First World problems

Posted on: 8th November, 2016

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

I’m as attracted by the new as much as the next consumer. New gadgets and tech are often desirable merely because they are new. What’s not to love? New is better, bigger faster, shinier.   I for one am totally infatuated by the internet. I’m also a fan of all the social media that keeps me connected to friends and family no matter where on the planet I am. ‘Facetime’ has lessened the pain of immigration, and I love the quick messages that I exchange with my far flung family on a daily basis. Though I am a lover of real books, I also love taking an entire library on holiday with my electronic book. Sometimes, however, the pace of tech has increased at such a rate that we don’t consider the cost.  Technology has hurdled us into the future in leaps and bounds so rapidly that we hardly had time to get our CD collections burned onto to our computers, before the whole endeavour was rendered obsolete by streaming. And sometimes those shiny, fast, new devices aren’t as handy as the old tech they replaced.  In the immortal  words of Joni Mitchell: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…

Smart phones are a case in point. I got my first one two phones ago. I was a reluctant convert, but once I got the hang of it I could see the advantages. The apps and internet access are great. The video quality is excellent. I can sit anywhere and scan the news, or watch Nettflix. However, I quickly also saw the disadvantages: touch screens don’t work in the cold, or in bright light, or in the rain, or with gloves on. Smartphones are great when you want to google something on a bus, but if you want to make a phone call or send a text, they basically suck. I longed for my old phone. The phone I could text with one-handed with my thumb. The phone that had predictive text that knew me, and that didn’t make me sound insane (I carrot about the parrot? Really?). The phone that was left on the side of the road for nearly a week and was still charged and working when we found it. The phone that you could drop in the toilet without a bother (Like I did with my first smartphone, which killed it instantly). I don’t want to sneak in any promo for a particular brand, but you all know which phone I’m talking about (Clue: Starts with an N).

I was due an upgrade, but the thought of having to trawl through all the shiny, new smartphones on offer, not to mention learning to use it, made me hang on to the devil I knew. That particular devil was coming to the end of its useful life after only two years and was chewing through my contacts and losing the little predictive ability it had to start with. So it wasn’t a tragedy when I lost my smartphone on holiday. It would force me to get a new phone.

I went into the phone shop with a heavy heart and a heavier sigh and tried not to let my eyes glaze over, as the sales person explained the various choices. And then I heard the magic words ‘old school touch button phone’. My heart lifted. Could this be true? Did the tech Gods who create our devices go backwards? Apparently they did! Not only that – the demand for the old school phones was such that they were out of stock. I didn’t care. I was happy to wait…

I am now the proud owner of a touch button, dinky little phone that I can actually use to phone and text. Granted I have spent the last few days updating my contacts (No I didn’t back them up!), but it has been pure joy pushing those little squidgy, but steady, buttons, rather than missing the touch screen and typing a letter multiple times.

And it’s made me think of what other newfangled tech we should scrap for the older version.

Car doors seem like a good place to start. In fact, electronics in a car is just asking for trouble. Bring back analogue windows that can be wound down manually. While we’re at it bring back proper keys. Every second hand car I’ve ever had has eventually had a problem with the central locking and electronic keys are exorbitant to replace. I’m also not a fan of GPS. I’m worried that the next generation will never know the joys of getting hopelessly lost. I could go on (notebooks and a pencil beat typing any day/appliances that can be fixed), but I need to check Facebook and emails to see if anyone else has sent me their mobile numbers so that I can populate my new contact list…

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