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The Writer's Life

Kicking and Screaming Into the 21st Century

My old phone, as taken by my new phone.

My old phone, as taken by my new phone.

How does it feel to be the last man on earth to give up his flip phone?
Listen, I would never have done it if the damn thing hadn’t stopped working.

So, how long did you have it?
Must have been eight years. When I got it, it was quite the new-fangled technology.

What made it so great? Like, what did it do?
It made phone calls. And it could text, if you didn’t mind pressing the “7” key four times to get an “S.”

Is that all?
Took photos too. Mostly of the inside of my pocket.

And it didn’t bother you that everyone else could check email, surf the web and get navigation help on their phones.
Like they say, you can’t miss what you never had. Besides, as a writer, I found it very conducive to writing. Nothing to distract me.

But didn’t you feel bad that everyone else on the planet had a smart phone? Didn’t it make you feel, well, dumb?
I heard the laughter. Every time I took it out people would point and stare, like I’d arrived in a time machine from the past. Got so bad I would sneak off to where no one could see me to use it. If I got a call—which was rare—I wouldn’t embarrass myself by answering in public. I’d wait until I got home to see who phoned.

So you decided to modernize.
Really had no choice. The people in the phone store took pity on me, though. They gave me a fancy carrying case for free, I guess to help make me feel welcome in the 21st century.

And do you?
Frankly, I feel liberated. I check my email every few minutes. There’s weather updates too. I never have to look out the window. I can play games on it as well. Of course I haven’t written a thing in a week…

What did you do with the old phone?
I’ve shipped it off to the Smithsonian.

What’s next for you?
The sky’s the limit. Might even sign up for cable TV.


About Joe Ponepinto

Co-publisher, with Kelly Davio, of Tahoma Literary Review. Author of "Curtain Calls," a featured Kirkus Review. Married to Dona. Dad to Henry, the coffee-drinkin' dog.


12 thoughts on “Kicking and Screaming Into the 21st Century

  1. Very funny. But I can top that Luddite tendency you describe: my roommate and I share a trac phone, and that’s it. It doesn’t text, take pictures, give weather updates, or do any of that fancy stuff. Of course, you have to be practically sitting on top of a cell tower to get reception, but one pays a certain price for making oneself important and inaccessible. Ha! ha! At least the most important “people” (like Henry) know how to get in touch with you….

    Posted by shadowoperator | March 15, 2014, 3:24 PM
    • Okay, you got me. I’ve never even heard of a trac phone. Looked it up on Google. And you even share it! Now that’s taking a stand.

      Posted by jpon | March 16, 2014, 2:58 AM
  2. Yeah, but I don’t even have a cell phone. Take that, 21st century.

    Posted by girl in the hat | March 15, 2014, 3:36 PM
  3. And I’m already bored with all the fancy things the new phone can do. Trust me, I’d much rather be unreachable most of the time. But my wife insists I be available anywhere, any time.

    Posted by jpon | March 16, 2014, 2:59 AM
  4. Love your humorous take on this, Joe. My husband got me a smartphone for Christmas 2012. I balked at first — why do I need to carry my email around with me? This is too much phone for me! So he advised me to start small. Learn something new every day, or every week, if I’d rather. So I took his advice, baby steps into the 21st century. I remember my hairdresser telling me it would change my life. How right she was.

    Posted by Gwen Stephens | March 16, 2014, 11:36 AM
    • It is nice to know I can get directions next time I take a wrong turn. I think the best part of having a smart phone is that I can take it out when I’m alone in public, and pretend I’m busy, like all the other people around me.

      Posted by jpon | March 16, 2014, 1:54 PM
  5. You haven’t written anything in a week. Of course you haven’t. The “smart” phone (and I’d love to shoot whoever named it that) is the device that keeps our brains in scramble mode. I swear I’ve never told myself to FOCUS more than I do now.

    Posted by Teri | March 16, 2014, 2:28 PM
    • So, so many distractions. I’m not a conspiracy guy, but it sure seems like the corporations want us all to just stare at stuff all day. Thinking people are anathema to them.

      Posted by jpon | March 16, 2014, 10:12 PM
  6. that flip phone had a good run, i must say. well, i guess congratulations are in order, but also a warning. I now don’t take my phone to lunch, so that I can actually think a thought of two while i eat. Have you seen the film HER? It gets into the smart phone issue in fascinating ways.

    Posted by Stephanie Barbé Hammer | March 16, 2014, 10:25 PM
    • The flip phone had a good run because I hardly ever used it. We’ll see how long this new one lasts. I’ve heard “Her” is a pretty interesting movie. Maybe I’ll see it, but first I want to see “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Any movie with a lobby boy has to be fun.

      Posted by jpon | March 17, 2014, 11:35 AM
  7. You are not alone … I have had my flip phone since 2001. It still works, but the batteries don’t charge too well anymore. I may be joining the ranks of the “smart” very soon. But why rush? Cheers. Lovetta

    Posted by Lovetta | March 18, 2014, 4:10 PM
  8. The little schoolboy.

    Posted by jpon | April 17, 2014, 1:42 PM

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