Adjusting to the IPhone by Sharon O’Donnell

Two weeks ago, the cell phone I had for the past two years stop working. Just like that. I could still text, but the speaker was broken, and I still kind of want to hear someone’s voice now and then rather than just type notes. I know that is an outdated way of thinking, but I guess that means I’m outdated. When I went to get a new phone, I planned to get one with the little pull-out keyboard just like I’d had before — not an I Phone or anything like it that meant I’d have to type on a screen. The few times I’d tried that, I’d hit the incorrect button, and suddenly I’d be on some strange page that I didn’t know how to get off. Those on-screen things intimidated me; just give me my little keyboard, please!

But my sons and husband told me that I was nuts not to get an Iphone when it would be the same upgrade cost as the other phone. And that awesome built-in camera did have its appeal. And it wouold be nice to have the GPS and to be able to go on-line to get phone numbers when I’m out and about so I don’t have to make occasional calls to directory assistance to get a number I need immediately. Several months ago when my husband noticed a directory-assistance charge on our phone bill, he asked me about it, and I said that yes, I had needed to call it. Billy, our oldest son, laughed and said, “I didn’t even know directory assistance still existed.” My sons were obviously not impressed with my lack of techno savvy.

So once in the Verizon store, I decided to go ahead and take the leap and get an IPhone. I’d like to say I fall in love with my IPhone the first day; but, alas, that did not happen. I don’t text nearly as much as I used to because I’m not as fast at texting as I was with my old phone. And I loved the speed dial on my old phone so I could just hit a number and boom — I was connected with my husband or one of my sons, my parents, siblings, or friends. With the IPhone the closest thing to speed dial is to have a list of ‘favorites’, but this still requires a few clicks to get to. My youngest son pointed out that I could use the vocal command and say, “Call home” or whatever, but this requires a very clear and loud voice in order for the phone to recognize it, and sometimes it is not convenient to loudly repeat a command to your phone. Sometimes this requires more than a few attempts. Once I said plainly into the speaker, “Call Mama”, and the phone said back to me in its robotic voice, “I don’t know who your mother is.” Well, okay then. She’s listed as “Mama” in my phone list, so what is the problem? I hate to feel like I’m being bested somehow by R2-D2. I have no desire to spend time on the Internet via my phone when I’m out in public or a restaurant or wherever; I want to be engaged with the people I’m with and observing and experiencing the life and events around me. I have a computer at home when I decide to go on the Internet. When my 13-year-old downloaded some apps for me, I yelled, “I don’t want any apps! I just want to talk and text.” Then he told me about Facetime, which enabled people to call each other and SEE each other on their phones while talking. “No way,” I told him.

But the worst thing about getting an I phone for the first time was that 3 voice mail messages I’d saved for 5 and a half years didn’t transfer correctly as the guy a Verizon said they would. He had told me the messages would be fine, only to find out later that others had had problems transferring from one phone to an Iphone. 2 messages were of my youngest son when he was seven, calling to find out where I was because he was there with my husband and older brothers and he, quote, “just can’t stand it anymore.” And the other was a joint message from both of my parents, lauding praises on me as only my parents can do after seeing me on a San Francisco TV station in 2008 after my book came out. They were all 3 funny and priceless, and I would have never changed to an Iphone if I thought those messages would be lost. Tried several times over the years to get them on a CD of some sort, but Verizon said it wasn’t feasible. So I saved them over and over for over five years. No small feat. Upset about not having them, but as my mother said, they’re just voices. Still . . .

When I posted about this on Facebook, I had around 20 comments, with most of them saying they, too, had saved messages on their phones that they didn’t know how to save permanently and were doing like I did — just repeatedly saving them. If there is really not a feasible way to transfer these messages to another medium and save them, then I think there is a market there for something to be invented.

In the meantime, I will just be glad I can text and call my sons wherever I am and wherever they are — a huge step from the way it used to be. Technology is great . . . except when it’s not.