I reject the "you are growing older, so you just can't learn new things" (I'm somewhat close to turning 60) argument - except when it comes to certain technology.
I grew up in an era where telephones were large, clunky things with a dial. They hung on your kitchen wall. They had a dial tone. You waited for the dial tone before you dialed. (At least I didn't have to turn a crank and ask the operator to dial the call - I'm not THAT old.)
You used them to - make phone calls. Phone calls consisted of using the dial, which had a disk with holes in it, to dial numbers. There was an art to it. If you didn't dial properly, you got a wrong number. There was only one type of ringer. It rang. The person answered. He or she had no idea who was calling until they answered. There was no such thing as caller ID Or an answering machine.
Calls were billed using "message units" in my native New York City. If you were in the Bronx and wanted to call Brooklyn, you had to be prepared to take out a bank loan if you spoke more than 5 or 10 minutes. I forget how much a message unit cost, but it was a lot. Long distance was even worse. The calls were billed at rates that varied depending on the time of day - or night. Overseas? We never even tried.
Now I live in an era where my son and girlfriend sit on the same sofa and text each other. Neither would know how to dial a phone with a dial. Nor can they imagine a phone that doesn't also take pictures, act as a GPS, or allow you to connect on Facebook or browse the Web.
Right now I have what I call a 'stupid phone'. It makes phone calls, plus has some other functions that I have absolutely no idea how to use, because I don't use them. It's a Trac Fone, so I've never had a plan. That's the nice part. However, Trac Fones have many limitations. You can't download any kind of QR reader to them. You can't text things to those five digit numbers.
I am tired of watching people whip out their phones to take pictures or record videos at special events. I'm tired of needing a GPS (we don't have one) and not being able to use my phone. And, when my son told me at Easter dinner Sunday that he was going to upgrade to an iPhone, I was set to join the wonderful world of technology.
Let me tell you what happened. (My younger readers, please forgive me. Your day will come.)
Son has Verizon, so we went to "his" Verizon store. I was greeted, and directed to a knowledgeable sales rep who looked like she was about 14 years old. That was actually comforting, because I figure the younger you are, the more knowledgeable you are when it comes to phones. And she did have the figures right at hand.
My son was paying about $80 a month on his plan. I figured adding a second line would be about $10 more.
It was about $70 more but part of that is a data plan upgrade required for an iPhone - his plan will be going up, too, if he does get an iPhone.
The sales rep welcomed us to look around so we did. There were all these displays - phones for calling, phones for texting, phones that were smartphones. There were even iPads. Of the smartphones there were 4 or 5 different manufacturers. After the Galaxies, the Droids, the LG's and so forth, my head was spinning.
We left without making a decision.
I don't know what our decision will be. But with the proliferation of QR codes (there was even one on the cover of the latest issue of my Consumer Reports) I figure I had better join the smartphone age before I am left out of things all together.
I've heard too many stories from people my age, kind of half embarrassed, relating how they struggle to use their phones. I don't want to be one of those people. I want to learn the features.
Maybe I'll be on that sofa one day, with my son and girlfirend, texting them and sending them photos. And posting on their Facebook walls.
Is there anyone else out there of "a certain age", who has taken to smartphones? Or, do you use the phone as a phone, and ignore the other features?