With profound regret I have subjected my own mother to a dismal digital life of Android (the Samsung Fascinate, specifically, still running Android 2) in a failed bid to give her something better than Windows Mobile with which she never became comfortable. It has proved to be a step backwards from WinMo, actually.
To characterize that my heart is good here, I even got her a 212 area code cell phone number (virtually impossible, the most coveted area code in the world) which she loves as a status symbol, but because she just can’t figure out the stupid phone, after years of having that number she still hasn’t even memorized it because she just doesn’t use the phone, other than the occasional attempt to sign into Yahoo Finance which doesn’t work because she had waited too long and the password timed out from the previous month during which she last tried, because she is incapable of figuring it out in between my lessons with her.
My mom is not young anymore. She has zero technological intuition, zero. Compounding that stacked deck, she is growing increasingly forgetful, so my trying whenever I see her to instill muscle memory of what to tap to compose a new document, crop a photo or even just to google something, she forgets, and when I teach her again, because she gets nervous, writing down each thing I teach her as we repeat each little thing several times does not work. You likely have someone in your life akin to her in these respects, I needn’t elaborate much further. I believe they call this learned helplessness. It was I who taught her that helplessness, but that I am able to identify my mistake, to resolve and seek help to rectify it and to see that as both exigent and imperative, versus just blaming my mom’s ineptitude, is a good sign for her sake, is it not.
So I want to get her a new phone. Not Android is the first requirement; Android, also Samsung and phone-related-Google, have no hope of redeeming themselves to her. If I bought one she’d tell me to return the phone immediately but appreciates the gesture and loves her son. Parenthetically, can’t you see already that I love my mother more than Google, and if so, would you please switch from calling me a fanboy to calling me a momma’s boy? The latter, at this point in my life, would be less hurtful.
Due to my failures to get her comfortable with any device or software, or select the technology most suitable for her, I have essentially relegated her to a self-defeating presumption that acclimating to the most basic levels of everyday technology may simply be out of reach for her. Were you to ask my mom what Chrome or a bookmark is, that would be like asking someone to explain in one sentence what time is.
My mom’s phone needs in a steep downward slope of importance, a short list, are as follows: email, checking her stock portfolio, pictures (taking, viewing, cropping and sharing them), Youtube, listening to music, placing calls and finally receiving calls. The actual phone function of the phone barely makes the list, though if it became feasible to teach her, video conferencing with her little grand daughter either over Skype, Google or Facetime, terrific, but not important. If I tell her her new phone can do more than those things, she will react with trepidation that it is too complicated to even turn on and that there is no hope.
I’ve got two candidates in mind — the next iPhone and the Nokia 1020, the one with the juiced-up camera as she is an avid photographer, most of her life, and her DSLR has grown challenging for her to use, to remember how to get the aperture adjustments prioritized or something as basic as popping up the flash, let alone manipulate the functionality of the external flash I bought her, let alone modify the ISO settings and such, let alone lug the camera bag around — a phone with as good a camera as possible would be helpful. It would be easier to have my mom go back to using her old Nikkromat camera and developing film in a darkroom than using the Samsung Captivate for very mediocre photos. I didn’t even bother trying to teach her its camera app, too obvious a waste of time.
So that’s a big selling point for the Nokia in this decision I’m trying to make, that I can tell her it has the best camera, even better than that of the iPhone, that offers the brightest possibility that she can ditch her DSLR and start taking pictures with her phone were she to go with the Nokia. Also helpful is the interface that is most welcoming to someone who’s basically starting from scratch in terms of being introduced to technology. I am not sure whether Windows Phone or the latest iOS fits that bill. I haven’t touched a Windows Phone since its infancy, things have since changed, I’ve heard the new iOS has its share of detractors.
The biggest selling point to the iPhone that I see is that she knows that all of her friends, with exception to one Blackberry holdout, women of her digital cloth, her bridge partners, they all have iPhones and they know how to email, to check their stocks and to take pictures. They’re proud of their phones and show them off. So I suspect my mom would be primed to like the iPhone and most inclined to turn it on for the first time with a mindset most conducive to diving in, tap icons and figure the thing out. She’s never heard of Windows Phone, surely has no friends with one.
So even though the 1020 from what I’ve read has the best camera (though the iPhone’s ain’t bad), and even though Windows Phone may or may not be better for someone like her than iOS, this predisposition I suspect she has to eagerly embrace an iPhone versus something, like Android when I got her that crap phone, he hadn’t ever heard of, is something not to underestimate. We may, here, all agree that for someone like her the Windows Phone/Nokia 1020 is obviously superior from software to hardware, but when I remind you that getting the thing all her friends have could outweigh that decisively, I might be right, don’t dismiss that. I’m not sure.
This may be my last chance not to screw this up. I love my mommy dearest and I want her to use that 212 number finally. Which phone would you recommend? I write way too long, I’m sorry about that, and thanks.