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App Me Up

June 6, 2019

Melissa Bean Sterzick

I keep saying I’m old fashioned. But I think I need to get over it. In a previous column, I mentioned overcoming my aversion to Uber. That felt good. And while I have a perfectly good iPhone, it’s sparsely populated by apps. I use some of the default stuff, plus Instagram, Yoga Studio, Photomath (for the homework), Amazon Music, TED Talks and Duolingo. 


Someone I like forced me into an app called GroupMe, but I don’t understand why we can’t just send group texts.


There are lots of reasons I’m not downloading apps at a mile a minute.


 


1- Unless I really need it, I don’t see the point. I use Photomath because I can take a picture of or enter a math problem and the app shows me the step by step calculations and answer. I had to get this because college was a long time ago, (and I majored in communications, anyway) so geometry and algebra are distant memories. There’s not much more embarrassing than admitting to your children that you can’t remember how to find the value of X if Y equals the square root of 103 and Z is the circumference of Saturn’s fifth moon. Tears have been shed. But without said tears and a desperate need to help my children learn math, I wasn’t going to go looking for a math app.


 


2- I find technology overwhelming. There are a billion apps out there and I don’t feel like combing the weeds for a good one. My husband’s commute is long and hard and he has tapped in to every resource possible to make it tolerable. He listens to books, podcasts, music, NPR, and talks to family members while he drives. He has a host of apps to help him access and organize the things he wants to put on while he drives. Until recently, I didn’t have the need to be occupied in this way. I’ve never enjoyed being read to, and even though I know it’s smart, those NPR voices give me willies. But a new exercise program has proven more successful if I listen to comedy, current events or motivational speakers or music. So, I started searching. TED offers a huge variety. It’s simple and I can use it with the Podcast app that was already on my phone.


 


3- I like the way I’m already doing it. I tried my hardest to use my phone for creating a calendar. I tried the app in place and downloaded three others, but nothing stuck. I felt more disorganized than ever. It’s possible I won’t grow out of this attachment to pen and paper. I can keep a to-do list on my phone and write notes to myself about scheduling, but the calendar and daily to-do are still kept by hand. I work for myself and I work from home, so I have the luxury of keeping a very simple schedule. My family does its best to complicate things, but it’s working out.


 


As I contemplate my digital life, I recognize there is still resistance to change. What’s new is an interest in experimenting. I knew I’d made a leap recently when a parking challenge had me wishing for better technology.


It’s your typical parking story. I took my daughter to the beach. It was a lovely 80 degrees outside – a fluke hot spot in our regular spring weather. And we were not the only ones with this great idea. I’d anticipated a crowd and planned to use my credit card at a meter near the ramp to the beach. 


However, not all of the meters at our beach have been upgraded to credit card capability. I could only find a spot at a coin meter. I needed 20 quarters and I only had one. I stood by the meter helplessly and wished very hard I had an app I could use to pay for my parking. 


Wouldn’t that be easy? No card needed. No coins needed. No feelings of impotence and frustration after an already long search for parking. A light bulb turned on in my head. The old-fashioned way of doing things suddenly seemed very, very old.


The story has a happy ending, though, because I joined the enormous group of people already smart enough to see the point of parking apps. And we eventually found parking on the street and had a beautiful time.


 



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