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High Tech


I was supposed to spend my two weeks off from school over winter break looking for either an iPhone or an iPad, reading up on the positives and negatives, and actually visiting an Apple store, if necessary, in order to come to a decision about which small step towards the modern age I’d be willing to take. Except, I didn’t do it. I read a bunch of articles, and tried to read some books – smartphones for dummies, etc. – but I kept thinking, eh, couldn’t I just pay off more of my student loans and leave the modern age for later?


Butterfly thinks the answer is obvious. Spend the money on chicken treats.

I have a computer. And I have a cell phone (though I rarely use it, and even more rarely remember to charge it). My thought was that, if I could get an iPhone the size of an iPad, that might be useful, because then I could, possibly, read something written on that damned screen. But I hate the sound of the phone ringing, and I would hate it just as much if it sounded like Beyoncé, or barking, or a doorbell. And I really don’t want to be answering the phone or texting at all times. I like privacy, and quiet, and boundaries. I don’t want to be expected to answer messages all day long, at someone else’s pace. I hate the urgency implied by keeping a phone on your person at all times – as if we have all become doctors, with beepers at our waists in case a patient goes into labor.


“It’s an emergency!!!!!”

My cell phone stays in my pocket book (that’s why I’m always forgetting to recharge it). And I have a phone at home, it’s called a land line, and it has great reception (as opposed to many cell phone calls that sound as if your interlocutor is under water, in a tunnel, and having a light saber battle all at once). I prefer to not FaceTime, if I can help it. I dress up and do my hair when I have to go out; I don’t want to have to work that hard when I stay in, just to talk on the phone.

I don’t understand people who are fine with having private conversations in public, as if the smartphone creates a magic force field around you. I mean, sure, if each time you picked up your phone, an old fashioned telephone booth appeared around you, to give you privacy, then why not? But I have not seen an app for that yet.

Dogs don’t have to worry about iPads and iPhones. They get their messages through pee, and in no great hurry. They don’t need to be reachable at every moment, or know the latest world news and events. I wonder, though, if Cricket would like to have a smart phone, maybe attached to her waist, on a belt, so that she could keep track of Grandma at every moment. We’ve come up with all of this technology to keep an eye on our dogs when we’re at work, or keep track of children by GPS, but no one thinks about the dog with separation anxiety who needs to keep track of her people.


“Grandma, are you out there?”

Cricket would probably also like to have a device with her on her walks, to help her catalog each smell that draws her interest, and post it on Smell-o-gram or Insta-smell. She could even send her smells to her sister’s phone, so that Butterfly, meandering ten feet away, would know that an important smell had been discovered and must be sniffed immediately!


“If only I could send this smell to Butterfly, wherever she is.”


But Butterfly loves to meander.


Though there is something wonderful about sharing a smell with a sister.

I have my moments of iPhone envy, especially when I want to Google something on the fly, but there’s something wonderful about being able to imagine what Google might tell me, or making up answers for myself out of whole cloth. I like having some time spent in my own head, instead of strapped into the groupthink machine, just for a little while. Though that Smell-o-gram idea is starting to grow on me, for Cricket’s sake.


“I’m waiting.”

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

105 responses »

  1. I have my cell phone off all the time and people complain to me about not being able to reach me 🙂 I don’t want to always be available to everyone! And who needs a phone when you can just read a book on the train….

  2. I have two dogs as well (sisters from different litters) and they would want an app called Smell-o-gram. And I would want a translation program. Nice post.

  3. I loved this! There is something very refreshing about being a “Luddite.” We’re all so quick to jump on the bandwagon. But, yes, why haven’t they created apps for dogs (and cats)? I saw that somebody taught a dog to drive . . . .

  4. I could have written this piece as I also value not being connected all the time. I did start texting last summer, and I do appreciate the benefits of sending messages without having to talk. Dogs do have it easier–and I think we would all be better off if we followed their schedules (lots of naps and snacks!)

  5. Okay, I’m anti-Luddite. Between my wife and I, we own and iPad Pro, iPad mini, iPhone 6 plus, and an iPhone 4s. I’m a sucker for every new Apple thing that comes out. Older technology gets handed down to either my wife or my grown children. I use the iPad Pro for music scores. My wife uses her mini to read the newspaper when her mother has grabbed the paper edition.

    My recommendation for you Rachel would be to look at the iPhone 7 plus. It has a bigger screen but can still fit in a pocket or purse.

    The thing about having an iPhone in my pocket is that I always have my camera, my phone book, my calendar and reference guide (I can look up anything).

