I’ve got my smart phone, I’ve got some Velcro; which body part should I attach my phone to?

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BOOMER LIFE 1Am I the only person who doesn’t have their cell phone by their side to immediately respond to messages, especially text messages?

I get all sorts of flack from loved ones who think I should have as many pockets as they do or somehow have my phone Velcroed to my body for cell phone instant response. 

Call me 20th century, but I feel like a phone call is a phone call, if it’s a smartphone like I have or even a flip phone like my sister still has and loves. If the message is important and my phone is upstairs and I’m working in the basement, that person will leave a message. I’m not going to race up two flights of stairs should I happen to hear it ring. If they don’t leave a message, it was spam, not important, someone I didn’t know, a robocall, or whatever.

I know that many millennials have their smartphones handy all the time and can immediately respond to whatever is beeping, ringing, vibrating from their phone. (Geez, is it that important?) Maybe I’m overstating, but just taking cues from my own family. Often when we gather, they can multi-task with the best of them: have adult conversations with visiting adults, tend to the dogs, make something healthy for their children to eat, and wash and fold laundry – all at the same time.

Growing up with a rotary phone – one – for the entire family, I learned that calls had to be prioritized. Adults came first. And then when they didn’t require to use the telephone, we teens spent endless amounts of time hidden around the corner or halfway up the stairs talking to friends we just saw in school (were you ever tasked to “undo” the very long telephone cord that was tangled every-which-way? Sortta like a Rubik’s Cube.) 

In high school, I was awarded the much-prized Princess phone, still rotary, with my very own phone number! (Which I can’t remember, although I do remember my home phone number, when you didn’t have to use an area code and it started with the first two letters of a word: Tr(inity)7-3467 was my home phone number in Philadelphia. JE5-7968 was our number when we moved to another part of the city. Another useless number I still know is my high school locker number. 5-39-19. Who remembers their locker number? Why?!)


Notice that earlier I said kids back then spent loads of time talking to friends they had just seen at school. Nowadays, kids are talking to friends while on the way to school, at school, after school and on into the night. Lordy, who has that much to say?

Nope, I’d much rather watch reruns of Law and Order or Columbo. Or on Saturday early evenings, The Rifleman. 

Yes, texting is handy for many situations (“Are you on your way?” With a smiley face icon or “Route 93 is closed in both directions. Don’t wait for me. Could be hours!”)

And who, (I would almost say: among us baby boomers, but I think it applies to most non-geeky people who have a smartphone) knows absolutely everything that your phone can do to supposedly make your life easier? I went from the $1,000 Samsung Note series to the Samsung Fan Series at half the price – and still don’t know even half of what the darn phone can do to make my life easier. But it does make my life more challenging when something happens within those smartphone innards to change something I was used to and now have to either spend hours asking Google how to fix it back the way it was or read the 1,000-page manual (I exaggerate) to find out how to return it to a previous setting. 

And all the apps on these things. They can be wonderful — apps for airlines, “Find my phone” (I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve used that app; my phone has been left at restaurants, work, my car, someone else’s car…), eBay, Amazon, portals for my medical stuff, Kindle, Live Nation, Spotify, and others.

But did you ever look at all the apps you’ve downloaded and have no idea what they were for? (Yes, I do uninstall them). Do I really need Hilton Honors, AARP Now, American Heart Association Booster, three different calculators, Happify, Smart Tutor [Now what is that? Time to uninstall.]

And besides that, you must ensure that you protect your personal information, managing the world of phone app settings to make sure no bugs, malware, or other malady hits your phone. I just counted: I have 96 apps on my phone that are not Google, Microsoft, or Samsung-related. Ninety-six????? Is that normal? Wait, I’ll ask Google: “Normally, an average person has 40 apps installed on his phone. Out of those 40 apps, 89% of the time is split between 18 apps. This means, more than half of those apps remain unused. With the increase in the age group, the number of apps installed decreases.” Looks like I have a bunch of apps to review to see if I need them or even use them. 

I, and others who love me, have to come to the realization that my phone and I are not “one.” I recently read that people typically look at their phones more than 300 times per day, even without doing anything once they’ve glanced at it! I am happy to say that even though I have more than twice the number of apps on my phone, an entire day can go by when, if it isn’t ringing, I don’t look it. Sometimes I don’t even remember where it is in the house! (Did you even have to call your cell phone from your landline (if you are from the stone age and still have a landline) to listen to where your phone is ringing in the house, or in the car, or in the backyard? I hope I’m not the only one. That would make me feel bad and exchange my smartphone for, say, my old Blackberry, which I sold on eBay a couple years ago.


About this Author

Annette Kurman

A native of Philadelphia with baccalaureate degrees in journalism, nursing, as well as an MBA from now defunct Daniel Webster College, Nashua, her endeavors in various roles and industries — as well a very supportive husband — once again bring her to the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”