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Day by Day: Get a smart phone - the quickest way to feel dumb

It isn’t that I don’t appreciate technology and all the things it has made easier in our lives. It’s just that I don’t think it is necessary to make me feel like an idiot getting there.

I got a smart phone for Christmas. It was a decision I considered long and hard. It made sense for a lot of reasons. All that stuff about having the Internet and GPS and continual access to my email. Yippee -- who wouldn’t be excited to have all their excuses for not being in touch or not doing things completely taken away by a device that gets lost in the bottom of my purse?

But in the end, I went for it and I went big -- in size that is. I looked at that I thing model. It was very nice but then a much bigger alternative caught my eye -- the android -- a tool with a name straight out of a science fiction movie. When it comes to me and gadgets I have to admit, size matters. The android’s best loved feature in my book -- I can up the font size to where I can actually read a message or a phone number without digging in that same purse for my cheaters.

After the young man showed me that, I didn’t hear much else he said and I’ve been paying for it ever since.

First up, he and Kevin decided I needed the best, most indestructible case available. I tend to be a little careless with things and considering the investment I was making, I was OK with getting a case that I could both throw across the room when I got mad, or snorkel with if I wanted to.

The only problem was that in order to be that tough, you had to sacrifice a few things -- like being able to be heard on the other end. For those first few days it was a total crap shoot as to whether anyone heard me on my new device. At first the young geniuses at the store decided it just wasn’t “sitting in the case right” and, after taking quite a while to break back into the case, it seemed like it might just be a minor thing.

Eventually I had to get a whole new case and everything has been good on that front since.

The truth is I had a hard time even answering the thing at first. When a call came in to the sound of running water (not something a woman my age should have for a ringtone), I did what I had always done -- hit the button. But nothing happens in smart phone land unless you “swipe” and who knew that was such an acquired skill.

The kids have tried to explain the difference between apps and widgets to me but I’m not there yet. I’ve downloaded everything from Skype to the NY Times but who can think about using them when I can barely figure out how to text on the thing.

That brings me to my “ying and yang” moment with my new smart phone. I was feeling pretty good about my texting ability and decided to write my daughter-in-law a clever message using a favorite phrase of my late mother. She liked to refer to anyone she thought a snob as “Mrs. Rich Bitch from Stinkerville.” That’s how I signed off on the text but when I looked up it had printed Mrs. “Reich Butch” instead. I figured I had typed it wrong yet again and corrected it and sent it off.

So I was surprised when Rachel responded by wanting to know what a Reich Butch was. I realized it sounded like a group of Nazi fighting stormtroopers. (I’m thinking there might be an app out there that could help me create a Reich Butch comic book). I corrected it again and watched what I came to understand was the phone autocorrecting my bad language. Oh my god. My new phone will not let me swear! It isn’t just a smart phone -- it is a smart **s phone.

The kids at the phone store got quite a kick out of that when I went in yet again for help, this time because I didn’t know how to take a screen shot of my case of steel to register it. The young woman who checked me in said she had never heard anyone call it that before -- something I find very difficult to believe.

They all told me I could shut the auto-correct off and but I’ve decided to make my peace with this particular feature of my SmartAs (as auto corrected) phone. It might actually make me a better person. And in the meantime I am having a lot of fun typing in some of my favorite four-letter expressions and seeing what comes up. It’s a whole new language.

So dawn it all anyway and what the duck, if you can’t beat ‘em……

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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