I AM retreating from technology. Goodby to the world of mobile apps for every occasion, farewell to Word in miniature at my fingertips and wifi on the go.
For years I’ve lugged around an Apple smartphone without quite knowing why. A phone which cost me £25 a month and is stuffed with so much hi-tech junk that its battery needs charging overnight EVERY night and yet, by the following evening like some poor patient dependant on daily dialysis, is not far off expiring.
As with patient and dialysis machine, so the mobile super phone phone can never be allowed to be far from its charger.
Not only that but I misplace the phone two or three times a day, which means I have to find my own mobile it by calling its number from another phone.
People too young to remember red, street corner phone boxes with Button A and Button B need to know that phones were originally designed to spend their entire life in one place, sitting in a cradle. Newer generations view that type of sedentary landline phone in the same light as, say, a spinning jenny.
The poet Craig Raine once vividly compared such a phone to a weightlifter squatting to attempt a massive heave. Nice image. You can see what he meant (above)
Despite there being twenty trillion mobile phones in the world, make a call to one and no-one ever answers. Virtually all calls are met with a recorded message. And to ensure we stay on the line far longer than is necessary (and hence boost the phone companies’ profits), this recorded message doesn’t merely ask us to leave a message of our own, it also offers the astoundingly original advice that once we have said our piece, we may choose to hang up.
Brilliant! Wait a minute, though. There’s more: we are further informed that, should we require further options once we have left our message, we may press hash.
Has there been a single recorded incident of anyone pressing hash for such information? And if so, to what purpose? What ARE these further options?
My smartphone has a million potential appliances, all of which to me are irrelevant. I am incessantly urged to download this or that app, yet lack all inclination to do so.
The last straw came after I damaged the screen and bought a replacement in a small phone shop in Whitley Bay. Soon afterwards I was informed by ‘Big Brother’ Apple that as mine was no longer an official Apple screen (three times more expensive) they would accept no responsibility for any future faults.
All of which led me last week to jack it in and downgrade to a small Nokia for £5 per month, which I can use to make phone calls, send texts and take photos, which is enough. Its battery operates, untroubled, for a full five days, Admittedly texts, with the less sophisticated keyboard, take longer to type, but so what? As a result, I type fewer.
I am rescued from the treadmill that fills thousands (millions?) of consumers with the dread insecurity that they may not be at the cutting edge of phone technology. THe kind of folk who queue from midnight to be among the first to lay hands on the new Series 8 or Series 9 or whatever they believe to be the latest device to confer upon them a special status.
On the Tyneside Metro, in a carriage of maybe two dozen people, I am often the only person not locked into a small screen, wearing headphones, or both. Twenty years ago, we would have viewed this as a sci-fi dystopian nightmare. Now it is the norm in any public place in every country. Murders could be committed in full view and who would notice?
I mooch off, a disconsolate old git.
How optimistic that all seemed not so long ago. Once upon a time I grew excited that the new wave of companies such as Apple represented a fresh dawn. Now comes the growing suspicion that they, Google, Facebook and the like, are simply turning into the new generation of capitalist bastards out to milk us.
Ah well. Perhaps ’twas ever thus.