Friday, July 6, 2012

Touch Me Not

The world is divided into two kinds of people - those who love touchscreen phones and those who don't.

Naturally, having been a hopeless technophobe since as long back as I can remember, I belong to the second category. And life is really tough for people like us now, because 'Touch' phones just wont leave us alone...

Well, if you hate Touch phones so, just don't go near one, people would say.  I can only say that that's easier said than done. And I'll tell you why.

About two years ago, Sud gifted me a Micromax touch phone - promising the latest technology at mouth watering prices. Well, I don't know about watering, but I certainly remember foaming at the mouth, trying to use the touchscreen to text or make calls. The experience was a bit like trying to apply mascara with a rolling pin...  

NO more touch screen phones for me, I decided

And I switched back to my old phone - a Nokia Expressmusic, which allowed me to do ALL I ever wanted from a phone - to make/receive calls, send text msgs, and listen to music during my travel.  

Cut to the present - about two months ago. The Expressmusic is going to pieces (literally), and it is becoming increasingly difficult to call or sms by pressing the dirty grey exposed bits that I still valiantly keep calling a 'keypad'. I need to buy a new phone. Urgently.

So I go to the store and ask for a simple, regular, non-touch phone. Non-touch, I stress. The shop assistant looks at me with confusion - as if trying to determine whether I am an alien or just stark, raving mad. I'll never know what he decides - because mumbling something incoherent, he just vamooses from the scene. A hunt for him proves futile, and with a resigned air we start looking around on our own at the displayed models of 'Non-touch' phones. Well, when I say 'start looking around' it is a rather ambitious statement, because the search ends almost as soon as it starts. Simple, Non-touch, Un-smart phones have gone out of fashion, and out of the window of all major stores.

I feel utterly devastated... would I have to go for a touch phone after all?  I go back to the store after a week, mentally prepared to say 'yes' to Touch. This time, the shop assistant is more forthcoming. He waxes eloquent about the latest models of 'Smart' touchscreen phones, oblivious to the fact that each new 'App' which he explains only makes me cringe more. At one point of time, I think of asking him sarcastically if there is a phone with an app that would scratch my back when it feels all itchy in the morning... but then think better of it. He doesn't look bright enough to appreciate sarcasm - he would probably trot off to ask his superior if there is any model coming out with that feature...

Anyway, the quality of 'touch' on this one seems better than the Micromax. And the assistant assures me that I'll get used to it in no time. I am still unsure.

But then Sud talks me into it.... just as he always manages to do - starting exactly 24.5 years ago. :-|

And that is how I became the not-really-proud-but-definitely-apprehensive owner of a Touch phone for the second time over. It was a Nokia Lumia 710. It looked good and was not exorbitantly priced. And it had all the net based smart apps. I was starting to think I would enjoy this phone after all.

I was wrong. If a simple 'unsmart' touch phone is a diwali patakha, a 'smart' touch phone is a nuclear bomb - and one that could be detonated with one light, even accidental, 'touch'...

The first problem with the phone is its smart-ass autosuggest mechanism. Initially, you might be rather pleased that the phone is throwing up this long list of suggested alternate words to choose from while you are texting. But, you quickly realize, it is not so much 'smart' as 'too clever by half'. You realize that the phone surreptitiously slips in its own preferred word, even if you have not selected it. I still go red-faced thinking of the many times I have just barely escaped signing off a text as 'Sucks' instead of 'Suchi'!

And it's not just me. Give a thought to the predicament of this young couple we know - they fight, the girl goes off in a huff, and the fight carries on over sms. Some furious texting ensues. The girl is breathing fire when she gets a text calling her a 'libidinous cheap'... but then, when she is called a 'smart potassium', she realizes that it is not her hubby, but his 'smart' touchphone that is doing all the talking! :D

In this particular case the matter ended well, as the girl sees the funny side of it and dissolves into laughter at the inadvertently changed words. But it's not always so...

And oh yes. If smart phones are really so smart, why the hell can't they tell the difference between a person's fingers and ears/cheeks? In the middle of a raging argument with my Mom, or a tete-a-ete with a friend, or a rare call with Sud when he is somewhere down in the boondocks, I press my ear a wee bit to the oh-so-sensitive screen to hear better - and lo! I inadvertently press 'hold'... or 'mute'... or even 'end call'! The last, when it happens, plays absolute havoc with relationships - both sides end up aggrieved, thinking the other hung up in a huff!

It is said that the third world war is going to be over water. I disagree - I am absolutely certain it is going to be caused by touch phones.. Just imagine, some small but powerful developing nation announces its plans to build up a nuclear arsenal. The US Prez hears this, and texts the Secretary of State, "Call them NOW! Talk them out...!" And what might happen if he uses his 'smart' touchscreen phone to send the text? The Secretary of State gets this message, "Bomb them NOW! Take them out...!"

But there is good news too. My son, who has made losing and destroying phones into a fine art, has had to choose a new phone twice in the last 2 months. No no, that by itself is not the good news... the good news is that both times, he has decided on a simple, regular, non-touch phone. Which proves, without any doubt, that touch-o-phobia is not an age related disorder. So, touche, ye unkind folk, who maketh unkind remarks to me, like, "You are just too old for smartphones and touchscreen, dear!"

It's time, my fellow touch-o-phobes! To make ourselves heard and prove that we are human beings and not lemmings. Let those who want Touch have it, but let us at least have the option of passing up Touch for a Non-touch alternative which is not archaic in all other ways!

Are you listening... Nokia, Samsung, Sony et al...... ?


  1. Splits! absolutely one of the very best. anyway - as such I have been against touch phones always - and now - no way - not for me. Just for the record - unrelated - but important - I only talk you nto things which I kind of figure out you want me to talk you into :) And it is not 24.5 years it is 28 and till laptops touchphones, and facebooks do us apart.

  2. You only talk me into things I want you to talk me into... really??? You ARE a smart potassium, aren't you?? :D

  3. My sympathies are with you.... The cartoon of the touch- screen phone is really menacing (It's upon the valiant Sud to chop off the hand catching you.. and live happily ever after...)

  4. Thanks with LoL, excellent rendition of touch screen smart phone ruckus... hats off! And the cartoon is so appropriate... indicating the craziness/pull factor for each other - the touch screens and users (glued to them).

    i understand the fatigue, as i used a touch screen during 2008-10 (and have shifted away). Now am quite happy using a simple key based phone - it quite serves the purpose of communication :-). However, i miss the scope of (properly) scavenging the Internet. :-(


    1. Great interpretation of the cartoon, Sabyasachi - inspite of all the problems recounted, there IS an element of 'pull'... from both sides! :)

  5. Haha!
    I too can relate with that alien feeling of not having touch phone!! People look upon you as luddite.

  6. Totally with you there. Although sometimes it can make you happy like when someone wrote just kidding you and it came as kissing you and made me happy till the errata message arrived