19 January 2021

Phoneless

Over at the "LIDL" store on Chesterfield Road there's a sweet little shopworker called Anna from Romania. Last night, when I was at the checkout ready to pay for my shopping, Anna asked if I had "LIDL Plus" on my phone? I said that I didn't have a phone so  I was excluded from using "LIDL Plus". "It is a kind of discrimination," I told her.

"Still, it must be very peaceful - not having a phone," she said.

"Yes it is. I can recommend it. Many people seem addicted to their phones. Checking them out all the time. I don't have that in my life."

Now let me rewind and explain that "LIDL Plus" is a kind of store discount card. It was introduced quite recently. However, there are no actual plastic cards - membership benefits can only be accessed via smartphones. Folk like me who do not possess smartphones are excluded from using the system.

When "LIDL Plus" first came out I had several e-mail communications with the chain's customer services - complaining about this careless discrimination but to no avail. After a while I gave up complaining but it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I have been a pretty loyal "LIDL" customer for years but my loyalty is disregarded. 

It's one of the downsides of not having a mobile phone. In fact, I cannot think of many other  negatives.

It's a bit weird living in a world where so many of my fellow citizens are glued to their phones. They just cannot stop looking at them.

One of the things that appals me about smartphones is the sight of young parents checking them out while pushing babies or small children along in their prams or pushchairs. It's as if they are saying - I am proud of you kid and I love you but you are not as interesting as what is on my little screen! Oh you said "birdie" for the first time as that pigeon flew by but Sandy just left me a message on Facebook so please keep schtum child!

And please don't talk to me about drivers using phones behind the wheel. That makes my blood boil with rage.

Apple, Samsung, Facebook and the rest have cunningly designed their systems to keep phone users hooked. In this sense they are bit like dealers who encourage drug addiction.

Modern humans have existed on this planet for about 200,000 years and for 199,950 of those years no one had access to mobile phone technology. People got along fine. Consequently, it makes me chuckle inwardly when anybody expresses anxiety or concern about me walking in the countryside without a phone.  They are like religious converts who pray to the great god Smartphone and cannot understand why there are still a handful of non-believers out here in the wilderness.

Of course, I can see why phones are pretty much essential in various forms of work these days but in my life I have neve arrived at a point where I felt I needed one. I hope that that day never arrives but if it does then okay, I shall also join The Smartphone Cult and feel the benefits of "LIDL Plus".

48 comments:

  1. I like my phone mostly because it takes good photos. It's also handy to look things up but it is too easy to stare at it. Unlike the rest of my coworkers, I don't carry it at work, it stays in my locker. I appreciate the convenience of it but also remember a time when there were only landlines and we survived just fine, thank you very much.

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    1. I once had an appointment in hospital and the nurse at the nurses' station was on her phone for personal reasons all the time I waited for my doctor to arrive.

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  2. I can understand you completely having been there myself about 2 years ago. However, when my old mobile gave up the ghost and I replaced it with a smartphone, i found I had become one of those addicted to it. It draws you in, although I try to be strict about its usage. Even watching a tv quiz can have me grabbing for it to get the answer. In fact if I hadn't been checking it now, I wouldnt have seen your post! Living on my own during lockdown it has been a godsend.

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    1. Just wait till the spacecraft arrives to take you to Planet Smartphone. Can't be long now. My wife got her first smartphone two years ago and now she is always on it - utterly hooked. We might even be watching a good film on the TV and there she is scrolling down her little screen.

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  3. I had resisted joining the mobile 'phone trend for a long time until one evening, on the drive home from work along one of our lanes, the vehicle in front of me had an accident and overturned with two young lads trapped inside. I had no means of calling for help as I had no 'phone. We were extremely fortunate that a farmer in a tractor came along and called the emergency services with his mobile 'phone. That incident convinced to buy one, although I still only keep it for emergencies or when we (used to) travel abroad.

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    1. It's nice to know that your phone has not taken over your life JayCee. I hope the two lads in the car were okay.

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  4. We have recently upgraded to iPhones and I have to say they are brilliant, but of course I hardly use any of its functions, it's just that what I do use is a lot better!
    A friend tells the tale of turning up for his reservation for dinner at a local trendy pub with five other people and was unable to open a tab unless he downloaded their app. It was the kind of place where the tables are made of old planks of wood (trendy but impossible to clean), tatty old doors decorate the walls and food is served in plant pots or old biscuit tins. I jest not!
    He was unable to download the app because he didn't have his phone with him so they had just one round of drinks paid for in cash and left. The place down the road with much cleaner tables was happy to open a tab for them!

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    1. I have come across such places before but when pressed they have supplied proper menus. It is another form of casual discrimination.

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  5. Regarding your point about pushchairs, the other thing that makes me so cross is people walking their dogs while glued to the phone. The dog is often walking in the road and about to get run over but they have no idea.

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    1. Why take a dog for a walk when you can take your phone?

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  6. F has a smartphone because her work imposed it on her. It is useful for videos of small birds flitting about on bird-tables and keeps me entertained for hours while she works. However if it can so effectively capture a cat brain, she wonders what it does to small children. regards Mr T

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    1. I am glad that I grew up in a world without smartphones.

