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Column: Don’t plug me in
by Robin Jean Marie
Guest Columnist
December 05, 2012 04:37 PM | 7910 views | 3 3 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Robin Jean Marie
Robin Jean Marie
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Your phone is smarter than my phone, I’m sure of it.

I’ll bet that your phone is an honor student, while mine is taking remedial lessons in volume control.But I don’t care. My phone is a slow learner — my phone barely functions as a phone, much less as a personal computer — and I’m really okay with that. Because I’m a slow learner, too. What I excel at is impatience.

When I want to make a phone call, I want to pick up a phone and dial it. I don’t want to take the time to punch in a secret code to unlock a glossy flat screen and then slide arrows and erase icons. I just want to make the silly phone call.

I am intrigued, however, by the innovations of the 21st century. I read the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, which I highly recommend by the way, and there were many revealing moments.

But the anecdote that really caught me was one in which a friend calls Jobs and relates that while he was visiting the rural outreaches of Peru or Chile or someplace decidedly remote, he came across a young boy who had apparently never used a tool more advanced than a forked stick, handed the child a yet unknown iThing and watched in amazement as the boy effortlessly and immediately mastered the object and began winning at a game of Angry Birds. Why, that is impressive.

But I humbly submit that I should be the test subject for the user-friendliness of the next smart thing. Put me in a room with three iPhones, that kid, a dying monkey and see which one of us can figure out how to take a picture first. I guarantee you that I would be the third one to get it — unless the monkey dies first. In this world of ithings and smartthings, Androids and apps, I am woefully behind. But that’s only because I want to be. The truth is, I like my behind-the-times, mono-functional phone. Really, don’t plug me in.

There are those who are enamored with their snazzy top-grade phone-pads and, with a confident and knowing smile, will teasingly assure me that, “Oh, you’ll get one, one day.”

Over my dead battery.

I don’t want to be tempted to check my inbox or the weather report while I’m taking a walk. I don’t want to have the ability to send emails during the previews in a movie theater. I like being unplugged. I like being able to leave my house and look forward to the emails that might be awaiting me upon my return. It’s akin to the feeling I had during my college co-ed days, when I’d return to my dorm room to see if there were any messages written on the dry-erase board that I and all my dorm mates had hanging on our doors. It’s that surprise package feeling.

Why would I want to deprive myself of that? And why would I want to deprive myself of the luxury of sitting down in front of my laptop, responding to my emails with a life-sized keyboard? Or the pleasure of surfing the web on a full sized screen? Why would I want to want to replace that with a flat keyboard that I can’t type on and a screen that’s the size of an Andes mint?

For emergencies? For those, I still have this cell phone, and it does activate for emergencies. I can even txt if i hv 2.

For convenience? No thank you. I’ll decide when it’s convenient for me to tend to my screenly duties. Right now, I’d rather not, if you please. I’ve got 20 minutes in this doctor’s waiting room, and I will pull out a copy of a good, old fashioned book and open it up and hold it in two hands and read it.I’ll get to your email when I’m good and ready.

You can find Robin Jean Marie in front of her PC in Dunwoody or taking an unplugged walk somewhere in metro Atlanta. She shares “Traditions and Tidbits from the Continent to the States” in her blog, www.BringingEuropeHome.com.
Comments
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Alpha Academic
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December 13, 2012
I'm still laughing out loud - love your article! often feel exactly the same way -- WHAT on Earth could be soo important - that one needs to communicate Alll day long - everywhere? We are lost!
Robin Jean Marie
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December 17, 2012
Ah, Alpha, it's so nice to meet a kindred spirit--and a laughing one at that. Thank you for your comments; I'm so glad that you enjoyed the article.
Curt Vendel
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December 10, 2012
Isaacson's book was an interesting read. However his section of Steve Jobs first job at Atari before going onto form Apple Computer in the book turns out to be lacking a lot of important and key events, or really a better perspective of who Jobs really was early in his career...

A new book that just came out to celebrate Atari's 40th anniversary of PONG has a far more revealing and informative insight into Jobs time at Atari including input from Wozniak too, now available on Amazon its called Atari Inc Business is Fun and it is an 800 page testament to every facet of a company just as iconic and as an important in Silicon Valley History.
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