Monday, August 15, 2016

A smartphone commercial you would never see on TV

Gale Myra Pico with her new smartphone
August 9, 2016
    Walking on the sidewalk, sitting on a train, waiting for a table at a restaurant, most people so absorbed by their smartphones they don't look around and notice all the others doing the same thing they are, pecking away at small screens.  Does it make you feel disgruntled, like grousing that you've wandered into a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, strange alien beings  inhabiting familiar forms?  Here's another side to the story.

    My sister Gale is a schizophrenic, and for the last 25 years she's been living
Gale, Sam, and Gabe, absorbed in their
phones, August 14 Patterson CA
in a group home in San Francisco, while coming to see me in the East Bay every month.  For the first 24 of those years, I'd arranged for her to come over by calling on her house phone.  Often nobody would answer and the voice mailbox would be full.  If someone did answer, and repeated shouts of "Gale, phone for you," elicited no response, there was no reliable way to leave her a message.  She'd conceived a firm dislike of cell phones, and had never browsed web.  In short, she lived with the technology that existed at the time she was first hospitalized, in the 1960s.

    Gale likes to read books in French, and her current favorite authors are Guy De Maupassant the Victor Hugo.  I would order books for, but my French is poor and once I made a mistake and ordered a Classics Illustrated version by mistake.  And the books would take a long time to arrive, were expensive, and Gale needed to keep a dictionary handy to look up new words.  Then last year, she suddenly agreed to accept an iPad so she could use an e-book reader.  Afterwards, the world of French literature was just a convenient click away, as were the definitions of words she didn't know.

    And then she learned how to use the Maps app to get around better on public transportation.  And then Pandora, to listen to Little Richard.  And then to use email — when one of hers showed up on my inbox, I'd think of how hard it had been to phone her before, and picture a small, isolated word expanding dramatically.

Gabe, Gale, ETa, and Sam, August 14 in Patterson
    But after a year, she started to feel a bit cramped in this brave new world.  It was still just as hard as ever to talk on the phone, and there were repeated problems with wi-fi at the group home, interfering with her music.  This summer she changed her mind about cellphones, and last week she got her first, an iPhone 6S+.

    She's already learned how to reply to texts using Messages, and to send new texts from Contacts, and to dial and answer the phone.  And she really appreciates being able to listen to her music on cellular data, when wi-fi isn't available.

    This Sunday Gale took her new phone with her to Patterson, near Modesto, when we visited
Eta and Gale, August 14 in Patterson
my younger son Sam. Sam has just earned his 11 month clean and sober badge — another world that's been expanding just recently.  The driver was my niece Eta, Gale's biological daughter, and my older son Gabe came with us too.  This was the first time Gabe and Sam had ever met Eta, who grew up in Israel — more expansions.

  The 3 youngsters had a good time, appreciating each other's coolness, while of course spending much time talking on the phone and texting.  But Gale was just as absorbed in her phone as they were in theirs, and everyone took time to help her.  It was all good to see, and I didn't grouse about alien beings once.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Expanding worlds. Your sister now does more than I do on my smartphone!