Monday, September 22, 2014

Smartphone? For me, not necessarily

I'm wary of technology sometimes. Although it means to "help" (and in many ways, it certainly does), I think it's succeeding in making me dumber, or at the very least, making me remember less. As a writer who wants to remember absolutely everything, down to the last gritty detail, this is highly disconcerting.

Cases in point:

* The other day someone asked me what I was reading. I couldn't remember. I remember I liked it, I could tell you the plot, but I couldn't tell you the title or the author. This is because when I turn on my Kindle, it brings me right back to the page I left off at last time I read. Convenient, yes--for everything BUT remembering what the hell it is I'm reading. Nowhere on the screen is the author's name or the book title; I'd actually have to click away from the book to see those things. I've been longing for real books lately, you know, paperbacks and hardbounds, the kind with dog-eared pages that smell like paper and love.

* I've been listening to an Interpol CD like crazy for the past week. Like, I've heard the whole thing at least ten times. I don't remember the title of the album or the names of any of the songs. Now, I realize I could just tap my iPod and the album and song name will appear, but it's so much easier to just let the whole album play as I work or write. It's not like having a physical CD, where I would scour the CD case and its insert, inspecting song titles, lyrics, artwork, etc. It feels more streamlined and cleaner, but it also feels like something's missing. Something like a dozen or so song titles from my brain, or perhaps something more. (Full disclosure: I still listen to CDs in the car, and you will eventually pry my Muse discs from my cold, dead hands.)

* I have an iPhone. The other day I upgraded to iOS 8. I didn't want to do this, but I knew some apps would cease to work for me if I didn't. The update took forever, gave me several errors, made me update my iTunes in the process, and then, when I finally got back into my phone, whatever iPhone imps were at work had messed with my brightness, my location settings, turned on predictive text, and more (a quick tour through Settings fixed all this, but still, it was annoying). But the worst part was that now, when I minimized and wanted to toggle between apps, it displayed my recent contacts, whom I could call at the touch of a button. I immediately realized that because I am a klutz and tend to fumble around with my phone, if I kept those contacts there, I would eventually end up dialing one of them at 5:30 AM, something I doubt any of them would appreciate. So I removed that functionality. Seriously, there's a list of recent calls (helpful), and a whole big contact list (long, but also helpful); why the bloody hell do I need yet another way to call people? Or accidentally call them at odd hours? Okay, so it might take me an extra five seconds to find the person I want to call in my Recents or my contact list, but seriously...who cares? In five seconds, I can write, oh, maybe 3-4 words. So it's not like it's saving me much meaningful time.

I get it--these are obviously first-world problems. I don't have to use Apple products or a Kindle; I'm choosing to. And overwhelmingly, I like the products. I just don't love how they seem to be conspiring to make me retain less information, making me feel like I'm flitting from thing to thing and not taking as much in as before.

And now I'm going to go listen to the latest Arctic Monkeys album (brilliant stuff), hold a book in my hands, and keep my reclusive writer-self away from the phone.

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