Can We Live Without Our Smartphones?


Can We Live Without Our Smartphones?

My story began three days before our trip to Berlin, which I wrote about last week. My wife’s cell phone was giving her problems, and she was procrastinating replacing it. I decided to get her one, as one of her presents for our 50th wedding anniversary. There was a new model of the Samsung 8 at the Verizon store that, according to the sales person, has a good camera. I also found out that I had only two more payments before I can replace my mobile phone, for the new iPhone 8, which is due to come out in September anyway. But my G4LG has everything I need, so why to replace it?

After we arrived in Berlin and I received a phone call in the middle of the night from San Francisco (there is a nine hour time difference), I decided to turn my phone off. Since my phone also served as my watch, I had no idea what time it was. I recalled the good old days before cell phones and emails. We would go away for three weeks and the only communication with the office was with landline phones. To get somewhere we had old-fashioned paper maps. At that time, I also wore a wristwatch. The thought crossed my mind – would it be possible to function like this now? The next day I suddenly felt that my phone, which I was carrying in my pocket, was unusually warm, and I could not turn it on or off. In the middle of the night, I thought to remove and return the battery, and the phone came to life, and I went back to sleep feeling relieved and proud of my accomplishment. The next morning however, it was dead again. My brother-in-law who lives in Berlin, was able to find a local repair shop for all types of mobile phones in the center of the city. After keeping my phone there for testing for the whole day, I was told that the problem is in the software. It can be reloaded but all the stored data would be lost. I decided to wait until we return to the States to find out how for the next three weeks I would do, phone free. Fortunately, I had my mini-iPad with me, where I could check and send emails, and my wife had her new phone.

Having gone three weeks without my smartphone, I came to a conclusion and have a recommendation. When you go on a trip, copy and duplicate everything. In the future, I plan to carry an extra phone or iPad or tablet with duplicate information; after all, phones can be lost, stolen, get damaged or drowned. And what if someone does not have those options? It means that you will not be able to make a call, text, use your calendar, GPS, access your contacts, know when are people’s birthdays and anniversaries, have a watch, alarm clock, search online, take photos and shoot videos, make photocopies, scan, access a dictionary, take or access your notes, look up books and other things on Amazon, access information about your credit cards and finances, have a copy of your driver’s license, order Uber/Lyft or car-sharing, play games, access entertainment, newspapers, social media, use a calculator, a flashlight, a step measure, make a parking meter payment (in Berlin this is the only way), use a medication reminder and a hotel door opener. I am sure you will come with other needs.

Please let me know.

P.S. Through the years I’ve encountered people with different phone situations. Do you remember flip phones? In Newport, Oregon I photographed a diver retrieving fallen phones from sea lions spectators. On a recent trip to Oslo, I noticed five Italians looking at five cell phones to find the entrance into the Fort which had two entrances/exits. On Market Street, a music lover was recording a street performer.

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