    Oh forgot to mention, I also have a Windows PC laptop. BTW, I spent forty years working in IT.

    • Ha! So, no bias, huh? The iPhone seven plus was the one I saw that made me even think about moving forward, but, still dragging my feet.

      • The iPhone 7 plus has greatly improved camera, but no head phone plug. Apple wants us to use Bluetooth headphones. Bah! Apple pods cost $169, I don’t think so. I thought of upgrading but decided against. Maybe next September when Apple announces latest and greatest. I keep losing headphones. Maybe if they put the headphone jack back.

        Also, my wife thinks I should get a commission when friends buy iStuff. :<)

  6. We refer to dog messages as p-mail. Some messages are longer than others and take more time to ‘read’. A beagle we walk with seems to be able to read between the lines.

  7. Cricket–that last photo of you is priceless! A co-worker got a doggie-cam. She eats lunch at her desk and talks to her dogs. It gets better. She puts it on speaker phone so we can listen to her dog snore. It is a riot! No, I don’t need a phone to watch my cats sleep.
    But my husband and I did go to AT&T to look at a new cellphone for me. Little dipshit that works there snapped out his earbuds and asked me if I had a smart phone. No, my phone is 7 years old–not too smart. He made a face, said there is 6-month learning curve for a smart phone, snapped those earbuds back in and walked away. Not a smart move, buddy. I would never buy anything from you.

  8. Butterfly &Cricket are too adorable.y son gave me his old iPhone last year. Before that I had flip phone. Yep, that’s what I had ! I will not face time. Perhaps if I had little kids or something I would. I find that everyone wants to text anymore, soon we will have no need for personal contact at all . Also thus is a small phone, not one of those big o Ed so the eye strain is bad. I am writing you on it now , you will notice numerous spelling problems cause spell ck is a problem. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed it and love the pics of the little cuties.

  9. Hi Rachel,
    While reading your article, I went “That’s me! That’s me!” For a long time I felt like you. Wait, I still do. But eventually I got a Samsung smartphone. A note: “I still have my land line.” I opted for a prepaid package minus a data plan. My friends and family know if they send SMS I am sure to answer. If by Whatsapp I will only get it if there’s Wifi. It is a win-win situation for me.
    Regards, Carol

  10. Life is much more interesting without those gadgets. I don’t have one either.

  11. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    Make an app for the dogs….we only use our ipad for games or movies, but my cell is on all the time. I like to keep my email checked, but I’d rather text than talk. I hate chatting on the phone.

  12. I often forget to charge the battery or forget to take the phone altogether. I lived and worked in the era of beeper and hated it. I am like you and like my quiet time. Love the idea of smell-o-gram. So get on it. Benji and Ms Zulu would be thrilled for sure.

  13. You made me want to give up my devices. But how would I read about Cricket and Butterfly without my iPad??

  14. This is another great read from you.. I often wonder what our bully cat is up to when we are away from home…

  15. It’s so nice to hear a young person say what I think about cell phones: I don’t want people to be able to reach me at all times. But when you’re over 50, like I am, you tend to keep those thoughts private for fear someone will call you old-school/fashioned.

  16. Hold on a second, I have a phone call from Cricket. ZZZZAPPPPPP. Forget it, she peed on her phone again.

  17. Jennifer Barraclough

    I hated having to carry a bleep when I worked in medicine … but after I bought an iPhone I became thoroughly addicted and count it as my most precious possession … if you ever give in and buy one, you may be surprised.

  18. I am firmly in the school of “I’M in charge of my own schedule, and your petty/stupid/inane/unnecessary phone call isn’t going to change a darn thing!” It may come from my years having to answer a phone as part of my job, or the years when I was an actual telephone operator for a long defunct answering service. I would come home and actually take the phone off the hook (remember when that used to be a viable option if you didn’t want to talk to somebody?) I bought an Android (I don’t care for Apple ANYTHING really) last year and it’s been okay. The GPS is wonderful, but like you I keep leaving it (the phone) in the bottom of my purse and my purse lives in my car (don’t’s a bad habit). People who are addicted to texting or calling that thing have given me odd looks and/or asked me outright why I bother to have a smart phone AND a land line. I say because there’s such a satisfaction gained from slamming up the receiver on some sales call or phone spammer that cannot be duplicated with a cell phone. The first leaves the unwanted caller with a head ache or at least a sore ear drum (so I might not be true), the unwanted cell caller just hears BEEEEEP (I think) as I press the end call button thingie. Maybe they just get dead silence, which is what they do deserve. Hmm.

