By Ian Robinson
By Ian Robinson
I’ve always landed on the practical, rather than frivolous, side of things.
Now, I make no claim to being a serious man—just recently I played a 25-minute game of peekabo, hiding behind a napkin with a very cheerful two-year-old sitting across the room in a crowded restaurant.
But I’m still the guy carries an iPhone so he can make phone calls, not so he can play Angry Birds.
I’m interactive…it’s only I like to interact with something with a pulse and a smile.
I do appreciate constant internet access, though.
When I was coming up, I saw a bunch of bar fights that began over disagreements concerning sports statistics.
Today, a little cyber-mosey over to Google settles it and I no longer find myself having to jump away from the bar and the blood spatter while morons practice non-consensual, amateur dentistry with their fists.
Now all the bar fights I see start over something sensible.
In terms of tech, though, I’m doing pretty good for a man of my years.
Not like my wife and her sister.
You ever see the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey? (It’s a SF flick made back in the days that 2001 was the distant future instead of the distant past.)
It opens with this trippy scene of some kind of high-tech black monolith on Earth and there’s a bunch of monkeys gathered around it hooting and looking confused.
Smart phones are the monolith.
My wife and my sister?
Well. You decide.
True story: I get a phone call at home…on a landline…from my sister-in-law.
She was informing me that she had received an e-mail from her sister.
There was a pause. On my side.
I guess it went on a long time, because she said, “Are you still there?”
“Well, will you tell her?”
“Tell her what?”
“That I got her e-mail?”
“Why would I do that?”
“So she’ll know.”
“How could she know that?”
“Cause if your email had not been received, it would have bounced back to her browser with a message that it was undeliverable.”
“But would it tell her that I read it?”
“So tell her.”
“You tell her.”
I took a deep sigh. Counted to 10. Extended the count to 15.
I’ve been married long enough I know you do not endear yourself to your wife by screaming vile and disgusting obscenities at your sister-in-law, questioning her intelligence, pedigree and very humanity.
But it had not seemed to occur to my sister-in-law, on any level, that telephoning negated the need for e-mail.
Or that e-mailing negated the need for a phone call.
And it’s not like she spent her entire adult life, say, catering to the needs of the elderly in a senior citizens home or living with the Amish.
She was a high school teacher…which means she was exposed to cutting-edge tech every working day because she was confiscating it from her students so she could keep their attention long enough to teach them how to blow into a tuba.
Not to mention the fact that as an older school teacher she was sharing a staff room with 23-year-old teachers who also had iPhones and Nokia Luminas permastuck to the palms of their hands.
“Are you still there?”
“Yes,” I said. “I am still here. You received her e-mail, correct?”
“You read it on your home computer?”
“Are you home?”
I had to count to 30 this time.
“Why don’t you go to your computer and reply to her e-mail. There’s a little icon you click on. It’s probably labelled, ‘Reply.’ You could write: ‘Just read your e-mail.’ And if you had thoughts concerning the e-mail, you could then relay them to her.”
“But how would I know she got my e-mail?”
Another 10 count.
“Because if it didn’t go through, you’d get a message in your e-mail inbox informing you your email wasn’t delivered.”
“Look,” she said, “it’s just easier if you phone her and tell her I called.”
“Why don’t you phone her and cut e-mail out of the process entirely.”
“I don’t want to bother her when she’s at work.”
I didn’t even hang up. I put the phone down on the arm of my chair. I walked out the back door.
When the police turned up half an hour later to investigate reports of a man screaming obscenities at the sky in a back yard, I feigned innocence.
“Sorry officers. I was listening to my iPod with my earphones on. Black Sabbath. I wouldn’t have heard anything even if a plane had crashed in front of my house.”
I didn’t bother to tell my wife her sister called.
Let them figure it out.â€‹