Friday, May 3, 2024

Digital dilemmas

On the Tour des Fiz last summer —
I didn't once look at a map; all navigation by phone.

James, from the Apple Store, was young, personable, and clearly capable in what he was doing… and yet his breezy confidence was equally terrifying. ‘Just leave it with me,’ he said, ‘if you come back in forty minutes, it’ll all done.’ I wanted to ask, but what about…, and can you explain…. and how does … but I didn’t have the courage.

Instead, I wandered around the shop-cum-gallery, trying to ease the pit in my stomach. What would happen if he lost my data? Would my banking apps still work… and do they back up my photos first…? Honestly, I reckon buying a new phone must rank with house buying and divorce as one of life’s most stressful experiences.

Okay, I exaggerate a little. But it’s significant how much of our life we now hold, literally, in the palm of our hands. In my case, my phone is my letterbox, my bank, my photo album, my document store, my daily newspaper… it’s become an essential connection to the everyday world, as much as to my family and friends.

And yet as I pondered the walls of screens in the store, I noticed how many of them depicted mountains and wilderness. From the Alps to the Arctic, they promised an aspirational paradise of travel and adventure - the very places we visit to escape the trappings of daily life. I doubt if any of the idealised landscapes on those screensavers have a mobile signal or a charging point nearby.

Sometimes, I wonder if I ought to take off with no more than a map and compass – just as I did for decades before succumbing to the digital dark side. For the truth is, the things we truly treasure are not held on a microchip or lodged in the cloud – they are the result of our physical efforts, our successes and failures our love and our laughter…

Or as James from the Apple Store might put it, 'our analogue experience!’

Meanwhile, if you're wondering about my new iPhone 15 Pro Max - everything transferred without a hitch.  

Amen to that!


  1. I was of a fortunate age when I was introduced to the world of digital, and it wasn't overwhelming. We were given PC's at work and were told, "Here you go, use them." And we all figured it out. I've had every manner of desktop, laptop, tablet and cellphone, and have managed to navigate the learning curve each time. I, too, wonder about my total reliance on my phone to navigate anywhere new, and have developed the fear of leaving my phone behind. Good Lord, I used to just consult a map when heading out, and had only a general idea of where I was going, and wasn't afraid! Technology, as in all things, has giveth and taketh away.

  2. I echo your sentiments. The favorite part of my phone, my ability to take photos with it, that's it.

  3. A new phone is always exciting for me, even as I berate myself for my addiction to the device.

  4. I dont have the courage, or knowledge to put that much on my mobile. It amazes me how much of people's lives are there, in that tiny little piece of technology.

  5. I think I had a map first thrust into my hand at about the same time as I learned to read, and was taught to navigate by my father. (Thank goodness the notion that "girls can't read maps" was not one I came across until I was well into adulthood.) There are very few things in life that I confidently claim to be good at, but map-reading is one of them. It is thus distressing to find that my fined honed skill now looks increasingly redundant!
    Cheers, Gail.

  6. Hari OM
    I only moved into 'smart' phone world a year ago... now I can't quite imagine how I would manage without it. Of course I would... but... YAM xx

  7. I don't have a smartphone, only a dumb one: computers only for me. I consider smartphones to be thought and experience blockers. This is from one who worked in computing for 30 years, taught programming, and could probably write apps for phones if I put my mind to it. What they are doing to our young people is disturbing.

  8. I rely on my phone to get me everywhere. Me, who used to get detailed instructions to any destination, across town or across country, and write then step by step on the back of an envelope. I still carry my paper atlas, and even referred to it, once. Oh, yes, my phone does all the rest of that stuff, too.

  9. My poor navigational skills have been further diminished by SatNav.

  10. I worry about who has access to the stuff on my mobile 'phone....from websites to geographical tracking. Thanks to the ruddy bank I have to have one but left to myself I would rather not. Mark you, traveling through Costa Rica using a map would lead to any number of new discoveries....