Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

Smartphones: blessing or curse?

Electicity pylons along the River Aare

One day my son paid us a visit.

“Look dad, I have got a new phone.” Of course, my son would not say “look mum” in this case, as mum was still happy with her hand-me-down mobile phone, the third in a row of hand-me-downs from dad.

“I thought you had an iPhone” answered dad.

“No, not any more, I did not like the typing pad. I now have an Android.”

Listening to this conversation I had to look at my son carefully. No, he did not resemble ET. He had an Android telephone. My son continued.

“Hey dad, have you seen this app, it’s free?”

I was now completely lost. They were speaking a foreign language which I had not yet learnt. They have apps and androids. Their telephones did not ring any more, or play a simple tune, they spoke, they vibrated, they hummed and buzzed. They were alive.

I was on a learning curve at the time, although I did not dare to intervene in this hyper-technical conversation between two communication experts. I decided to wait for a quiet moment with dad or son to ask my silly questions.

In the meanwhile I spared a few thoughts for the senior members of the human society. How do they find their way in this new system? I do not think they do, unless they have telecommunication experts in the family, as I do. Mr. Swiss is quite good at explaining, he knows just how it all works. Unfortunately he is more interested in showing me what he knows than how it all works. He explains it all with the mobile in his hand at a distance (I am not allowed to touch it) and this all in our house language of Swiss German. I suppose it is called distance learning.

Now and again I travel into town by our local train. On the return journey from the main station, I might have to wait, so I take a seat. The seat is often shared with members of the younger generation, teenagers taking the train home after school. In my younger years we would have a conversation talking about newest fashions or music. This is a thing of the past. A few of these younger commuters are sort of swaying to the music they hear through the ear plug attached to their cell phone. Those not listening are looking at their smartphone. Some are flicking over pages from Internet showing a selection of newest fashion models, perhaps they have logged into their Facebook side, or perhaps they are talking with a colleague per telephone, of course with live visual communication.

One day, my hand-me-down normal average mobile telephone was broken. It was not working. “No problem” said Mr. Swiss and the worse happened, he had bought a new iPhone of the newer generation and gave me is older iPhone.

“Ah” I said.

“You can have it, it is quite easy to operate. Look”. I did not dare to interrupt and after about half an hour he found I now knew how it worked. To be quite honest, I found it quite a good idea. I saw myself waiting for the train and doing what the others did. I now belonged; I was no longer an outsider. I could play with my touch screen, even surf and write messages. Of course, I had to learn all this.

It was then that I received an e-mail from the Swiss Telecommunications congratulating me on my new phone (they already knew?) and telling me that I would have to pay more for this super modern new service. I could discuss with them online, or pay a visit to their local shop. Mr. Swiss told me it would cost more, although he had the minimum. He was not the surfer type with the phone. He actually used it to call people and receive calls.

The next day armed with my new hand-me-down super-duper iPhone (type 3) I paid a visit to the office in town. After a conversation with the young man I decided why be satisfied with a hand-me-down type 3, when for an all-inclusive price I could have it all. Free local telephone calls, free surfing and tons of apps – no problem. I now belonged, I was in the smartphone telecommunications network. Naturally a type 3 iPhone was no longer what I wanted, so I organised the type 4. A type 5 is now available, but I do not like the shape, so at the moment I remain with type 4.

I returned home and Mr. Swiss asked how it went.

“You can have your hand-me-down type 3, I now have a type 4.”

There were a few moments of speechlessness and then the technical questions began. Of course my capacity for loading photos was not so much as Mr. Swiss I did not even think of asking at the shop, but no problem. I have all my photos in Flickr. Flickr have an app, just upload it onto the phone. I do not take so many photos with my phone, as I always take my camera when I go anywhere.

Last week-end my son visited again with another new Android phone. Each time I see him he has a new phone. Now I could join in the conversation, although I actually started the conversation.

“What is the difference between the Android and the iPhone” was my super intelligent question. Before Mr. Swiss could begin to answer, my son filled me in on the details. It is a matter of using iTunes/Apple. My son uses Google on his Android. It seems I could import all my contacts from Facebook into an Android: with Apple that it not possible. I have approximately 900 contacts in Facebook and only really know only about 10% personally. I decided this would not be an advantage. After further discussion, I remain with my iPhone 4.

So, have you noticed? I can now discuss like all the in people that have a smartphone. In the meanwhile I have got myself a mini iPad. I have become an iPerson. I even now play online games on my iPhone while waiting for the local train. I belong.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

12 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

  1. I was a dinosaur regarding my Mobile Phone. It was so big and heavy my children used to call it ‘The brick’. I have now moved onto an all singing ,all dancing one and now I have upgraded to an iPad. Many moons ago I worked in Switzerland. I worked in the Pestalozzi Village but at first, I worked in a Hotel-Pension in Interlaken Unterseen. I helped out occasionally in the dining room. One day I was speaking Swiss German to the other staff and then spoke to one of the English guests. They looked at me and then asked me when I had been to England as my English was so good and how long had I been learning it? I replied 18 years! ‘By the way, my birthday is on the 4th April as well except I’m quite a few years older. Love your ideas.


    • I am quite at home in the Bernese overland and have spent many holidays there, Adelboden, Grindelwald or Gstaad. I know Interlaken quite well an also Unterseen. They have quite a nice lido there on the shores of the lake. I have been living in Switzerland now for 46 years, my husband is Swiss. He can speak quite good english, but our family language is Swiss German (Kanton Solothurn). I think if it was not for my husband and son I would still have my original brick as well.


      • I fell in love with a Swiss . His name was Rolf Hugli but it wasn’t to be. I often wonder how all the friends I made whilst living there , are doing. My husband, children and I passed through Switzerland on the way to Lido de Jessolo and we always planned to visit Switzerland. I remember the lido. Memories. Good memories.


    • I am an iPerson by accident really. I don’t even know my FB friends, most of them. At one time I was a gamer – Zynga and all that jazz. Everyone wanted to be my friend so I said yes. Most of them I couldn’t even pronounce their names.


  2. Pingback: Is the Internet Ruining Human Interaction? | Stuphblog

  3. iBelong too… Loved your story, made me laugh, and think of my mom, (that’s a very good thing, she’s awesome) although I haven’t yet managed to get her to get a cool phone! She’s still got one from about ten years ago…
    Her disdain prevents her – she’s too funny.


    • I understand your mum perfectly. I can do everything on a computer, but iStuff was not my thing. Then I realised that Mr. Swiss and Son No. 2 were having conversations, where I was left out. So I decided now or never and I did it. Now the next obstacle is to learn how the iTV works. Yes, it has changed over the years. You do not just press a button to change the channel, you have to press the right button. You want to video something – forget it. Mr. Swiss has about 2 different recording devices which record a the programme is running. I can switch the TV on and off, but that is now my limit. But I will get there I am sure. Just a matter of time, although I do prefer reading a book on my iPad.


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