Tuesday, June 25, 2013

PhonePhobia

Donna-Lane is not a fan of telephones. Any phone. Smart phone, dumb phone, landline, probably even public pay phones (yes, they still have them in Europe). Phones are mostly a source of frustration, representing calls out of the blue that interrupt her focus when working to meet a deadline, businesses requesting information that could have as easily been obtained with an email, and - the worst - telemarketers (she is polite, appreciating that they're just trying to earn a living in a crap job, but she does dispatch them quickly).

She is more than glad to talk or chat. Skype. Facebook. Email. Pretty much anything via the computer. And in person, she's a fantastic conversationalist.

But a telephone is a different inanimal object. I've even noticed that her voice changes in pitch when she answers a phone versus regular conversation. Much more reserved, more professional, more guarded. It's not that she doesn't like the caller - some of them are good friends - it's just that she doesn't care to use a handset of any kind.

It also has to do with not wanting to be connected every waking second of every day. She likes her solitude. Reading books. Taking walks. Cooking and enjoying a nice meal together at the table instead of the 'rude' meal in front of a TV. (And don't even think about answering a cell phone at the dinner table, the ultimate in rude.)

I've been seeing several articles this week about people wanting to get disconnected from the ubiquitous electronics that seem to dominate our lives. Suggestions on how to 'unplug' for an hour or two. One about a 'boot camp' with no phones or computers for a week. (I wonder if there's a 'Mobiholics Anonymous' group for people addicted to their online worlds?)

Not D-L. When she's connected, she's a dynamo. Writing and formatting newsletters. Building and maintaining databases. Firing off subscriber invoices. Crafting her next novel. Multiple blogs. FB and Twitter posts and comments. Hundreds of emails daily. But when it's time to power off, everything's off.

She expressed her phone-phobia in a blog this week. http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.fr/2013/06/i-have-new-smart-phone.html.

You'll note that we bought her a smart phone, a 4G model in fact. It's not yet activated. When we went to the bank, through which we purchased our phones, we were missing a document. So the customer service rep handed D-L her phone to retrieve the email containing the document. She didn't get past trying her password 2 or 3 times. Lack of familiarity with the touch screen, I figured. Or maybe, secretly, she didn't want to have the phone activated at all. (Just one more way for the NSA to track us, eh?)

I managed to activate my smart phone, but I'm still learning my way around it, and there's some frustration with that process. Network connections have seemed spotty, but that could be my 'operator error.' I hesitate to voice the problems I'm having, which may only serve to reinforce her phobia. But we have a transparency rule, nothing hidden from each other, nothing unexpressed. So at the risk of turning her off the smart phone completely, I mention my frustrations too.

I don't expect D-L to become a cell phone junkie. Ever. She'll probably keep it off most of the time, except when we're apart AND there's a reason one or the other might need to call (such as last week when my train from Paris was going to be late ... which, of course, gave her more time at the station to read - she almost always has a book with her.) When she covers the World Credit Union Conference next month, she may use the new phone to tweet during the day, keeping her newsletter readers up to date on the events and the issues. And she may use the new phone's great camera feature, which saves carrying a separate camera.

But don't expect her to use any apps. And don't expect her to answer if you try to call (the phone will probably be off.) And don't expect her to get your voice mail - because that requires using the phone both to retrieve and erase the VM.

About the only way Donna-Lane might use a smart phone regularly is if she could read a book on it. (I bet there's an app for that.) But with the phone part turned off.

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