I went to get a new cell phone the other day. Mine was due for an upgrade, which was good, because it had begun losing text messages and turning itself off at odd moments.
But I couldn’t find a “replacement.” My non-smart-phone isn’t made anymore. Don’t get me wrong; mine doesn’t have a rotary dial and a cord to the wall. I regularly send and receive text messages and pictures and can access the Internet if I want to (which I don’t, but that’s another subject).
Everything in the store was high-end, super-fast, multi-capable with all features accessed through a touch display. There were no actual buttons to push, even to “dial” a call or type a text message.
Maybe – obviously – some people like that.
I prefer reading actual books and watching movies on something larger than my hand. My touch-type-trained fingers can catch mistakes while I’m touching actual keys but not on a “virtual” keyboard.
And yet, because the captains of commerce and arbiters of fashion have decided that’s no longer “cool,” I’m out of luck. All that’s available is something I’m not interested in.
Lots of words have been spilled in recent months about a growing appreciation for diversity in (at least some segments of) our society. And that’s a good thing. We are different, unique, varied in many wonderful ways, and that diversity enriches each of our lives and our community as a whole.
It wouldn’t be any fun if we all were football players, or violinists, or LOTR geeks or any other one thing. It’s what you can do that I can’t, or the knowledge you have that I don’t, that causes me to marvel and garners my admiration.
And I appreciate the history of technology and product development in the last hundred years. Once upon a time, everyone had the same black rotary-dial phone in their homes, with the same bell ringer. Henry Ford is famous for offering his cars in any color a customer wanted, “as long as it’s black.”
But no more.
The variety available in any consumer item is mind-boggling. And research has suggested that the multiplicity of choices can contribute to stress, rather than relieving it.
So why can’t I get a phone with features that I want? I wouldn’t use Thor’s hammer to hang a picture, or a Sonic Screwdriver to tighten a wobbly table leg. As even the helpful clerk at the cell phone store admitted, I don’t need a Ferrari to go to the grocery store.
Because I still want texts from my busy children and pictures of my grandkids, I caved. But I’m not happy about it.