Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I'm getting left behind, and I don't care so much

Several years ago, a student gave me the gift of an iPhone 4. It was already obsolete by the time she gave it to me, but it was free and if I could find free wifi I could check my email and messages during my music travels.

I appreciated the gift, and have used it daily since then.

A couple years ago, another friend gifted me with an iPhone 6. It's battery needed replacing, which would cost me money, but it was newer and could run more apps than the 4.

It's sitting on our CD shelf as I type this. I haven't done anything with it yet.
I continue to use the 4, because I'm used to it, it's simpler and has fewer doo-dads for me to have to figure out. And the battery is working fine so far. In fact, it seems more robust than the 6.

The only problem -- the same problem I've had with all my technology -- is that because of its age, I can't download newer apps, or newer versions of already-existing apps.

It's a problem only because people expect me to be like them and have the latest devices so I can do things like call an Uber or Lyft; rent a bikeshare bike when I visit a city; or find my way around using GPS.

I don't have these apps and cannot download them onto my 4. It's too old and older versions of the apps are not supported -- or, in many cases, even available anymore.

And honestly? I don't really care.

I don't feel like I'm missing out on a lot when I can't do all these things, because they mostly don't interest me. I like the fact that when I last owned a car in 1990, I had a perfectly functional 1986 copy of the Thomas Guide under the front passenger's seat. It was all I ever need to find my way around parts of town I didn't know. When not driving, public transit was great, and the printed schedules and map booklets they used to provide back then worked just fine.

Today, even many homeless people have smartphones. I'm not sure how they can afford a monthly plan. I sure can't. That's why I continue to use my decade-old flip-phone. It's pay-as-you-go, and the network isn't everywhere I'd like it to be so I'm sometimes out of range in cities where seemingly everyone else has connectivity. But it's also a hell of a lot cheaper than a smartphone plan, and for someone who doesn't keep their cell phone on day and night it makes sense. It does not make me popular with my more up-to-date friends, since they can only call me on my flip-phone (texting is slow, awkward and very expensive on a pay-as-you-go phone).

At home, when I'm online I use my laptop.

And at home, I'm on my laptop more than I'd like to be. So I make a point of being away from computers for awhile every day, whether it's for bike-riding, yardwork, music or just hanging out.

A curious freedom comes with getting older, especially as a woman. Older women are invisible in so many ways. We have a harder time getting work. We aren't taken seriously by the mostly younger people who seem to be running the world these days. And while that can be pretty harsh, it can also be freeing. If I'm invisible, I don't have to struggle to keep up -- with technology, with fashion or anything else that younger people have had to buy into in order to "get ahead" in our winning-obsessed world.

(In game theory, I'm someone who plays the game simply in order to be in the game. I don't really care that much about winning or losing. This makes me rather ill-suited for capitalism. I do the best I can under the circumstances, and try not to get caught by the winner-take-all gamers.)

Since I don't play to win, I don't really care a whole lot about whether or not I'm keeping up with someone else's version of the game (in which there's winning or losing, rather than just playing.)
And that means I sort of don't really care about spending money I don't have to stay technologically up to date.

So when this 4 finally gives out, I might take the 6 in to the local Mac store and find out what it would cost to upgrade the battery. Or I might further limit my screen time by simply using my laptop, which is sure to last for awhile yet (since I don't fill its memory to capacity, and I don't use it 24/7).

I feel like we could approach a tipping point where people burn out on social media and long-distance friendships in favor of strengthening local connectivity. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I don't plan to go shopping for new tech anytime soon.

In fact, tonight might be a good time for a little bicycle ride.

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