Saturday, May 23, 2015

Enough ...

I don't own a smartphone.

This fact seems to genuinely baffle some of the people in my life.

How can I not own a pocket computer that gives me access to all the information in the history of the world every second of every day, they wonder.

I know it's tricky for some to remember, but there was a time when we didn't have pocket computers that gave us access to all the information in the history of the world every second of every day.

Isn't that amazing?

For almost all of time, we didn't have pocket computers. And yet we managed to do nifty things like discover fire and invent the wheel – without watching how-to YouTube videos! – and build pyramids and empires – hey, that Colosseum in Rome is pretty spiffy! – and build horse-drawn carriages and then horseless carriages – cars, don'tcha know? – and figure out how to fly and and develop penicillin and build skyscrapers and put men on the moon – and bring them back! – and every other thing mankind accomplished before the pocket computer.

And because I don't own a smartphone, I also don't own a Fitbit.

The other day, I was at Bed, Bath & Beyond with my mom. The woman in front of us was buying a Fitbit for someone from a gift registry. It was $100.

I know folks who have lost and replaced those wristbands. At $100 (or more) a pop? Ouch.

So I don't have a Fitbit. What I do have is a finely tuned sense of whether I'm spending too much of the day sitting on my ass. And if I really want to obsess about steps or distance, I have a pedometer that, if memory serves, cost $7.

But I think I've used it once.

The lovely Liz Gilbert linked to this post today, which I'd read before but which I was happy to read again. You should read it, too, but the gist of it is this: a woman posted pictures of her kitchen online and received a slew of comment informing her that she should renovate. Her kitchen looked dated, they said. They cited her mismatched appliances and boring floor. She started to ponder an update. And then, the next morning, she looked at her kitchen for the miracle that it is. It's crammed full of creature comforts much of the world can barely begin to imagine.

And that's enough for her. She loves her dated, quirky kitchen. She loves the life that's lived in that dated, quirky kitchen.

I love her for that.

My TV was purchased – for me – in 1994. It was my college graduation gift, but my parents didn't buy it for me until I got my first apartment. It's a 27-inch Sony. Back in the day, that was a big TV, kids. Some years ago, a friend who was spending the night walked into my TV room and said, "Where's your TV?"

Dude. (The friend was a dude.) I get that men, especially, go all orgasmic over giant TVs, but it's not like my TV is invisible. It takes up quite a decent chunk of visual space in this room, thankyouverymuch.

And I've pondered an HDTV. I've shopped. I've priced.

And I'm still watching my 27-inch Sony. You know why? Because it still works just fine.

It went through a phase about six months ago when the colors seemed to veer from yellow-ish to pink-ish and back again.

I thought then that the day might have arrived to buy a new TV. But the colors settled back into their normal hues and you know what? A good part of the time, there's nothing worth watching on TV anyway, even with the eleventymillion channels I receive via a satellite orbiting around the earth, most likely built and launched before the advent of smartphones.

You get my point.

A friend of mine is moving next month. The condo she lives in now is far from large. She's looking at a studio apartment with a lovely terrace. She has made great strides in selling and shedding her stuff. I admire her. What remains in her life are items with true worth to her. And someday, I wouldn't be surprised if she pares back again. She may come to discover that she wants even less than she owns now. (I am fostering her wrapping paper, bows, and gift bags until she settles into a new space and better understands her storage capabilities. Neither she nor I may ever be able to overcome our gift-wrapping addictions.)

Most of us have far more than we need. I live in a "small" house by American standards but even this feels like too much space. I think, frequently, about the one-bedroom apartment I lived in before I moved here.

My studio felt a bit too small, even though it wasn't, really. It served all my needs, but I wanted a separate bedroom big enough for a queen-size bed. But my one-bedroom apartment was plenty of square footage, even if an outsize amount of it was devoted to the dining area. That was odd. But I was happy there.

I'll probably downsize again someday.

I probably still won't own a smartphone.


Blogger Rick Hamrick said...

I also don't own a smartphone, as my $8.33-per-month flip phone meets my needs.

Julia would argue that point. Still, one of us being distracted by a pocket computer is already one too many, so I remain unconvinced.

Downsizing is not in our short-term future. If it were up to me, I'd simply cite Chris Isaak as justification enough: "I don't want a big house. It's too far to walk to the bathroom."

1:27 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Hear hear. The near-ubiquity of smartphones has brought with it a steep rise in rudeness. I'm no Miss Manners, but sheesh, people: unless you're a doctor, odds are you don't need to address whatever pops up on your phone within seconds.

Love your Chris Isaak justification!

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Beth,

In moving to a new computer, I lost the URL to your blog. Glad to have found you.

Nice to know that I am not alone in forgoing the smart phone. I mostly use a landline and have what I call a geezer cellphone. It makes calls and that is it. Perfect for emergencies, when the landline won't for some strange reason communicate with the vet's after hours cell phone, and letting family know when I'm running late.

Did you hear the piece on NPR this morning about the resurgence in print books? Very interesting. I must admit that the enlargeable type of a basic Kindle was nice while recovering from eye surgery and thus not having reading glasses for several weeks.

--Kathy (Dave Waldron's college friend)

7:08 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Right on, Kathy! I have a landline, too, and always will. Cell reception sucks in my house. And on the rare occasion that I have to record something over the phone, folks are delighted that I have a real phone (corded and everything!) plugged into a wall in my office. Much better sound quality on their end.

Hope your eye(s) have healed well.

P.S. Gentle correction: His last name was Waldon.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ack. My husband's grandfather's last name was Waldron. For years, I would accidentally write "Waldon" on the letters I sent him. Guess it was time for me to switch the last names the other way. Many apologies to Dave.

There is a children's song by Sandra Boynton about a sneaker wearing bear that always makes me think about Dave.

Thank you. The eye has healed well and my eyesight is much improved.


8:31 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

:o ) An understandable confusion, having two names in your life so similar to each other.

Glad all's better on the vision front!

8:35 AM  

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