My Gadgets, Myself

I love my cellphone or hate it, depending on the day and the circumstance. My iPhone 6 comes with a battery I must soon replace. It seems to operate on its own speed in its own time and I just can’t rely on it for accuracy any more. But, venturing into the Apple store is one of my least favorite undertakings, so I try to find other more creative ways to encourage my phone’s performance.

In a very short period of time, we have become dependent on ubiquitous gadgets and systems that can improve our lives, entertain us, or drive us crazy. I will admit a wistfulness for days without the all-consuming web of data, especially during moments when my bank’s website states “system down” just when I’m desperate to find out exactly how much is in my account. Or, how about those times being immobilized at an airport during a “system failure?”

As boomers, I believe we have an edge on what I consider to be a technology crisis. We can employ tried and true child-rearing techniques to get our pervasive machinery in tip-top order. Old school methods such as discipline, timeout, reduced screen time can compel an errant phone to comply without exhausting ourselves in the process. Here are a few that I’ve tried that I’m happy to pass on.

1. Threaten it. There are so many competitors out there, I have told my iPhone that it is in its own best interest to act right or be replaced by one of its rivals. Yelling at my phone to get it to cooperate sometimes works. Note to the young man at the gym who overheard me screaming in a whisper to my phone the other day: yes, you did hear me telling it that I hated it. But it was merely an attempt to shock it out of its malaise to get it to function properly.

2. Turn it off. I can punish it by leaving it all alone in a corner, power off, with no purpose except to occupy a 2”x 4” square of real estate on my kitchen counter. The message I am giving it is that if it can’t act right, it won’t act at all. Although I admit that sometimes I miss its eerie glow when I enter the room, and will turn it on, just to make sure it’s still working. It’s the electronic equivalent of picking up the receiver on a Princess phone to make sure there’s a dial tone when my boyfriend didn’t call, back in the ‘70’s.

3. Move it. Perhaps my pockets are lint-filled or just too dark for it to operate successfully. After all, isn’t my phone almost human, with its voice-activated commands and ability to determine my location? If so, doesn’t the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted” apply? If conditions aren’t just right, how could I expect the poor dear to perform its job satisfactorily? Rather than blaming it for malfunctioning, it may be my responsibility to find different places to stash my phone.

4. Hang out at the Apple store. If I’m on a first-name basis with the geeks at the Genius Bar, maybe my phone and all other Apple gadgets will get preferential treatment, and I’ll never run the risk of a shutdown. Despite what happens in Congress or around the world, my phone will function.

5. Befriend a geek. I don’t have an 8-year old as a relative or a neighbor, but I can find one in my community. I will make time to volunteer at a local school, babysit my neighbor’s kids, post fliers at the local grocery store. This will be my ace-in-a-hole to avoid future iPhone meltdowns, which normally lead to human disintegration. I guess it’s just a fact: my gadget, myself. If the gadgets don’t work, neither do I.

Follow these techniques, and you’ll never have to say you’re sorry to any of your gadgets again. Now, please excuse me, while I go power up my phone. Her time-out period has ended.

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