Even at 24, I’m still dumbfounded by the iPhone

Earlier this month, I presented part of a session on social media to a group of (mostly) older folks at Paul Smith Library of Southern York County.

Many of the audience members were budding local authors. They had plenty of questions and plenty of confusion, and I have to admit — I felt a connection to them.

A few days earlier, I’d bought my first smartphone.

More specifically, I’d handed over a good chunk of my salary in exchange for an iPhone 5 and an ever-present anxiety that I now am going to lose, drop or otherwise break it.

(Much to the chagrin of the salesperson, I did not, apparently, drop quite enough of my salary. No, sir, I don’t want to buy your overpriced car charger or upgrade to the screen protector with a lifetime warranty or choose a protective case from your oh-so-very-large selection of 10.)

I’ve had two cellphones in the eight years since I turned 16. The first was a flip phone, and in 2004, it was pretty rockin’. It had a fancy background (in color!) with fish that appeared to be swimming across the screen.

I could text all my friends before politely handing my mom the car keys and asking ever so nicely for her to drive me places.

I could spend part of my treasured allowance to download a ringtone that sounded nothing like “Stairway to Heaven” and yet still impress that boy I liked who listened to Led Zeppelin because I, too, knew Led Zeppelin.

I was living the 16-year-old dream.

But as high school passed and smartphones became more popular in recent years, switching from a cellphone with functions I knew inside and out was terrifying.

I was a technology phobe.

And so I stayed with my Samsung flip phone for six years.

I dutifully signed on to the Verizon site to view any photos friends would text me, since my phone couldn’t receive them. I shrugged off comments from friends and strangers alike on my not-so-stylin’ choice.

In the end, I only upgraded after six years because my cellphone was so very old that no one I called could even hear me.

“WHERE ARE YOU?” I found myself yelling one afternoon as I tried to meet my aunt and cousin for a water polo tournament.

“AROUND WHAT PART OF THE SCHOOL?”

“WHERE SHOULD I PARK?”

“OK I’LL SEE YOU SOON, THEN!”

My second phone was a touchscreen with a flip-out keyboard, which took plenty of time to get comfortable with but eventually became second nature.

And now, the iPhone.

I had dabbled in iPhone play with my mom’s iPhone 4S, which she bought last Christmas — because yes, my mom bought an iPhone and learned to use it before I did.

But it was a never-ending lesson in embarrassment at being dumbfounded by a piece of technology that every other 24-year-old I knew could tap-tap-tap with their eyes closed.

At one point, as I tried to update a Facebook status on my mom’s iPhone and sell extra tickets to a football game we were attending, I backspaced again … and again … and again. As I finally completed the post, my thumb — which, really, folks, is not that large — accidentally tapped another key and erased the whole thing.

It was a one-sentence post.

It took me a full five minutes.

And it was gone — a terrible feeling.

So I understood the panicked faces of our audience this month as we talked about Facebook and Twitter and HootSuite and WordPress and Google+ and Pinterest.

I feel the same way when I look at my iPhone.


Sarah Chain is the York Daily Record/Sunday News books editor and a multiplatform journalist in the features department.

Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.

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2 Responses

  1. paul kuehnel says:

    There are plenty of smartphone options out there that you don’t have to hand over “a good chunk of my salary” and a two year contract. A Nexus 4 directly from Google is an excellent phone for $300, no contract and you can find plans on multiple carriers for as low as $30 a month without a contract and unlimited data (tmob). A $100 a month bill and a two year contract would terrify me more than the tech any smartphone. Another good option is ting.com.

  1. March 2, 2013

    [...] week, I wrote a column for the York Sunday News on being dumbfounded by my iPhone. Yep — even at 24, when most of my peers are checking in on FourSquare and looking up [...]

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