Monday, 17 September 2018


                                                    Don't get in a flap over your App.

WHO invented the App? Whoever it was, I'd like to shake their hand. And strangle them with an old fashioned telephone cord.

Remember those? Phones in the one place? Attached to a wall and, in our case, sitting neatly on a hall table. Dial-up digits. Phones that allowed you to ring someone, and allowed someone else to ring you back.

Nothing else. No texting. No photos. No live recording. No live streaming. No face to face chats. And definitely no Apps.

For the past few weeks, my smartphone has been sending me reminders that my storage is almost full and I need to delete files to free up space. I have lots of issues with this.

1. I have only a vague idea what files are on my phone, because it's always doing updates, and for all I know it could be downloading files it thinks I need. But I don't need them. Or at least, I don't know if I do. And even if I don't, I don't know what they are or where to find them, or how to delete them.
It's a bit tragic, but there you go.

2. I am terrified that if I allow my phone to make further decisions for me, I'll lose stuff I really want. Like photos of my kids. Or all my contacts.

3. I have to wonder how smart my smartphone really is? On the one hand, it can do constant updates without my permission. On the other, it can't sort out this minor problem without worrying me. Has it not figured out by now that I am a bit technically challenged?

But back to Apps. I freely admit there are a few I wouldn't be without. My parking App, for example. I can park anywhere around Dublin (and presumably in the rest of Ireland: I haven't tried it) without having to worry about having coins or feeding meters. Wherever I am, I can pay from my phone. I know it's just an App, but it feels like a magical power.

Then there's WhatsApp. Texting for free, lots of people in the same group, loads of different groups, hundreds of bloody notifications every day....Deep breath. No, it's all good. And when it gets too much, I can turn off my data.

Except I might miss an important message in one of the groups. And there lies the rub. Once an App draws you in, once you realise how vital it is, it has you. You can't escape: you're caught. Tied by technology. Tethered far tighter than the corded phones of our childhood. Or my childhood, at least.

But that's only the start. I am on Facebook and I have the App on my phone. Downloaded by the very helpful young man in the shop, after I went to get my phone fixed.

"You don't have a lot on it," said he, like it was a crime. "Would you like me to download a few Apps for you?"

What was the harm, I thought. I'd probably never use them, but it would be handy to have them. Just in case.

Now I have Twitter. And Instagram. And Messenger. I also have YouTube, for some strange reason. I definitely don't remember downloading that. I've never watched it on my phone. I'm not a fan. But I'm afraid to delete it in case one day I desperately need to watch a YouTube video to save someone's life.

I don't have Snapchat because I can't get my head around a messaging service whose content is wiped forever after mere seconds. My memory isn't that flipping good.

The problem - and it hardly needs pointing out - is that all these Apps suck time from your day like Dementors suck happiness from your body. Don't get me wrong. They're a great way of touching base with your online friends. And sometimes your real life friends.

But I've yet to meet anyone who manages it all. I might decide to drop into Facebook or Instagram, see what the world is up to, say hi to a few people. Ten minutes, max. When I come to, an hour has passed. And I'm not sure what I've done.

In the last week, I've also discovered another App. Or rather, The Eldest has introduced me to it. She has Boggle on her phone. Remember Boggle? You get a word and you have to find all the other words contained in it.

Harder than it looks. Especially if it only has one vowel. Or it's something like Recycle. And you have to make 8 words from it. (Or maybe it was 7. Please, don't spend your day looking for 8 words in Recycle, in case they don't exist!)

I'll tell you now: it's addictive. If you want to really see the competitive streak in me, give me a Boggle puzzle and set me against a clock. The Eldest wants to go out, but I won't give her back her phone. Not until I find every word. And beat the clock. It's my finest ten minutes. But not exactly my finest hour.

But there's hope for me. Because I won't be getting Boggle on my phone. It's one App I shall do without. Unfortunately, it's nothing to do with my iron clad discipline.

I've just no bloody room on my phone.


Dear reader,

Have you favourite Apps or ones you hate, but are afraid to ditch? Let me know in the comments below. (Your email address won't appear, and comments are moderated, so it may take an hour or two to see them.)

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Have a lovely September.     
Sharon. xx