Sunday, November 16, 2014

I, Phone

This week I got a new phone.

I loved my trusty little red flip phone I've had since college, but I read an article about how flip phones are in vogue again for hipsters and celebrities looking to "declutter" and I couldn't bear the thought of anyone mistaking me for a hipster. Or Donald Trump.

Actually, the real reason is some of the calls and text messages people were sending me were disappearing enroute. I can only assume they were eaten by the same monster who likes to collect half my socks from the washing machine while it's running.

I thought about getting a new flip phone, but as smart phones get increasingly more advanced dumb phones have trouble receiving photos, group texts and emojis. (Why are they called emojis now instead of emoticons? Or are they two different things? This is why I didn't want to buy a smart phone until I was old enough to have grandkids to explain these things to me.)

After some research I decided upon the Nokia Lumia 635. It seemed like a good deal, and I already have Windows 8 on my laptop so I knew how to use it.

After bringing my new phone home I activated my new SIM card and turned on my phone, at which point Cortana, the Microsoft version of Siri, introduced herself and asked if she could "be of assistance."

She went on to explain that being of assistance meant using my "location, contacts, voice input, info from email and text messages, browser history, search history, calendar details and other info" to get to know me.

Apparently if it's your phone that does this instead of a real, live person it's called a "personal assistant" instead of "stalker" or "NSA employee."

After reading up on how Cortana would use this information to subsequently choose restaurants for me, present me with articles about my favorite sports team, tell me jokes or let me know I needed to leave early for my appointment because of traffic, I had visions of starring in a high-tech remake of Fatal Attraction and decided to turn Cortana off.

She stalked me anyway. The first time I started to type in a web address on my phone the suggestions that came up were things I had Googled on my laptop. Oddly specific things that there's no way were just general suggestions.

Why does this not freak anyone else out?

She also won't stop alerting me multiple times a day that my friends are having birthdays, no matter how many ways I try and tell her to stop. Just know Cortana really cares about your birthdays, guys.
Like to the point that I'm worried she will steal my credit card number and tell Amazon to send you a present in the name of personal-assistanting me.

Luckily my phone also does normal phone stuff too. I did learn how to make a phone call, although learning how to not call people accidentally by pushing random buttons has turned out to be a bit more of a challenge.

There are a lot of random buttons on my phone that I have no idea what they do. Considering how advanced smart phones have gotten, I'm a little afraid to try them for fear of what might happen. The button with the lightning bolt could have to do with my phone's power, or I could accidentally shock myself with a Taser app. You never know these days.

What I do know is that I don't like how big my phone is. I don't understand how this is progress. We made fun of phones that size from the nineties, remember? It was like "Ha ha look at how big your phone is compared to my Razr." And now those same people are like "Hey look my phone is almost as big as my tablet! It's so much cooler than yours."

Make up your mind, people.

My phone not fitting in my pocket is not cool, it's a huge inconvenience. Is it too much to ask the fashion industry to get with the times and give women smart phone sized pockets?

I suppose the answer is yes, considering I found out the other day the reason women's buttons are inconveniently located on the left side of their shirts is from the days when women all had servants to dress them and it was easier for the serving maids to button things from that side.

I'm supposed to buy a whole new wardrobe every season, but you can't make women's shirts for right-handed people after two hundred years?

But I digress.

Overall I like my phone, despite the fact that I am also slightly worried that one day it will go all "I, Robot" on me and try to kill me (or in this case: I, Phone. Ha ha.)

For now, however, I will enjoy my ability to check Facebook, read emails, look up directions, use Google to win arguments and listen to Pandora while out and about.

I'll have to order my tinfoil hat using a library computer, though. Cortana might not like it.