Phone Alone

Something Chris and I are at a disagreement on recently: whether or not Kari should have an iPhone. I don’t want to subscribe to parent peer pressure and I don’t want to lose my 9 year-old to some device.

Personally, I love it when my phone dies. There is an expectation people now have with the mainstreaming of smart phones: constant, instant contact. People feel they should be able to contact you whenever (no kidding, I’ve gotten calls at 12:30 am about surrendering a dog to the Rescue) and wherever (call, text, tweet, fb, etc.) and if they cannot, well, something seriously tragic must have happened.

Like any good academic, I agree and disagree with this story. I do agree that the principal should have taken a more open approach: kids are using this, talk to them about it, talk to them about the conversations had on these media, and counselors are available for discussions if your student desires.

What I don’t like is students so young using technology so frequently. I see so many people on campus walking together, but on their phones. I see people at lunch together, but on their phones. I see people driving AND on their phones!

Kari’s school district has a BYOD policy. This being:

Students in (omitted) schools have the opportunity to bring their own electronic devices into the classroom to support their learning.  The district has listened to students and their parents who shared that they would prefer students to use their own personal technology to assist with learning.

This is all wonderful and fine if students simply use their devices for the educational focus at the time, but, arguably, they don’t. Trust me, I have been in class with many students who would much rather shop J.Crew, play on Facebook, (insert distraction here) than pay attention.

Kari had an experience last year where the 2 other members of her group were making silly videos on their phones instead of doing group work. Kari was mad she got a poor grade on her assignment, and the teacher did not hear her concerns. Do devices enhance learning? Sure, but likely not for the learning outcomes intended for the day.

I’d much rather be real and present with the people in my life. Life is short. Sure, kids are on Instagram and the like, but what are they missing out on by casting their social net so wide? Cherish the people who are real and present in your life. Knowing tidbits about your 250 Facebook friends doesn’t mean you have 250 actual friends just as getting likes on your selfie doesn’t actually mean those people like you in real life.

No one’s life is as cool as it is online. “Killing it at doing the dishes,” or “Just saved $1.50 on shampoo! WINNING”, tweeted no one ever. We only share the most exciting moments in our lives or ones that might connect us socially to the masses. Tweet about the crazy long line at Starbucks? Yes. Instagram your supper? Totes. Post about your promotion? Of course! For many of my Facebook friends, I can recall if they have had a baby, moved to a new house, or gotten a promotion recently. That’s really it. I don’t really know them.

Maybe parents and schools should talk to their children about the social pressures that come with such contact, and how to handle such pressures. This is challenging as many adults don’t even have healthy device usage limits.

As for Kari and the phone, I still don’t think it’s time. The social pressures become ever-present with the adoption of social media and smart phones. I want her to feel freedom I hope she will appreciate later.

The People of the Internet are taking all your time

Something many of us have dealt with is distraction with electronic devices. This growing phenomenon sprouted with the advent of high-speed Internet, got worse with the smart phone, quickly slid further with tablets and Wi-Fi wherever you go!

With this great technology comes great responsibility, and great cost. We’re always connected, but with whom? Those “People of the Internet” as I call them in my house, or people on Facebook, Twitter, etc. who are on your device, but not present regularly in your physical life, what lasting enjoyment are they giving you?

I find it interesting to see people in stores walking next to each other, but on their phones, or people in cars and all the passengers are on their phones (sadly, even some drivers). Or the best, dinner out with friends, where dinner is somehow social with the people present, yet the diners are present only with the People of the Internet.  This activity has gotten so prevalent it has spawned a Phone Stack game – all phones are stacked on the table and whoever cannot resist picks up the tab. My question: what are we missing? Do the People of the Internet care farther than fleetingly if you comment on their blog, read their article or like their status?

To me, it’s interesting what an alternate reality the Internet, smart phones and tablets play in our culture today. It can quickly turn into a time suck. I remember when my family first got the Internet at home when I was fourteen. I found myself addicted to it and quickly decided that wasn’t a way to spend my time. I interacted with people online, sure, but what real, tangible benefit did those conversations give me in my real life?

My husband pointed out my last statement made it sound like I was trashing all of the interaction on the Internet, which is not what I meant here, so here is my edit: Much can be learned from the Internet, but I would like to wager many of us are not engaged on the Internet to that degree during much of our time spent on the Internet. Here is a favorite Clay Shirky quote of mine to illustrate such:

This linking together in turn lets us tap our cognitive surplus, the trillion hours a year of free time the educated population of the planet has to spend doing things they care about. In the 20th century, the bulk of that time was spent watching television, but our cognitive surplus is so enormous that diverting even a tiny fraction of time from consumption to participation can create enormous positive effects.

