I fully admit to being a technology addict. I’ve had a love affair with Facebook for many years and am now starting to get really into Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube and (obviously) Blogging. I’ve had conversations with people who “don’t get it” and have never been on Facebook before, and I’m sure I sound just as much like a martian to them as they do to me. I have also been a smartphone addict for a number of years and have had similar conversations with non-believers.
But beyond my love of all that has a microchip in it, I recently became exceptionally grateful for smartphones. Yes, those “unnecessary” phones that think they’re computers. The very gadgets that make many in my parent’s generation cringe when they see a 4 year old mindlessly thumbing her way through Facebook or Angry Birds when she should be paying attention to something else. Dear readers, these little gadgets have an important place in my heart.
My husband and I recently lost our beloved beagle Ralphy to cancer. We took him in to the vet because he started acting funny last week- he wasn’t eating good for us and was a little more lethargic than usual. He had just recovered from a herniated disc in his neck, so we thought perhaps the steroids he had been on caused an ulcer. Five hours and a lot of testing later, the vet told us that the mass they saw on the X-ray was most likely a very malignant form of cancer and they had to remove his spleen. When they opened him up and removed the spleen they found several other masses on his liver and pancreas that they could not remove. When we got the phone call late that night we agreed with the vet- if we closed him up and let him wake up he would only be waking up to a very painful couple of weeks. Our baby didn’t deserve that. We gave them the go-ahead to let him go that night. We had had him for one year and ten days and he was only six years old. Within a span of eleven hours we went from “just a quick run up to the vet” to “we think it’s cancer” to “the humane thing to do is to let him go tonight”.
Life is SO short, but the problem (and the blessing) is we don’t really remember that until we lose someone close to us. It’s probably a good thing that we’re not fully aware of how short our time was here on Earth (go to 20:10). Maybe this is another case where ignorance is bliss. On the one hand, it makes these times in life tremendously painful. I feel like someone just came up and punched me in the face, heart and stomach all at once. But what about the alternative? If we had known that Ralphy’s time with us was growing short what would we have done? The only thing we can hope to do is appreciate everyone and everything we have every single day and lead a life that brings ourselves and others joy.
Smartphones made this difficult time in our lives a little bit easier because they allowed (nay- encouraged) us to document every single thing that dog did this last year. In the old days if you saw something you wanted a picture of you’d have to run and find your camera, but not anymore. Why risk losing the photo op to go get your “real camera” when you can bust out your iPhone on the spot? We have hundreds of pictures of Ralphy doing absolutely nothing because we were constantly sending each other picture and video text messages of “our son”. When I wasn’t texting a picture to Mike I was posting pictures of Ralphy to Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is the new wallet full of awkward family photos- you don’t need to have hard copy prints of every photo and then try to show them to everyone you know. Instead, upload them to Facebook or text them in real time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to my mom on the phone and said “You wouldn’t believe how cute Ralphy is being… Check your texts for pictures!”
If it wasn’t for cameras, texting and social media on smartphones I guarantee we wouldn’t have even 1/10th the number of pictures and videos of that precious dog as we do today. So yes, smartphones are unnecessary. But like so many things in life, sometimes you’d be surprised how one’s definition of the word “necessary” can change in a matter of minutes.