Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gone over to the Dark Side

RIP, little flip phone.

When cell phones first became popular, I resisted getting one.  I didn't want to become one of *those* people, walking down the street talking on the phone.  But pay phones went away, I went back to school, my schedule got weird, and sometimes I had to let Bob know where I was.  I broke down and got a second-hand phone, courtesy of a teenage girl who wanted an upgrade.

That one died a few years later, and I got a basic flip phone from track phone.  Whenever the subject of cell phones came up, I would display it proudly:  "My phone makes phone calls.  Nothing else.  It's A Phone."  I was a reverse snob.  I would not be a slave to a phone.

I've been an observer of the smart phone phenomena.  People no longer walk down the street talking on the phone--it's all a silent tapping of the thumbs.  When mobile phones first came out, they were like carrying a brick--it became a status symbol to have the latest smallest phone.  Then, when smart phones appeared, they started getting larger and larger, so now they no longer slip into pockets but are always held in the hand, or in special belt carriers.

I've seen smart phones replace experiences.  Groups of people sitting together at a coffee shop, oddly silent, each staring at her own tiny screen.  When we went to Harry Potter World, we saw people carrying their phones on "selfie sticks" recording themselves.  They could prove they had been there, but had they really experienced it?

Once, I was leading a museum tour at dusk, and a magical moment occurred at the wolf pen.  The wolves gathered, pointed their noses to the sky, and began howling.  It's a wild, primitive sound.  I stood there, listening, listening to the wind in the trees, seeing the day fade, taking in the whole avatistic feeling.  Then I realized I was about the only one doing this.  Everyone else was staring at the small screens on their phones, taking a videotape.  Yes--they recorded it.  But they didn't *feel* it. 

Not for me.  I'm living this life.  I may not have videos, but I have memories.

But a tiny rebellious corner of my mind sometimes envied people who had a camera always at hand.  Sometimes I saw things, and I would have liked to take a shot.  

And then my darling little flip phone died.

It was with great angst and sadness that I swallowed my pride, allowed the people I had bragged to to laugh at me, and ordered the smallest, dumbest smart phone that I could find.

How the mighty have fallen.  When I'm asked if I would be available on a certain day or time, I no longer can give the lofty "I'll check my calendar and get back to you."  I pull out my phone and check.  When I had to do some calculations, I didn't use my brain and a pencil and paper--just thumbed the "calculator" app.   Down that slippery slope I slide.

But having the camera is nice.  The museum has some amazing dinosaur sculptures, made out of car parts. (this picture from the museum web site)

But one day, upon taking a closer look, I found a snake hanging out on the hip bones.  And I had a camera.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Bob and I participated in the Camp Gordon Johnston parade.  We've done this for years--just check the blog on Mays past and you can read about it.  We were partway there when Bob realized that we hadn't grabbed the camera.  But we didn't think we'd see anything we hadn't seen before.  But we were wrong--we met a most extraordinary young man named Skyler.  it was the luck of the draw--just before the parade started, the MC came and asked if Skyler could ride with us.  He was from a small town several hours away, but had heard about this parade and wanted to come be in it, and be able to talk to veterans.  He's only 20, but he had put a lot of time, effort, and money to be entirely kitted out.  And I had my phone, with camera

(As an aside--Skyler was in heaven getting to ride in Bob's jeep.  His dream is to own one sometime.  He was in a higher level of heaven after Bob said "hey kid--want to take her for a spin?"   It's lovely to be able to make someone that happy)

But I still feel myself starting to skid down that slope.  Today I was at the museum, but not many people were there, so I spent some time "manning" the hawk (meaning walking around with her on my fist).  I had gone down to the boardwalk that overlooks the lake and deer habitat.  I was leaning on the rail, looking at the still water and the Spanish moss and a deer wandering through the palmettos, with this marvelous bird on my hand, and was just overwhelmed with the richness and good fortune that is my life.

And I took a picture.   ARRRRGHHHHH!!!

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