We are capable of so much more than we are doing – imbibe what makes you stronger and create and collaborate with others. The Internet has made such activities immeasurably easier to do, yet, it also brought time sucks like Facebook, some strands of Reddit, etc. to which I was above referring by my statement in question.

I would rather be present in the lives of those physically around me so as to not miss those all too fleeting moments that make up life. When with friends and family, I want to make them feel valued by me. I want to always feel connected to my husband in our time at home together. Now that I have Kari, it is even more imperative to make sure she feels appreciated, important and loved.

I am so glad I have been present for moments like these:

Crystal being silly
Dear friends getting married
The girls opening presents from Nana
Priceless Mother and Daughter moments
Serious Dancer

 

People are not moments in time that will be there when you get off the Internet. Time for them keeps moving on.

If you are still not convinced about putting down your device to be more present, please see what these NPR articles have to say:

For the Children’s Sake, Put Down That Phone

When Parents are Too Distracted

A Video Game Meant To Take Us Back To The Physical World

Coming Back Down to Self

I’ve been on somewhat of a hiatus since last December.  The Rescue just began taking off and demanding much of my free time.  Now that everything is in place, and I have an awesome team of volunteers working with me, I can breathe a little.  So, I decided to write an update.

Recently Chris and I had to reinforce the chicken pen, as we have had so many foxes in the area, and one even dug under the fencing to get a poor hen.  We lashed 36″ chicken wire all the way around the coop building and fencing to the ground, then put soil and grass seed over the top.  The worst part was burying the wire under the landscaping blocks around the kennel panels – those things are 28 pounds each!  Add in July heat (90 degrees + STL humidity), and we were pretty wiped out after the project.

Because of said foxes, my flock had been dwindling from 16 down to 8 with the last attack.  I bought 9 new pullets and was given 4 pullets by a friend.  So, I’m up to twenty-one now (6 Rhode Island Reds, 3 Buff Orpingtons, 3 Leghorns, 3 Black Australorps, 2 New Hampshires, 1 Barred Rock, 1 White Rock, 1 Black Star, and 1 Polish). Unfortunately, the girls can’t free range any longer, but they now have a 22′ x 30′ pen (we decided to expand from the 12′ x 20′ pen before renovating).

The garden had been doing well until July.  All of the squash family plants were taken over again this year by stink bugs.  I really need to work on an organic solution – I guess my concentration of Neem oil was too high again this year for the poor plants.  We did get some great cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes.  Some melon plants have survived too!  Just so sad we don’t get any great Connecticut pumpkins this year!

I have been sewing and crafting a little this summer (thank you cards for the Rescue, a few dresses for myself and Kari, painting and tie-dying shirts, making some new jewelry pieces, and knot blankets as a fundraiser).  I enjoy making my own things, as I think it is so fun to have a piece no one else in the world has…and to be able to make it your own!

The Rescue is going very well – so far, we have rescued over 275 pets!  We have adoption events several times each month, but by far, the Internet is the heavy hitter for adoptions!

After much flip flopping, I decided to make the jump to get the iPhone 4 from my 3G.  Although I pre-ordered mine, I stood in line for 6.5 hours.  And, yes, next time I am going to have it shipped. Turns out, I broke even with the upgrade as I sold my still new looking 3G on ebay.

Then, now that my computer demands have changed (video/design), I’ve become more taxing on a computer’s get-up-and-go, so I (after again much flip-flopping) sold my black Macbook and bought a new iMac.  I had to calculate a method of making the upgrade financially responsible, then I was more comfortable with it (buying on tax free weekend, selling my computer first).  And then, when the new iMacs were announced, I was all on board!  I went Friday early so I could be sure to get my iMac.  Friday also was the first time in my line waiting history that Chris (and Kari) actually waited in line with me!  Kari was the line’s comic relief.

Help Find Jeff’s Phone!

Jeff's Phone is in Arnold, MO

My friend Jeff went to breakfast at Uncle Bill’s in St. Louis this morning and left his iPhone on his table.  Someone picked it up and took it home!  It is somewhere in the above circle thanks to Mobile Me.  PLEASE repost, tweet or update your status message with a link to my blog post.  With as many friends as I have in this region, I’d hope we could track this phone down!

myPhone

Tuesday night was a pretty good night. I picked up my iPhone. So far it is okay. Sure it is a cool little gadget, but mine has frozen several times in the past 48 hours. I know this ratio of freezes to hours is skewed considering I am doing some pretty heavy setup, but it is nonetheless frustrating. Also, the wordpress app does not swivel, so I can’t type with both hands.

