs” of data for a monthly payment that I would only need to sell my neighbor’s car to afford.

“You can read books on it,” the telemarketer says.

“The screen is too small,” I say.

“You can watch movies,” he says.

“If the screen is too small for books, how is it large enough to watch a movie?”

“On YouTube, you can find thousands of videos to enjoy,” he says.

“I’ve seen enough videos of grumpy cats and falling people,” I say.

Then he makes a fatal mistake. “You can Facebook,” he says. “You can Twitter. You can—”

“Facebook and Twitter aren’t verbs, you uneducated batweasel skunkface,” I explain kindly.

I then launch into a fascinating discussion about how we must protect the English language from the barbarians of textspeak. Somehow we get cut off, and I have to call him back to finish. Twice. You’d think they would have better service than that, but perhaps he’s using a  dumb phone. He should upgrade. I’m told it’s the perfect Christmas gift. 

(Copyright 2014 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading!)

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