I liked my iPhone 8 but after a mere three years, it was time for an upgrade. In tech speak, three years equals a lifetime. Remarkably, the pale pink Otterbox protector emerged unscathed through all the daily abuse and heavy pandemic wear and tear; even the screen survived without a crack or a chip. My ‘8’ still performed its duties well–my daily games of Wordle, Worldle, Globle, and Quordle; email alerts; headlines from the New York Times and the Boston Globe; and all those dizzying, breaking news updates. The gadget, with all of my personal and business emails synced and a steady flow of text messages, kept me apprised of everyone’s needs. Its aging battery drained quickly, but I saw that flaw as a positive; the time it spent charging was time it was out of my hands. I embraced the charging inconvenience’s hidden benefit–a few tech-free hours to attend to other matters, like my ongoing Swedish death cleaning and the most recent edit of my memoir.
I thought my ‘8’ and I would enjoy a long future together, even if the glaring “button” on its face screamed “old person with ancient technology.” I didn’t know the button was a thing until the first time someone sneered, “Oh, your phone has a “button.” I didn’t realize I was opening myself up to tech shaming. In the eyes of Millennials, GenZers, GenXers, and the rest, I owned the iPhone version of a flip phone. Still, I hung in, proudly tapping my screen, one finger at a time, like all good Boomers. I’m too old to care about something so inconsequential as a fancy phone or a clever typing form but it was clear–my phone and I were becoming obsolete in tandem.
The final nail in the coffin of my 8 was struck by the tech expert on my favorite local radio show (yes, I’m old. I listen to the radio) who recently explained that the iPhone 8 would not update after the spring of 2023. Without updates, all manner of disasters would follow me and any online exploits. I have a healthy fear of hackers and spam, and all those other things I know little about. I had no choice but to part ways with my still-pristine phone, no matter how immune I was to the side-eye glances of tech shamers around me.
I began my phone purchase research. My previous iPhone ownership journey progressed from the 4 to the 6, and eventually to the 8. But I was a fool. In 2019, I should have made the enormous leap from the 6 to the then recently released 11. Instead, I chose the 8. Planned obsolescence bit me on my cheap butt. I had five good years with my 6 but only three with my 8. I had learned my lesson. This time around, I was choosing a newer model, something that might not be too old too soon.
After a serious case of sticker shock and dealing with the frustrations of a non-user-friendly Verizon website, I handed the process over to my son who completed the transaction. I had hoped he would know a trick to pare down the price but there was no way to escape the fees and the installment plan, that is, short of plunking down a hefty sum upfront in addition to the privilege of paying Verizon a monthly fee to access their service.
My new pink iPhone 13 arrived today and it’s lovely. So far, the learning curve isn’t too steep and I almost don’t miss the button below the screen. Everything seems the same, except now I have to log in to everything again. Now if I could only remember my passwords…
My 13 proved that I was moving forward technologically but, in my defense, it wasn’t my first foray into tech progress. For the last year, I have basked in the glow of shedding our house landline, a move I made because I was tired of hearing “Oh, you still have a landline,” followed by a pitying chuckle. No landline combined with my new phone insured I was out of the woods of tech shaming for good but I was wrong. My apparently deep-seated shortcomings were outed by the click of my Volkswagen’s jackknifing key, leading someone to ask, “What year is this car?” The familiar feeling of being put on the spot, the shame, and the further proof that I am a fossil flooded over me. I realized I may never find myself totally caught up to the latest technology. But in my defense, I’ve owned those cars that start with the push of a button, that park themselves, and whose trunks open with a sweep of my leg under the bumper. I never used some of the technology, relying on my parallel parking skills to take care of business and pushing the release button on the hatch. With my latest car purchase, I’ve gone backward, like a technological Benjamin Button, and aside from the shaming, it was never a problem.
I fear being technologically out of touch is only the tip of the “out of touch” iceberg to surface in the next few years. Many tech advances don’t matter to me; I have learned over a long life that things like having the coolest technology don’t really matter at all. For now, I’m happy to be the old lady with a car key in one hand and the phone without a button in the other. I consider those moves progress. Like Benjamin Button, baby steps might be my future.