Giggles and Grins

…because life is a riot.

They’re phones, just phones


Was it a big deal when electronics departments first appeared in major stores? And what, pray tell, did they sell? TVs? Cameras? Transistor radios?

I can’t imagine life without electronics, which is frightening because I really don’t understand electricity. I don’t even get the difference between electric and electronic, though I suspect the tronic part is pricier and snootier.

Electrons, proton, ions…without understanding them I cater to their needs, charging and updating cameras, laptops, and cell phones.

In fact, I’ve upgraded to a smartphone, although my brother-in-law says calling it that is akin to saying “color TV.” That’s how prevalent smartphones are today.

I shouldn’t complain about my (smart) phone. It’s introduced me to constant internet access and an array of apps that I have yet to explore. But it’s also introduced me to the concept of SIM, as in a SIM card, which is a tiny plastic card with an even tinier micro-chip—it’s an electronics thing—that we smartphone users slide into our phones because that’s what the instructions tell us to do.

However, and here’s the snooty part, the instructions absolutely fail to appear when, in saving a contact to one’s phone, one is confronted with a screen asking to store in either USIM-only (unsynced) or Phone-only (unsynced).

That’s it. No explanations—smartphones needn’t trouble themselves with the trivial details of why there is now a U before the SIM, or the benefits of USIM versus Phone. “You should know this,” the smartphone says with a shrug. “Not my problem.”

My owner’s manual is no help—nary a mention of USIM and Phone-only. The electronic powers inside my phone wait with quiet smugness, refusing to budge until I make my uneducated choice: USIM, merely because it was the first option.

Now the electrons and ions swirl into action, storing my contacts like obedient soldiers, expecting me to overlook their recent insurrection. Which I do, but what choice do I have? The electronic scamps are in charge, and they know it.

To be truthful, I never understood transistor radios, either, but I could control them with simple knobs and a metal antenna. Smartphones, on the other hand, with their SIMs and their unmoving screens, baffle me. But I think my brother-in-law is right: we should simply call them “phones.” Stressing the “smart” part only increases their opinion of themselves.


  1. I suspect the term smartphone intends to distinguish those devices from the heavy-metal-rotating-dial phones of yesteryear. Sure, a smartphone would most certainly beat an old rotary dial telephone in a knowledge bowl competition. But I’d reach for the rotary phone in a street mugging every time: One whack with a rotary phone and your mugger is down for the count. The smartphone is going to bounce off and break its own face when it hits the pavement.

  2. Aha! Good point, Cityslipper. Smartphones are smart, but who do you want when you’re in a mugging? Your good ol’, heavy ol’ rotary dial. That’s who. Yeah! What now, smartphones? What now?

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