So I finally caved in and bought a new cell phone. Hardly an exciting or life-altering moment, I know, but you have to understand: I can’t stand cell phones. Yet, I know I need one, so I keep trying to skate by with the simplest phone I can find. I don’t need a phone that takes pictures and video, or plays music, accesses the internet, has GPS capability, or converts into a Transformer-like robot with fist-fighting action (. . . er, though that actually would be pretty cool). All I really need is your basic phone with a decent template for my contacts, so I can store several numbers under each name. The rest is all fancy bells and whistles and waaaay too much phone for me. So I had a dopey, simple, dumb guy phone. And I was happy with it.
And then our daughter turned twelve.
For Madi’s Big One-Two, Barb and I decided to get her a cell phone of her very own. It was an easier decision than we thought; not only has Madi shown herself to be incredibly responsible (she’s taken good care of her iPod nano for two years, for example), but we’ve arrived at the point in her life where her calendar of activities is so much easier for all of us to manage if we know we can always reach each other at any time.
We took her to the Verizon store to let her choose her own phone, and she decided on a Verizon Alias, a phone with way too many features, most of which require the dexterity of a 12-year-old to operate properly. To our 12-year-old, however, the most important feature is its microscopic-sized, full QWERTY keyboard.
The texting began. Lots of it. Tons of it. All written in that abbreviated language that, remarkably, still accurately conveys meaning and intent. My phone beeped regularly with short messages informing me of her schedule, her whereabouts, her mood, her menu, and all usually in ten letters or less.
I tried my best to respond on my archaic phone, but it was a losing battle. Understand, I’m terrible at texting to begin with. First of all, it’s almost impossible for me to text with a standard telephone keypad — I’m forever passing the letter I need, then have to circle around again for it, at which point I usually pass it again — and secondly, I don’t like to abbreviate or intentionally misspell words. I know, I know — completely anal, but it’s the way I’m wired. I’ll take the extra keystrokes to spell out “great!” rather than simply write “GR8!” which makes me an irritatingly slow texter. So in the time it takes for me to slowly spell out “Please meet me at the front door of the recreation center,” my daughter has already written 237 messages to friends across the United States, as well as to several astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle.
So I finally caved in and bought a new cell phone. It takes pictures and video, has GPS capability and internet access, plays music, and converts, I’m told, into a Shogun Warrior. But I wouldn’t know anything about any of that — all I care about is it also has a full QWERTY keyboard so I can much more quickly type out messages like “Move over and give me a bit more room on the couch,” and “Stop texting me while I’m driving.“
Texting is the bomb (as I’m sure the kids these days no longer say). You will become addicted. It was my favorite part of the short time I was required to carry a cell phone.
I guess it doesn’t matter since you got a qwerty, but predictive text is a fantastic feature. It makes it so you only have to press buttons once, and the phone compares your presses to a dictionary and guesses what word you’re entering. If it guesses wrong, you can cycle through to the next best guess, and if that doesn’t work, you can complete your word manually. Sounds intrusive but it’s actually awesome.