If you’ve been following my interminable complaining on Twitter you’ll know that my HTC Desire-Z gave up the ghost last week. Again. For the third time in just over a year. And I’m not surprised, really. The bastard child of a sleek Desire and some late-90s brickish slide phone, its clunky, cumbersome aesthetic deemed it not long for this world. A genetic experiment gone horribly wrong, if you will.
Nonetheless, I had grown accustomed to it. Perhaps I even loved it, in a way. The way you might love a kitten with half a face, for example. So it was with mixed reaction that this morning, after being summoned via text, I took myself off to my local Vodafone store and was told that it couldn’t be fixed. That there were no other handsets left. That I would have to accept a similar replacement instead.
On one hand, my inclination to have a good old complain about this was strong. What would my father say to this, I wondered, recalling the many times I’d seen him reduce sales assistants to nervous wrecks after calmly but firmly reiterating his displeasure at whatever clusterfuck of incompetence they’d had the misfortune of revealing to him. I am bred to resist cretinism, you see, and really, this fiasco with my phone just isn’t on. Plus I fear change. For one reason or another I had to switch my browser from Firefox to Chrome earlier this week and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it. However will I cope with a completely new phone?
Yet deep down I knew it was time to let go of the brick, so now I am in possession of a swish new Samsung. It has all the requisite bells and whistles, and demands the average 700 hours set-up time (remember when the hardest part of setting up a new phone was choosing a ringtone?). This of course involves me remembering all kinds of passwords and log-in details which I can’t even get from my laptop because sodding Chrome has eaten everything. But it’s OKAY. I am prepared to embrace this crap because I hope it will be the last time I have to do so before I upgrade properly – and I imagine by then changing your phone will involve simply plugging something into your eyes.
HOWEVER, what I absolutely cannot get on board with – what is guaranteed to reduce me to a electrified ball of sobbing frustration – is a touchscreen keypad. I’ve made no secret of this in the past and now that I have no choice but to endure this hateful technology on a daily basis, I am legally allowed to be more vociferous on the matter.
I don’t have particularly fat fingers, rather I actually have freakishly childlike hands. And I have a well-developed human brain with the capacity to understand basic processes and systems, so it’s not like I’m mashing wildly at the screen, grunting incomprehensibly in bewilderment as I try to type my own name so that I may simply access my emails.
Actually, that’s exactly what it’s like. It took me nearly five attempts to type my email address into my phone earlier, and I only succeeded in doing so after I’d exhausted every possible variation of ‘Racgek Eblamf’ and ‘Taxul Emfkans’ a Qwerty keyboard can afford.
A quick text becomes a laborious mission in pursuit of accuracy. Relaying the words ‘See you at 7’ is an exercise in both physical and emotional control. How many times can I flip through symbol screens and caps lock buttons before I give up and hurl the device across the room screaming ‘WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?’ Four times, apparently.
And yet, what is the alternative? In response to my bleating complaints sent out to the ether of Twitter, Himself replied: ‘No-one likes touchscreens, but we put up with them. Same as traffic, bills and politicians.”
We put up with all those things because of the tenuous notion that somehow, they underscore the basic principles of life in a modern age. But as I sit here, shrieking at this small man-made device, scratching my head and jabbing at it erratically, I’m not so sure that the idea that touchscreen keypads, as a pinnacle of life as we know it, sits well with me.