REALITY CHECK: What I really need is to know a little less about everything

Reality Check | Mike Taylor

Sweet Annie and I were griping about cell phone costs the other day. She wasn’t. I was.

I wasn’t complaining about the cost of MY phone, which, after all, is a super-phone capable of performing tasks unimagined less than a decade ago. It’s faster than a speeding bullet. It can leap tall buildings with a single bound.

It can suck away hours of my life with idiotic Facebook updates about what my “friends” — half of whom I don’t know from Adam — had for dinner.

By contrast, Annie’s phone is one step up from the wall-mounted crank model Andy Taylor used to call Mount Pilot when Aunt Bee was visiting there. If there’s such a thing as a “dumb phone,” my Annie owns it.

I’ve been trying to get her to update to a smart phone, or at least a less dumb phone, for months. She won’t. She doesn’t want to text, Yelp, Google, email, Bing, Yahoo or play Angry Birds. She’s perfectly content with her flip phone; a battered, plastic eyesore that looks like something left behind by the prop department after the cancellation of the original “Star Trek” series.

It was while elucidating on the deep, abiding need all modern people have to remain in constant audio, visual and textual contact with everyone they know 24/7 that I experienced an epiphany.

I was wrong.

This was an entirely new concept for me, since — to the best of my knowledge — I’ve never been wrong before. Just ask Annie; she’ll tell you, more than you want to know, probably.

I realized I was wrong when Anne pointed out that generations of phone users, ours included, had gotten along just fine communicating via large, black bricks of steel and plastic with rotary dials and handsets that weighed more than most televisions do now. Those phones were built like tanks and were almost as stylish.

But they got the job done.

Granted, a long-distance call was viewed with an awe usually reserved for pillars of fire or partings of the Red Sea.

A call to Great-Grandma Kelly in Indianapolis involved lining up all the children, oldest to youngest, dialing the phone (only after 9 p.m., when the rates dropped) and then passing the handset down the line so everyone could blurt, “Hi Gramma” while my old man looked at his watch, made twirling “c’mon c’mon” motions with his right hand, and thought about all the money he was flushing down the drain just so a little old lady could tell her bridge group she’d spoken with her grandchildren.

I spent most of my teen years backpacking in one wilderness or another. Nobody had ever heard of a cell tower and weeks would go by in which I spoke with nobody, long-or-short distance. If someone wanted to reach me, they had to wait for me to come home.

I was such a neophyte that I didn’t even know what I was missing. There were people eating spaghetti for dinner and I didn’t know. Someone thought a picture of a puppy with the words “Wuv You” superimposed over it was cute, and I didn’t know. A political activist thought Eskimos should “go back to where they came from” and — you guessed it — I didn’t know!

It was barbaric, I tell ya!

So, thank Heaven for my smart phone. I can’t wait for the implantable version — the one they’ll wire directly into my cerebral cortex. Because those few moments every day when I’m not getting an email, text, phone call, Facebook update or voice mail message just seem so … empty.

Hmm … maybe I’ll see if Annie wants to trade phones with me.

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