In Praise of My Smart Phone

Dear little smart phone, my little, 2- x 4-inch, constant companion. How can such a small thing sitting in my pocket replace an eighteen-volume encyclopedia Britannica as well as a shelf with phone directories, dictionaries, a thesaurus, and grammar, foreign-language, and medical reference books?

You truly are a wonder and never cease to amaze me. Sitting in a little corner is Siri, who knows just about everything from the nearest Thai restaurant to the birthdate of Genghis Kahn. And when she does not know, she is truly sorry. In another corner sits Amazon, which has just about everything I could want to buy. I even bought a toothbrush there; I wanted a hard one (contrary to my dentist's wishes) and could not find one in a drugstore.

My smart phone loves me, it tells me how much water I drank today--not enough, it admonishes, and I obey with another glass. It wants me to walk more--at least 6,000 steps every day. (I try for 10,000 to make it proud of me.) My phone will tell me if there is a lot of traffic coming up on the road it suggested. It can be a little bossy: chirping at me that I have an appointment in ten minutes.

It tells me the weather, translates all languages under the sun, knows the names and phone numbers of all my friends, keeps my photo album updated, and takes photos and videos at every opportunity. Although with that last one, my smart phone is not kind; it makes me look old in selfies, and has not learned to erase my wrinkles.

I dictate, read books, do my banking, pay for things, get the latest news, and answer my friends' e-mails within seconds of getting them. It plays lovely music and generally never lets me be bored. I'm no longer impatient standing in line; we play a game of solitaire together.

Ask me what my most precious possession is. No, it's not the photo albums; they're on my smart phone. It's not the ocean view from my terrace; I have recorded the sound of waves crashing under my window in a video.

I can be reached anytime, anywhere, if I so choose, or not if I ask it to be silent. I can also get to everyone I know from wherever I am. The taxies know where I call from and charge my credit card. People can buy my books and charge their credit cards by swiping them into a little magnetic card reader plugged into my smart phone.

I prefer texting my friends or e-mailing them than calling on the phone. I find it more efficient and also more creative. I can be as brief or as witty or as long-winded as I please--no one will interrupt me or hang up on me.

While some people complain of the lack of face-to-face conversations, I have extended my reach to people I would otherwise not connect to at all. Through Facebook I have found long-lost friends and family members living in far-flung countries to converse with. I see photos of my brother's children who would never dream of sending them to me via snail mail.

My daughter in Toronto, Canada calls on her smart phone every day as she walks her dog, and I participate in her strolls along her street. My grandson in San Francisco sent me photos of campaign paraphernalia from his election to the Bart Board, and I can watch him talking to a crowd in real time. Yet none of this precludes long phone conversations that I still have on a regular basis with family and friends.

I am looking forward to the next generation of miracles that my smart phone will perform. There is no limit to where we will travel together, my beloved little companion and I.