Choices: My Strange, Ambivalent Relationship With Modern Comms

I love gadgets and I am strangely techie for a bird of my age. But it is often a love-hate relationship.

Take me and my mobile phone. Yes, I’ve got one. No, I don’t know the number. Why’s that?   Well it’s main two uses are to allow my niece and nephews and my cleaning lady to text me. That’s about it really. I don’t much care for texting. I don’t do it on the phone itself but on the T-Mobile website where I can type as fast as I think, well nearly.    And I certainly don’t want my mobile telephone to ring, oh no. But then I don’t want any telephones to ring, especially if you are calling from the land of WITHHELD, wherever that is.

Another use of the mobile phone is to have it with me in case something untoward happens to me when in the car, a breakdown for instance, although I haven’t had one of those since the last Big Snow and even then I managed to limp home myself. But you never know, better to be safe than sorry and all that jazz.

Today is my monthly visit to my beautician and I have had to put a note in my diary which says “Take Phone”. This is because I cannot park at my destination unless I have a mobile phone and I forgot it last month, such is my lack of care for it.   Advancing tech like this is disabling to many. My Mother, were she alive, wouldn’t be able to manage with that for instance.   She never mastered the PIN number nor did she drive a computer. She once sent me a text which it turned out was a hoax from the other members of my family sitting in a pub with her and having a laugh at my reaction “OMG! I’ve just had a text from my Mum!”

When I was out yesterday at a workshop, we used my mobile to park, then went into the gig. I met someone who used to be a client and at the end of the day she asked for my number and I said “No. You can email me and you can pop over but you can never phone.” Frankly, she just isn’t close enough to me to have that privilege.   Few are.   Please don’t take it badly.

Whenever the phone rings, rarely,  it interrupts me, my thinking, my privacy, my peace, my flow. And every time I don’t answer my land line, I oblige you to send me an email which I prefer because it’s quiet and I can deal with it when I like.   Soon, after I’ve concluded a piece of business and gone off on my travels, I won’t need a land line at all.   Skype is good. Skype by appointment is peaceful.   Land lines must surely be on borrowed time too, don’t you think? A bit like postmen. Bless mine though, especially the parcel guy.

And then there’s me and my TV. I haven’t got one.   I gave up my TV and video (remember those?) in 1997 to a pal who wanted one but couldn’t get a rental because he’d just moved house and wasn’t yet on the electoral roll.   Do people even try to rent TVs any more? Does the TV rental business still exist? I suspect not.   I gave up my TV because I was at a time in my life when I didn’t have enough time for reading. And I was revolting against the revolting content of much of TV in 1997.

But my prime motivator was that I was building a new me, a new career and a new life. And time spent watching TV just didn’t fit in with that.   It was wasteful. It sucked up time, turning me into someone less productive. I didn’t want the propaganda it brought into my life or the bad news and I didn’t like the person it was turning me into. And it offered up the possibility/probability of yet another time-sucking addiction.

Fifteen years on and I’ve achieved that set of goals and more time has opened up in my life for leisure and what do I discover? TV is much better, there’s more choice. Reality TV used to mean ghastly Big Brother. Now it means all sorts of fascinating human beings attempting challenges which will change them – and me – for life.    Snowy ones, dancing ones, Crazy Gap Year ones, bring back Meals On Wheels ones. Real people doing real things which interest, inspire and uplift me.   Some of these programmes restore my faith in human nature, on the days where restoration might be required.   Equally there are days when there is nothing of interset to me, currently Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

But there’s information and entertainment and so much more. My eyes are really wide open to all the possibilities for emotional and educational experiences on my laptop, ‘cos I still don’t have a TV but BBC iPlayer is my pal because it puts the choice back in my hands.

So I’ve revealed myself to myself in this piece. What I want in everything is choice. My choice.   My choice what to watch and when and my choice who to speak to and when.

Now, to my iPad. Well that’s just a love affair.

photo credit: irisgodd3ss via photopin cc

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