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Giving in to new technology

Published March 01. 2014 09:00AM

Here's a snippet from real life that illustrates changing values.

In New York, a man was robbed by a gunman who demanded his cell phone. The guy handed it to him.

But after the gunman saw it was one of those old slider models from years ago the robber didn't want it. He handed it back to the guy.

My daughter took delight in sending me the article because I had the exact same cell phone. I've had it for a lot of years, much to my family's dismay.

They keep insisting that I "upgrade."

I don't get compelling reasons when I ask why.

My young grandkids insisted they would send me text messages and photos if I had a phone that could do that.

"I have email and you never send me email," I responded.

"Nonna, NO ONE emails any more," laughed my 13-year-old granddaughter.

My daughters stay in close contact each day by texting each other. They tell me I won't miss out on moments they want to share if I get a phone that can text.

I respond by saying I can stay in touch each day through an old-fashioned telephone, something they now call a landline.

When my older daughter came to Florida to visit, I pulled out my cell phone to make a call. She doubled over in laughter when she saw the phone.

"You've never been the type to shy away from new technology. What's with your refusal to get a smart phone?" she asked.

Well, in my case, it's my desire to cling to the old-fashioned value of thrift. I work hard to keep my monthly costs under control. Buying a cell phone is one thing. But paying those steep charges for a two-year monthly contract doesn't square with my idea of thrift.

I believe it's a financial trap to keep buying new products then switch to better models when new ones come out.

People complain they can't keep up with their bills the way they used to. But they fail to realize one small part of the reason is paying for new technology and new services.

Cable TV is at least three times more expensive now because we have live streaming and other services we never had.

Even buying a TV has escalated in costs because we now expect so much more.

Here's another true life story.

Our church has a wonderful Saint Vincent DePaul Society that helps the poor. We have an office where poor people can come in and have their needs met. Usually that means food, clothing or a few pieces of furniture.

One day a client came in and said she didn't have a TV. Could they supply her with one?

The volunteer worker took the woman to a shelf where the donated TVs were stored. She picked the one she wanted.

The following week she brought it back.

"What's wrong?" asked the volunteer. "Doesn't it work?"

The woman said it worked but it wasn't what she wanted. "I want a flat screen TV and I want one bigger than this old-fashioned one," she said.

I'm so happy I wasn't manning the volunteer desk that day because I would have had a hard time not saying, "Are you kidding me?"

Instead, the volunteer just took her once again to the donated TVs and showed her there weren't any big, flat-screen models.

The woman was miffed but had to leave with the one she was first given.

Talk about heightened expectations.

We have to have the latest car, the latest gadgets, whether we can afford them or not.

At Christmas, my daughters said the family should buy me a new cell phone. I refused the offer.

Right before Christmas, my cell phone carrier had a sale. I could get a nifty new Smart phone, complete with Siri, for 86 cents.

I went to inquire about total costs for a new plan and stood there trying to determine if I could afford it. "What? You don't think you can afford 86 cents?" asked the incredulous clerk. I told her it was the monthly costs that bothered me. When I learned contract prices had fallen to a point where I could justify having a new phone, I bought the Smartphone that was on special.

Much to my astonishment, as I waited to complete the transaction, two other people came to the desk to trade in their "old" phone for a new one. Their "old phone" was the exact model I just upgraded to.

"See - there are much newer models out now," said one woman who warned me I wasn't making a good choice.

"You'll be back wanting a better model," the sales clerk said. No way!

At first, I couldn't use any of the features on the phone. My daughters are trying to help me navigate to the next century.

I must admit when I went into the rehab facility I was so grateful to have the phone. Since there were no phones in the rooms, it was the only way to keep in touch with friends and family.

I resisted texting because I have a hard time using those tiny keys. But now that I'm doing it, I have to admit it's fun to carry on a short "conversation" with both daughters at one time.

OK, I have to admit it. Sometimes you have to break down and buy that new technology. I guess once every ten years is not that bad.

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