Into The 21st Century Kicking & Screaming

It was good. It looked good. It worked. It was dependable. You couldn’t drop it and break it. You could conveniently ignore it. It didn’t follow you everywhere. It was sturdy. It didn’t need to be replaced every six months.

What was the problem?

My daughter once told me, “Dad, you don’t have to worry about anyone breaking into your house: you have no technology worth stealing.”

Really, I’m not anti progress or anti anything, I just don’t get it.  I’m retired.  Well, more or less, and it seems lately like more less, than more.  But I don’t really want my life to be ruled by the phone or have people able to interrupt my life whenever they wish.  And I don’t want to walk down the street looking like I’m talking to myself.  I come from the age when if you saw someone walking down the street talking to the air, you crossed the street and walked on the other side.   And I don’t want to be rude, interrupting an actual conversation with a live person opposite me, by whipping out my cell phone and taking a call from someone else who felt free to interrupt my life because they happened to have my number, or have dialed me by mistake.

BUT … I’m tired of being the ONLY person on the plane who when it lands, and we are all standing like sardines in the aisle waiting for someone to … finally! … open the damn door and let us out … I’m tired of being the only person on the plane, pilots and crew included, not scrolling through my smart phone looking for messages.

I was lost in Wisconsin earlier this year, somewhere west of Milwaukee, east of Madison, surrounded by McMansions without a gas station in sight, not that a gas station would have anyone who could give directions … in English.  [Panama is not the only place in the world where you need to know Spanish to survive.]  I finally found a farmer on a tractor in a field and stopped to ask him directions.  He said, “Let me see your phone …”  Phone?  Who has a phone?  Oh, I didn’t have a “smart phone” … how smart is that?  Well the guy whipped out his smart phone and showed me where I was, where I wanted to go, and how to get there.  Hmmm.

I guess the worse part about not having a smart phone … really!!! … When did phones become “smart” and people stupid?? … The worse part of not having a smart phone is what it is doing to our relationship.  How can I talk to my wife?  How can we communicate without smart phones?  How can we sit at the breakfast table with our mouths full of Mini Wheats and communicate without texting to one another?

So … drum roll … we’ve broken down and been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century abandoning forever our flip top clam-shell phones.

It took three hours at Cable & Wireless, Panama’s major phone company, dubbed by locals “Cable & Worthless,” to do all the paperwork.  Nikki already had Mas Mobile the Cable & Wireless cell phone service, so she keeps her number.  I have had Movistar, the folks with the puke green color paint splashed all across the country, so for me to keep the same number would take a week of hassle, so I just got a new number, not that anyone calls me anyway.

So now I am connected … and fully traceable, as surely as if I had a computer chip embedded in my skull.  Not only Cable & Wireless, but the US NSA can now follow me around the world and listen into all my scintillating conversations and read all my increasingly lurid emails.  It’s always amazed me that all these people who are so paranoid about big government and big brother and who want to drop off the grid are so anxious to be connected and share their data and lives with everyone.

And, by the way, the cell phone penetration in Panama is 1.9 cell phones PER PERSON! Babies come out of the womb with cell phone in hand already texting, “Feed me!”



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