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  7. I can see your point and understand your reluctance to be one of the trillions addicted to a small screen. But you cannot now complain about not reaping any of the benefits afforded to those who do. It's not just the LIDL Pluses of the world. It's the maps, available at a touch, the books one can listen to, the information of all kinds that we can access whether for the simple satisfying of curiosity (what is this plant?) or a true need. It is the ability to text a loved one- "I'm going to be late but am fine, don't worry." "While you're out, could you pick up a quart of milk?" It's the camera always there in your pocket if you see something that tickles you that you want to share or amazes you. Humans did without so many things that we don't think twice about these days- cars and electricity and television and computers and even the grocery stores that offer LIDL Plus. And yet, we adopt and use those technologies, those things, all of which have benefits as well as downsides. I will not disagree with your assessment of the addictive properties of phones. I know you're right about that. And you have every right not to be a phone owner. But I will tell you that I am grateful for mine.
    And oh- let me add- you can also make phone calls from these devices. I know! Sounds crazy, right? But you can, if need be.
    Now. How is Phoebe doing?

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    1. Phoebe is feeding well and Frances and Stewart are patiently learning the first intimate steps of parenthood together. I am deliberately keeping a little distance this week while Stewart is off work but Shirley has gone over to pick up some washing etcetera. In her work, Shirley often has to deal with young babies and of course she was once the mother of tiny children

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    2. Thank you! Yes. This is an incredibly important time for the new little family unit. I am sure that Frances and Stewart are exhausted and joyful and baffled and surprised at what comes naturally too. All of this. At least I was.

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  8. I have a smart phone but I rarely use it for anything "smart." I mostly just make occasional calls, check my e-mail, take pictures and check the weather or the time. It DOES come in handy, but I've also been known to forget it at home and I never really mind.

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    1. You have got a healthy relationship with your phone Steve and it has enabled you to take many wonderful pictures.

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  9. Lidl don't do home delivery either like Tesco and the other big supermarkets do. I wouldn't go walking without my hiking stick and mobile phone. I listen to Spotify, take photos and text and phone if needed. I have been at airports on my own and people hide into their phones and nobody talks to anyone.

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    1. When you are on your phone please don't accidentally walk off the end of The Sheep Shed Peninsula!

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  10. Imagine my temper to discover that a Lego set bought for William did not come with directions. Just advertisements for more lego sets. The directions could be downloaded on your smart phone. The company received a complaint. The set was returned to the store. They are excluding kids whose parents do not have smart phones. They sent me an e-mail that the directions were easily accessible online. Except they are not. When you click on the directions, the PDF that appears is simply the same advertisements included in the box. No directions.

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    1. Is William your husband Debby? How come a grown up guy still plays with Lego?

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    2. He is my grandson. My husband is Tim
      He builds with boards.

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  11. It wasn't so very long ago that Gregg and I didn't have smartphones. Nowadays I feel a moment of panic if I'm driving somewhere and realize that I don't have it with me...which is silly considering all the years I did a LOT of driving without one and never thought twice about it! There were a few times when a phone would have saved me a lot of trouble, like the time when I was twenty and my car broke down 30 miles from home, on a long stretch of highway and it was bitterly cold outside. I had to walk to the nearest gas station and spend hours trying to make contact with someone to come out and help me. So I'm glad to have the means to call someone if I'm ever in that situation again!

    But to your point, yes, I think people are obsessed with their phones which is a shame. I also hate seeing people with small children who are too engrossed in their screens to notice them. It's not doing kids any favors, either. My adolescent years would have been miserable if I'd been always accessible to my parents 24/7. I think it stunts kids' emotional and social development to always have mom and dad in their pockets, so to speak. I see a lot of helpless behavior and immaturity from middle schoolers these days that I think is a direct consequence of having cell phones. They're too used to mommy and daddy doing everything for them and watching their every move. When I was a kid, if you forgot your homework or lunch, for instance, you learned a lesson the hard way. These days kids just text or call their parents and voila! someone swoops in to "rescue" the little darlings.

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    1. In my last teaching job in Sheffield phones in classrooms were becoming a big problem. There was even one case of kids winding up a teacher jut to get her riled and then secretly filming her outburst before sharing it on the internet.

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  12. Remains to be seen if you can still resist when little Phoebe gets old enough to use one (in a year or so!)...
    I find my smartphone a handy alternative to computer or tablet for some things, but when I'm out it usually stays buried deep in my handbag (unless I need it as camera). So far I have no app installed on it to do with payment.

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    1. I am not saying I will never have one. Mind you I do despise the consumerism and vast profit making associated with smartphones.

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  13. I switch on my unsmart mobile phone (bought October 2003) about once a week, but I'm beginning to think it's only a matter of time before I have to get a new one. I wonder how I (and you) will cope when we have to have electronic proof of vaccination to enter pubs, etc. I've also just heard about people missing texts from doctors inviting them to be vaccinated at short notice.

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    1. Your last two points are very apt Tasker. There is an ignorant assumption abroad that everybody has a smartphone and if you don't have one you are essentially forgettable.

