Being disconnected has its advantages

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Technology is supposed to make life easier but sometimes it feels like it’s just making it more complicated.

We’re all so connected now that it’s hard to shut off: our cellphones mean we get calls anywhere and any time, and social media means our every movement can become public knowledge.

I’m still no big fan of cellphones but can appreciate the usefulness of the wee beasties. However, one of the things I have appreciated most about our little whitebaiting hut on the Mataura River was the dodgy cellphone reception (and associated peace and tranquillity) so I’m a bit unimpressed that it appears to have improved considerably this past season.

And while our swanky new phones can do everything from take calls to clean the oven (I wish), I don’t really think we buy them for their usefulness.

No, we all tend to be most excited by their slightly more frivolous features: a built-in spirit level so I can check my picnic table is appropriately straight (don’t want my wine sliding off now, do I?), song identifier apps, and let’s not forget the ringtones. Oh, how we love our ringtones.

I have them set for two specific people: the Darth Vader theme music from Star Wars for my boss (sorry Fred) and something suitably inappropriate for my hubby but, aside from those, my phone now simply rings. Like a phone.

There’s no backing-up-vehicle beeping noises, no latest hit songs, no oh-so- funny little ditty. It just rings. Like a phone.

I have friends with a different ringtone for nearly everyone on their contacts list and can’t help wondering if they need to carry a list with them to cross-reference who it is. They still look at the screen before they answer the phone anyway so I’m not sure I see the point in all the customisation.

Besides, when my phone rings, I know straight away it’s mine: I seem to be the only one with a phone that sounds like a phone! Did I mention that it just rings? Like a phone

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