The Pencil vs. The Smartphone

Fact #1) I love pencils. I love the word pencil. I love the name of the brands: Ticonderoga, PaperMate. I love the sound the pencil sharpener makes when I sharpen them. I love the way pencils smell, the way they write. The way they are so inexpensive these days. The way they remind me of those tests in high school, and then later in life, the little blue essay books in college. A pencil is the perfectionist’s playground, a thought can be scrawled, a graphic etched, only to be erased away with just those college-ruled blue lines remaining when all is said and done. pencils

Fact #2) If someone is having an important meeting on their phone while ordering their meal THROUGH ME, their server, at a restaurant, I am still stuck-up enough to take it more drastically than I should, and want to rudely come up with reasons to speak loudly enough for them to get the point that I think their behavior is unacceptable. This is a problem of mine I am working on. They hopefully are working on theirs too. More than likely though, they have not become aware that it even IS a problem and likely never will. Which I suppose, makes it not their problem, but mine.

Fact #3) I don’t know three facts that pertain to what I am writing about.

Onto the matter at hand, or in hand, if you prefer me to be precise. I just got a fancy new phone. Don’t worry, thanks to the mail-in-rebate, it was free. And I didn’t get an iPhone, though now I am wondering if that was the best decision. One can never know in the heat of the moment. The phone is so incredibly spiffy that it has Facebook, Words with “Friends”, my Gmail account, it can sing and dance, tell me my future, and so many other features that my head is bursting just thinking about it! So, now I find myself like Pavlov’s dog himself, hearing the “chimes” that tell me a message has come in, someone “likes” me and my new haircut on Facebook, or someone is defaming my Twitter page (That I don’t actually have, due to lack of TWEETing bones in my body).  The phone is smart, it can tell me what I want to type before I type it. But is it making me dumber? Rather than circle a city aimlessly for hours finding new back roads to the nearest Bojangles, I usually just end up Googling it or using my GPS on my smart phone. This eliminates the chance for me to use my noggin’ to expand my horizons and rather, stick to what the talking British woman inside my phone tells me to do. Even if she tells me to make endless U-turns and go in circles, I will devote my afternoon to her relentless commands.

Should I revert back to my daytimer and pencil and having no contact with the rest of the world? Was lifting that rock I was previously hiding under a wise move? I’ve made a list of pros and cons regarding SmartPhones, iPhones, cPhones, bPhones, and iKnowledgy. See bewlow.


Fixation. Because of my Smartphone, and the fact that my mom can text me her grocery list, my boss can update my work schedule and I can read it instantly, and I get job interviews in my email on demand, it takes me a lot longer to run errands. I have to stop in the grocery aisles and respond to my friend about going to the concert Friday. I have to pull my car over and accept the wedding invitation from Amber, and I am constantly pausing in the middle of taking people’s orders to play my Scrabble word. Ok, so that last one was a joke, but I have checked my phone at work and gotten distracted and swept off my feet by a news article or something completely stupid and pithy. I’ve even dropped dead weights on my toes at the gym because I attempt to strengthen my biceps while “liking” that picture you just posted. Not healthy. Point is, I check my phone too much. Those darn “incoming message” chimes pique my curiosity every time. And as with all things, if you don’t keep up with it, the backlog of messages and repercussions is enormous.

Swype Tpye. All thanks to my new phone, I have more misspelled words in my text messages, emails, and updates than ever before. In fact, if Scrabble let you misspell words, I would do it there too for more points. Swiping out words on my phone, allows it to decide what I am going to say, and often this results in people thinking I am wanting to go out for toffee instead of coffee. I’ve been doing a lot of “living” rather than “loving” and I can’t spell the word “if” to save my lif. The sad part is, I just allow these typos to stay rather than meticulously going back and changing them all to be correct. If I had a pencil in hand, I would never allow this type of behavior. Spelling, grammar, words, these are my passions, yet I allow the phone to express them for me like a bumbling idiot.

Expanding My Consciousness. Despite the fact that juggling my phone and the apple I’m eating has made me slightly more clumsy, I am in the crowd that thinks this phone is actually bringing us together as a civilization. I am able to talk to my friend in India on my ride to work, I can see how my stocks and bonds are doing before bringing someone their breakfast, and I can send pictures that are out-of-this world to anyone at anytime. However, we hear it time and time again, about how we should not allow these devices to pervade into our day to day interactions with colleagues, loved ones, friends, and the gas attendant. We must now work even harder to be ever-aware and present, and of fixed mind. It’s like a constant meditation. This phone might actually be making EVEN ME even smarter! Oops, I just mixed cyanide into my water instead of honey because I wasn’t paying attention while brewing my tea….

Personalization. One thing I really dig about all this technology is the power to personalize. To make it feel like this phone was created JUST for me. I am the only one who has a phone like this. I record myself belting out obnoxious tunes and play them back and then save it as my ringtone. I can snap a picture of something inspiring and make it my background. I can put my contacts in with funny names and profile pictures. Basically, I feel famous and important 99% of the time. Even if it’s only to myself. You gotta start somewhere?

What is the answer? A fine balance. I’m not about to burn my notebook paper and pencils anytime soon, but I also kind of like having the ability to be connected. Times are changing, and it is what it is. People don’t have to dig through my dresser drawers after I die to find those rusty manuscripts for the masterpiece I am writing. They can just go to my blog and read all my incredible mind-blowing insights LIVE. We can see the Presidential election unfold before our very eyes, while we’re in the bathtub if we want. I’m sure when I am buried in the woods, cozy in my lake house, tucked away in the folds of the mountains, I will change my mind and be wishing things were a little less “wired”. But for now, I just have to remember that I am innately, human, primal, pure, and see the beauty of the animalistic minds that have developed such technological masterpieces. Hopefully, as a culture, as a human race, we will be SMART enough to use this for the betterment of ALL.


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