Day #272: What Did We Do Before Cell Phones?

Today I was at my son’s baseball game and my phone slipped out of my pocket.  When it hit the concrete beneath the bleachers I had the sinking feeling that the outcome would not be good.  I was right.  While there was no physical damage, it’s ‘brains’ were scrambled.  I tried in vain to will my injured phone back to life.  I figured out that one of it’s buttons was no longer working but all of its other functions appeared to be in tact.  Later, I learned that that button also affected the battery charging.  At that point, it was a race against time to repair or replace the phone before the battery died for the last time.

As I agonized over the demise of my phone, I was amazed by how dependent I had become.  My eldest’s playoff game would be over soon!  What would I do if I couldn’t send him a text message to congratulate him on a well played game or console him after a tough loss?  How will I listen to all of my personal playlists in the car?  How will I play Words with Friends with my auntie?  How do I answer emails while I travel?  There will still countless other things that I feared that I would miss out on without my beloved smart phone.

What else could I do but hustle over to the store and get myself a new phone.  I was eligible for an upgrade to the latest model.  Silly me.  I thought that meant that the nice people would swap my old phone for a shiny new one with little (if any) monetary exchange.  When the young man asked me for $200, I was a little surprised.  I started to decline, but it was too late.  They had me.  I was hooked.  I couldn’t live without my high definition camera that was always ready to record the latest funny thing my boys were doing.  I needed to be able to check my friends’ Facebook statuses when I get a free minute.  I need to have Internet access at all times should I feel the instant urge to ‘Google’ something on a moment’s notice.  I buckled.  I caved.  I forked over the $200+ dollars for the phone and a case to protect it from future bleacher dives.

Where does that fit in the budget?  How big of  a chunk of your household budget is taken up by cellular telephone service and why?  Because of my need to stay in constant contact with a whole host of young people and a few very close friends, I need unlimited text messaging.  That’s not cheap.  However, I have to wonder, how much do families fork out who have mobile phones for every member of the family?  In those cases, it doesn’t seem to make much sense anymore to have a home telephone.  I know quite a few people who have discontinued their home phone service in favor of cellular service.  I guess I’m still a little old-fashioned.  It seems that you still need to have that one central means of communication, but maybe I’m wrong about that.  I think what all of this tells me is that as technology evolves and we become more dependent upon it, we have to figure out which technological advances are tradeoffs (replacements) and which are additions.  Additions are costly and require extra room in the budget.  Replacements are great because we swap an old expense for a new one and get a better product in the meantime.

How do you adapt to technology?  Where do you fall on the technology adoption curve?  Are you at the front of the curve as an innovator or early adopter?  Do you wait for the majority of the world to embrace the latest technology and work out the bugs and therefore find yourself in the middle of the curve?  Or are you always just a few steps behind the rest of the world?  These are reasonable questions to consider as they directly relate to the prices that you pay for goods and services — particularly relative to their quality.  Those at the front of the curve tend to pay the highest prices and those at the end of the curve tend to pay the lowest prices but make considerable concessions with respect to technological advances.  Still, considering where you fall on the technology adoption curve may help you in understanding how best to shop and negotiate the best deals.


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