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Fading away

Guy Danaway waves goodbye

The media is awash today with reports and reviews of the new Apple Smartwatch and iPhone 6 – see here for a typical example on the website of THE GUARDIAN

As a senior citizen, I’ve long held the opinion that the relentless march of new technology is a reliable yardstick by which the descent of human beings into old age can be measured.

How so?

I believe the human brain reaches maturity at a certain age – don’t ask me what that is because it varies from person to person, but let’s say it is somewhere between 18 and 30 – and then plateaus for about 25 years. After that, the ability to absorb new things, whether they be novel concepts (however exciting), seemingly counter-intuitive ‘magic’ or just futuristically-shaped objects, gradually fades. The cause of this process is partly because they are difficult to for a mature brain to master and partly because the individual loses first the ability to understand them and then, eventually, to care any longer about being ‘up to date’.

In the case of smartphones, when first they emerged I jumped in and acquired a Blackberry.

Although I quite enjoyed the ability to phone, text and even email all from one hand-held device, looking back now I can see that the first seeds of my personal technological obsolescence were being sown even then. I deliberately opted for a device with a mini-keyboard on which I could type out my texts and emails … rather than going the whole hog and learning to tap the screen.

In those days, of course, going online via a hand-held device was in its infancy. The screen was small, accessing the internet was a bit hit and miss and – frankly – it was a facility that appealed more in the idea than in the execution.

The Blackberry also had a ‘Blackberry Messenger’ system, whereby it seemed you could contact other Blackberry users via some form of ‘intranet’, but I never mastered it and ultimately never used it. What was the point of it? I could text or email other users without the fag of having to remember another password, or (in my case) use the same password for yet another item which (exponentially, inevitably) increased the likelihood of some scumbag out there fraudulently accessing every personal piece of information including my bank account details and taking advantage of them.

When the Blackberry company hit a slump in fortune – outgunned by Apple and then other technology giants – and its devices became somewhat old-hat (because, of course, fashion is so important in the marketing of new technology), I bailed out. Not to move to an Apple iPhone, because everyone else was doing that, but back to a good, old-fashioned, simplistic mobile phone on which I could make calls, text and … increasingly less often … go on the web if I wished and/or send emails.

About a year ago, I became overdue for an upgrade. I did all the things one is supposed to do. For three months or more I bought copies of What Mobile?, T3 and Stuff – the standard new technology review magazines – and formed the considered view that an Android phone was the way to go. Apple had one operating system and everyone else used Android. The Samsung Galaxy was the latest fashionable gizmo of choice – everybody was buying one and telling me so.

HTCSo I picked the HTC One, an Android phone that wasn’t a Samsung Galaxy – I didn’t want to be one of the herd. Plus, the HTC One came top of both the ‘best all-round phone’ and ‘best value for money’ lists.

My HTC One is okay. I can make phone calls on it and I can send/receive texts on it. I can even take photographs with it. But by choice – not least in an effort to limit the costs – I have disabled its ‘mobile data’, emailing and internet access facilities. I don’t use them, don’t need them and indeed don’t want them. I go on my laptop or on an available PC to access and send my emails and/or to go online generally.

Looking back, I probably utilised no more than about 30% of what my much-loved Blackberry was technically capable of doing. With my recently-acquired HTC One – because, naturally, technology advances year by year, decade by decade, in a perpetual rush – I should estimate I take advantage of no more than 10% of its capability.

And, what’s more, I don’t care.

The fact is that when I had my bog-standard mobile phone (small, neat, light), I paid a basic monthly contractual rate of about £20. I’m now paying £35 per month-and-counting in order to make calls and text on a larger and okay, more impressive to look at, device which – both de facto and by inclination – I just don’t need.

What’s my next move, then?

When next I become eligible for an upgrade, I’m going back to a bog-standard mobile phone, that’s what.

Goodbye cruel word!

I’m stopping the carousel and getting off. I’ve reached my destination, thank you.

I’ve had enough of ‘trying to keep up with technology’ and am just going to relax and enjoy myself. I don’t need Twitter, Facebook and all that social networking stuff – all around me I see people who spend 6 to 8 hours a day ‘keeping in touch’ and I pity them.  I keep in touch by watching television …

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About Guy Danaway

Guy Danaway and his family live on the outskirts of Rugby. He is chairman of a small engineering company and has been a keen club cyclist for many years. He has edited Cycling Weekly since 1984 and is a regular contributor to the media on cycling issues. More Posts