Devices

I’m a bit of a gadget guy. I like having new devices. I certainly wasn’t the first person I knew who had a cell phone. I didn’t get in on the bag phone phase. My first cell phone was a flip phone and I got it in 1996. Actually, we didn’t call them flip phones in those days. It was a StarTAC clamshell phone. It had an antenna that you had to pull out at the top of the phone before speaking. There were a lot of dead spots where the phone wouldn’t work. I bought a booster antenna for my car and it would work a little bit better in the car, but there were lots of places where I had no phone service.

I’ve been much more intrigued by smart phones. I was an early adopter of a personal digital assistant before the device was combined with a phone. I had a Palm Pilot with my address book and calendar on it. It was a hassle carrying two devices all the time, but I had relied on a pocket calendar before that, which I had to manually copy over into a desk calendar. I was forever having trouble remembering what i had written where. I was bad at loosing addresses and phone numbers. So the PDA worked for me. In my eagerness to get away from having to have a phone and a PDA, I got a Palm Phone almost as soon as they came out. There was a Blackberry after that. When the iPhone was introduced, I was inclined to get one, but they only worked on AT&T and that company had terrible coverage in South Dakota in those days, so I stuck with Verizon and my Blackberry until Verizon got the iPhone with version 4.

All of that isn’t very interesting, really. It is just to say that I’m not a luddite. I’m not opposed to technology. I came to South Dakota with a laptop and I’v had one continually since those days. We had a good desktop computer as well in those days.

On the other hand, I don’t seem to need to have the latest version of a device. As long as the one I have is working, I’m pretty much satisfied with it.

I am amazed, however, at how quickly technology has permeated society. I’m in no position to judge good or bad. It is just the way it is. Here are a couple of stories form the last week.

I led devotions at our local rescue mission one evening. After the crew started serving food, I left the building because I had another appointment. As I left the building I walked by a line of people who hadn’t arrived before the doors were shut. They were likely to be fed, but they had to wait before they could go into the dining hall. There were probably ten or fifteen people waiting there. Every single one had a phone and had their phone out of their pocket and was looking at something on the phone. I don’t know if they had book readers or were somehow connecting to the Internet. There might be wireless in the Rescue Mission. I don’t know. It was interesting to note that in our town at least, the homeless have smart phones. They are considered to be survival tools and are obtained even when shelter is not available and food is in short supply. I guess the phones are how they obtain the things that they need to survive.

Another story: I met a friend at the airport to provide a bit of assistance with him getting his car. It is the kind of thing friends do for each other all the time. He was arriving on the airlines after having been in Washington, DC where it was about 60 degrees today. He got off the airline wearing short pants and a light jacket - not at all unusual for this particular friend. It was about 25 degrees when he got of the plane and it was snowing. He had over 150 miles to drive to get to his home. He headed out to his car. He did have a suitcase and he is a South Dakota native, so I assume that he had winter clothes with him somewhere. I said I was a bit worried that he might encounter bad roads on his way home. It isn’t much fun driving in a snowstorm after dark on the open prairie. He said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got my phone!” and off he went.

I think a cell phone is a good thing to have if you get in trouble and need some rescue. Still, I wouldn’t rely on a cell phone. There are still some places out in the country where they don’t work too well and it could be a long time before someone could get to you if you were in trouble and the roads were bad.

At the church one of our routers failed this week. That means that for a little while we don’t have a reliable we-fi signal in all of the building. Those wanting a signal are going to have to walk around a bit until we figure out whether the router can be repaired or needs to be replaced. I already know of an 11-year-old who will notice if he is in church on Sunday. He is constantly on his cell phone, no matter what else is going on at church. I don’t know if addiction is the right word, but I worry about him because he seems to have a rather limited skill set for occupying himself when he doesn’t have the phone in his hands.

I guess what I’m saying is that I, like others, need to work on setting aside my devices. I don’t think they are evil. I don’t intend to do without them. But I do need to gain perspective and to take a break from them from time to time.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!