  19. For me, the big advantage of the smartphone is the text message. I’m hard of hearing and I HATE to talk on the phone, because mostly what I say is “What? What?” People learn pretty quickly to text me, and I like texting back. I have no compunctions about turning it off to snuggle the poodles or do something else very important, like have a face-to-face conversation. When I’m talking with a student, the first thing I do is ostentatiously turn off the phone. There’s no better way to say, “I’m paying attention to YOU right now.”

  20. We have a lap top each and a mobile phone. That’s it. The mobiles are PAYG and sned and receive calls and texts. Perfect for us. Progress in technology scares me, as nothing is private or secure, and holding business meeting/salary reviews/job interviews in McDonalds is simply a Chip too far (sorry) :).

  21. love the photo of Cricket looking at the water. I love my phone for texting- it keeps me quick connected – I rarely use it for calls 🙂

  22. Rachel your humor has us smiling up a storm. So many fantastic observations like, “as if we have all become doctors, with beepers at our waists in case a patient goes into labor and they get their messages through pee, and in no great hurry and smell-o-gram or Insta-smell and as if the smartphone creates a magic force field around you”. Technology is great but it needs to be preceded by common sense and practicality and wisdom. You have the preceding three. Have a great day and don’t forget to charge your cell phone, lol.

  23. A lovely article. I have similar views regarding smart phones and their benefits for me personally and , like you, I very often forget to even charge mine. 🙂

  24. I’m 100% with you on this. Why do I need or want to be accessible to everyone all the time? If something is important someone can leave me a message. If it’s really really life critical chances are since I’m not a surgeon or EMT there is little I can do about it right now, so again where is the time sensitive need to get in contact with you now urgency? Why does their time get to be more valuable than mine? Maybe becoming a permanent pedestrian years ago forced me recognize life happens at a slower pace. That instant gratification is a myth. And there is no need for the ‘now now now’ rush. That being mindful and paying attention will save your life. Maybe being the person distracted drivers can hit changes how I think of technology. Maybe the fact that my dog now sees other pedestrians as obstacles to guide me safely around as they have their noses buried in their phones changes how I think of technology. Maybe the fact that I’ve realized I want to experience life as it happens, not document it for a later time changes how I think of technology.

  25. You’re too young for this, Rachel. As I often tell my friends who are much older than you, this technology is not going away. It’s only going to become more advanced. You’re smart and educated enough to know that the efficacy of technology depends on how one uses it. You get to decide if and when you answer your smartphone, access information on it (your google example) or use it as a nutcracker for that matter. No, I think maybe it’s the idea of being accessible that’s the real issue, not the technology. My very wise therapist suggested to me that when I “forget” to bring my phone with me it’s because there are very specific people I’m avoiding. Maybe you should think about the stressors in your life that may be making you fear being more accessible. Since I can’t text them, please tell Cricket and Butterfly I say hi.

  26. I have a Samsung smartphone but I simply don’t think of it as a phone. It lives in my pocket because it’s a wonderful camera, and I can do all my emailing and WordPressing on it (I write all my posts on this thing, and I’m using it to write this now). I can do these things lying down if I want or need to, which I often do. You can be completely in control of what these devices are for! And I can’t afford Apple products by the way. Samsung has always worked fine for me. Don’t feel pressured to have to gave one – but be reassured that even though it’s called a phone, it’s only as much of a phone as you want it to be. Mine almost never rings, and even if it did, I could just turn the sound off and pick up a message later when I see who called. There are more important priorities to attend to!

      • As I said before, my wife and I both have iPhones. We have a land line but rarely use it. I haven’t given the number out to anyone. I don’t even remember whet the number is. The only people that call us on the landline are telemarketers.

        We both rarely use the voice part of our phones anymore. We mostly text one another. I have stopped answering numbers that I don’t recognize and let it go to voice mail.

        When we moved to LA five years ago, we kept our numbers from Massachusetts. I didn’t see any need to change them. We often get odd looks when I tell them our number.

  27. We don’t have cel service in much of the state and I can’t stand being glued to a device. (The whole doctor thing… its real… ringing phones of any sort don’t get answered if I don’t recognize the number now). I still don’t really know why we need all these apps and what they are for. I’m resisting the modern world and I am quite happy because of it! Fight the brave fight! 😉

  28. “I mean, sure, if each time you picked up your phone, an old fashioned telephone booth appeared around you, to give you privacy, then why not? But I have not seen an app for that yet.”