The Apple of my Phone

Isight
Image from axb500 - please click to visit his Flickr page

Today was a great day.  I was feeling under the weather for the past week, and increasingly so today, so I stayed home and caught some sleep.  I also have a huge cold sore on my upper lip, which now looks like I just got a horrible collagen treatment.  But today was a great day.  Why?  I just received some wonderful customer service from a worldwide company when I thought, and always exclaim, customer service is dead.

I usually would omit the company’s name; however, it’s a bit obvious where I went once you know which phone I got…so, I called the AT&T store in my town on Tuesday regarding the iPhone and how to buy one.  The gent on the phone said I could pay with either cash, credit card, or gift card.  I told him I would probably be in the next day.  I sold my iPod Touch last night for $200.  The person purchasing it gave me cash.  Instead of driving across town (10 miles) to the credit union to deposit the cash, I just figured I could take the cash to the store and get my phone.  Since the store always closes before I get home from work, and Kari was begging to go to the library, I figured we could run out for 30 minutes.  Today, I waited in line behind the customers already there.  Both of the people had escalated situations, so Kari and I waited patiently for about 20 minutes.  I get up to the counter and the gent starts to put in my order for my 8 gig iPhone.  Cash not an option.  So, he sells me two $100 gift cards.  Enters the order again.  Swipes the first gift card.  The software program will not let him change the card amount to $100.  It keeps populating the $212.08.  He closes the software and restarts it.  Tries it again.  Nada.  Same thing.  The salesman calls the manager over and several other salesmen.  The salesman explains to me that the gift cards will work in the store to buy an iPhone, but not on a presale.  It only allows for one method of payment.  They then see if they have any in stock.  They went back and found one, a 16 gig.  It was an order that had been there for 5 days and their policy is after 7 days, they can be sold.  They were going to give me the 16 gig for all of my trouble, but they called the guy and he said he’d be up later in the evening to pick it up.  They then checked other stores.  Nada.  Then they suggest to void the gift card transaction, I get my cash back and go to the credit union to deposit it, then come back.  I said that was fine.  They then pull out manuals and consult the help desk.  The gift card transaction cannot be voided.  Kari’s getting antsy as it is going on an hour of being in the store.  The manager gives her a display Blackberry to play with.  She’s delighted and begins “calling” Papa and Grandma on her new red hotness.  The saleman and the manager go in the back and call the Regional Sales Manager (big boss man over the region, I’m told).  He told them to see if it would be alright to apply the gift cards to my account (we’re current cellular customers), for me to pay for the iPhone on my credit card, give me the next 8 gig iPhone that comes in the store, any headset, car charger and case I wanted in the store.  I was surprised by this and said that would be fine.  I told the salesman that I had no idea which case, headset or charger to get as I hadn’t really researched it.  The salesman in training said he’d hook me up.  The salesman said, “He did say any headset, charger and case.”  So, once the saleman in training came back to the counter, he had a three pack of iPhone skins, a namebrand car charger, and a Jawbone headset.  He told me these things were top of the line, especially the headset.  Sure enough.  I looked at the headset online when I got home, after an hour and a half in the store.  Not bad, salesman in training.  Not bad at all AT&T for taking care of business – thank you.

Brrrrrring. Phone.

Phone - Brrrring

It’s time to start shopping for a new phone. My phone isn’t so terribly old, but it shuts off whenever something happens (i.e. a phone call or text comes in) regardless of the battery level. The iPhone 3G comes out in 10 days; however, I’m cheap when it comes to initial purchase price. I’m even cheaper about usage fees. Sure, it would be fun to have, but I’m not quite sure how I can justify $30 per month on top of the initial purchase price. Besides, I’d have to sell my iPod Touch.

Out of sheer curiosity, I called the AT&T store by my house. Many people in our neighborhood are conservative about money for the most part, so I thought, no problem getting one. First, the stores are opening at 8 a.m. on the day of the launch and second, the sales rep told me they sold out of the iPhones within 45 minutes last year. Yep. The iPhone is out.

My husband is going to stand in line with one of his friends for an iPhone. They were thinking about arriving around midnight. I advised him that he might consider going right after dinner on the 10th, if not earlier. I’m an experienced line person (Nintendo Wii, Black Friday, after Christmas sales), so I know the ropes.

So, what on Earth should I get in this world of expensive phones or cheap ones that break within days? Perhaps I’ll just go back to the old tin can standby or simply go phone-less.