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  14. I'm with you on phones. I have received many lectures about not having a phone when I walk miles in the woods. I won't tell them when I fall anymore as then they think I need phone to tell people where I am.

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    1. It's likely that if one had a serious fall when out walking there would be no phone connectivity anyway!

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  15. Although I gave one of my brothers my older phone he won't use it and it so frustrating and inconvenient at times, especially as he is my mother's carer. I forecast many years ago how people would be disadvantaged by not being connected to the WWW and so they now are and people without smart phones are becoming increasingly so too.

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    1. We are lepers, outcasts - operating in the shadows of someone else's world.

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  16. I find my smart phone useful for maps and taking photos. Here in Western Australia you can be fined $1000 for even touching your phone whilst the car is in motion, and this includes being stationary at traffic lights. Of course there needs to be a police officer handy!

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    1. The last sentence sounds mischievous to me. I think the WA police should grill you under a bright light about your phone use when out driving.

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  17. Smart phones are a great tool if used appropriately and I have no doubt you will eventually use one, Phoebe will make sure of it!

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    1. I could use one for smoothing out the mortar between bricks.

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  18. Well don't talk to me about mobile phones, the trouble I am having with my new one. Think if a large virus corrupted the internet we would be lost, so I shouldn't worry about a few rewards from Lidl. Remember where 'Green Shield' stamps went!

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    1. I am thinking of taking up semaphore messaging. All you need is a hill and a few flags.

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  19. I am with Mary on this one!

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    1. Which Mary? Mary in Western Australia or Mary in Lloyd, Florida? There are so many Marys around. They are taking over like smartphones!

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    2. Ah, didn't realise there was another Mary! Mary Moon I meant.

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  20. I rarely use my smartphone. Occasionally, when I remember where I've left it (usually in the armrest in the car!) I'll check for something that might be of importance, or check my bank statements. In the twelve months I've had the thing I've made one phone call, and fielded half a dozen emails. It is however great as a camera - it's main function as far as I'm concerned!
    Something that irritates, and amazes me, is the fact that a group of people sit at a table together and promptly ignore one another whilst gazing, with rapt attention at their phone screen! By the next generation conversation will have died out completely and those without a phone will become social pariahs - if they haven't already!
    Good to hear that Phoebe and Mum and Dad are doing well.

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    1. Just a thought CG - please don't bite my head off. You could have bought a camera instead of a smartphone!

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    2. I already had camera YP, but was advised to have a phone by my friends, concerned that I live alone, and sometimes walk the dog off the beaten track !

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  21. Like you, I don't have a phone, and have encountered the niggling little discriminations that that involves, as well as the rudeness of those who who use their devices to circumnavigate life's courtesies, so I understand your frustrations completely. It's interesting watching my sons; three have smartphones, one has a cheap basic phone which he uses for emergencies (for instance, he came across a gentleman who had fallen and hit his head, so was able to get him help), two like to have their phones close for photos and directions, but use it moderately, but son four has his phone on constantly, yet hardly ever speaks into it; he texts, listens to music, uses the internet, uses his fitness apps, but rarely uses it for speaking! I won't allow phones at the dining table, but I can see him silently itching to say, "Please may I be excused?", so that he can be reunited with the contraption! All my sons worry that I should have one, just so that it's there if/when I need it; for the moment, I have the landline and can hold out, but it is a growing pressure ... and will become more so, as society embraces the mobile technology to access more and more things.

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    1. How wonderful to learn that I am not alone in resisting recruitment to The Cult of The Smartphone Elizabeth! When red phone boxes started to become redundant I guessed that that would drive me to getting a mobile phone but I still manage nicely without one. Arguably, Son Four (sounds like a Tottenham footballer) might benefit from a clip round the earhole.

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    2. Imps supporter. What can you expect? Seriously, I think it demonstrates a) how the technology has impacted and progressed more fully even in the time gap between my lads, and b) Son four is the only one that went through any kind of schooling, choosing sixth form college for his exams, so perhaps the mentality of the herd has been stronger with him - though, that said, because of the pandemic he's spent more actual hours studying from home than he would've if I 'd taught him like the others, and the exams won't happen anyway! It's frustrating that the others all got good results, sailed through their uni years and are settled in good professions, and the one who gave 'proper education' a go is suffering in such a way. The acquisition of bad mobile habits adds insult to injury, but it's the least of my concerns as he drives himself into the ground with countless online lectures, making sure his portfolios are up to scratch for assessment and, particularly for art, fretting that digital images don't convey his artwork in the same way that the work looks in reality. My heart goes out to all our young people today, trying to negotiate these strange times.

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  22. When I (used to) travel on the bus, I always felt sorry for the wee tots in pushchairs who were on the bus with their mums glued to their phones and never speaking a word to the child. I often thought what a shame when you could be pointing things out through the window or having a chat with the child, one of the joys of taking your grandkids out! Mind you, I was thoroughly chastised the last time my grandson (5) was here and we were watching a film and he caught me sneaking looks at my phone and said 'Mum always says she'll watch a film with us and then she's always on her phone'. Guilty - yes!

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