    Whoever invents this will have the undying thanks of the masses for eternity! Especially when waiting in line at the post office or market. Arghh!

    I have a dumb phone and I am happy as a clam: talk and text only. I leave it in my purse when I go out and forget to take it out until night when I use the alarm feature. Friends and family know I work at home and am always close to my laptop, so they know the best way to contact me is by email. I take my camera with me when I go out hiking or on day trips and upload when I get home. I love my pace of life. I turn on and turn at my will.

    So pay off those loans instead. And once in awhile buy some chicken treats for Butterfly 🙂

  29. I have both an iPhone and an iPad. The phone in particular is a constant distraction such that at times you have to leave it home or in a different room. But I also have a 13-year-old son and testing is his main mode of communication. It also helps me figure out where he is. I have gotten used to reading certain things on the iPad, mostly news. I read a newspaper in the morning on the iPad and get several emailed newsletters from different publications. Two things that I have avoided doing digitally is reading books and watching movies, which I much prefer to do in theaters. I admire your ability to hold out.

    • If I had children, I’d have a smartphone with gps surgically attached to my arm. I am very lucky that my dogs don’t know how to open doors on their own, and will never be tall enough to drive cars.

  30. Love it! So true! I have an iPhone and small iPad! They are useful but I love it when we go somewhere with no signal!

  31. Hilarious!!! I LOVED this one!!
    I have a cell phone that is equipped with caller ID, and it turns out there is no one I feel like talking to so I hit Dismiss and move on.Since that’s how I feel, I usually don’t bother taking it with me unless Pretty forces me to so that I can call her if I need her help to rescue me from a fall when I take the dogs to the park.
    Charly would be be interested in Smell-agram, but Spike would be more concerned about a Squirrel-Alert system. Sigh. You can’t have everything.

  32. They’re marvellous things, but it’s important to leave time to think. If your first reaction to any significant event is to post about it, you haven’t thought much. If something happens while you’re out that you think your significant other would want to hear about, why not wait till you’re home and can talk about it? You’ll have considered it more.

  33. All the sounds the iphone makes giving alerts for everything from emails to facebook posts drove me crazy when I first got one, but luckily you can go into the settings and turn all those sounds off.

  34. hairytoegardener

    That last photo of your dog is awesome! It should be made into a poster.

    When I read your post for the first time, I felt like you were speaking a little bit for me.

    I only have a landline, and it’s completely by choice. I support those who have cell phones but don’t want one and believe me, there is peer-pressure from all sides to get one.

    When I’m shopping, driving, gardening, taking a walk, seeing my doctor, etc., I don’t want to answer a phone. I don’t want to multi-task. I want to do what I’m doing. If we’re talking face-to-face, my full attention will be on you and not on the phone in my hand. If we do need to talk on the phone, I will give you my full and undivided attention at home on my phone.

    I’ve never left my landline in the movie theater. I never have to replace its battery. It never drops a call. It never gets wet so that I have to replace it. I’ve never had to buy a new phone because the technology on the phone was TOO old or the phone was worn out. Best of all, I pay $51.00/year for my phone and Internet combined, and my long distance is free. I like that.

    I honestly don’t understand people who will ONLY text, who will not listen to their voicemails, or who won’t even set up a voicemail box, but of course that is their right. I know I won’t change them, and i don’t intend to.

  35. Reading this on my iPhone. 🙂

  36. I’m with you, I find cell phones to be annoying and intrusive. I’m typing this on the “big computer”, as my clumsy fingers don’t navigate the Iphone keyboard well.
    Love the incorporation of your dogs into the post. I’ve always said the daily walk is the “information superhighway” for dogs.

  37. The thought of cataloging smells and sending them to her sister. So funny.

    But do keep in mind that even if you were to get a smart phone or iPad YOU are still in charge and you don’t have to answer it right away. It can still wait, but you have the OPTION of doing it right away. But you still have the power. And anyone that has your number and is calling or texting you should know you well enough to know you will get to it when you get to it.

  38. Funny you should say that Rachel , my sister often complains to me that I don’t answer my cell phone. Carry it around , no I need to do what I want to without having to tell of my every move. Loved the post , and oh those gorgeous Doggie pictures.

  39. I couldn’t get by without my Android smartphone, but I appreciate unplugging from the world sometimes.

  40. Butterfly is an old soul. Listen to her wise advice. There is a difference between need and want. Butterfly says happy dogs need chicken treats.

  41. So totally agree! The world is too much with us and we shouldn’t, we feel, be at its beck and call. Pip and the boys

  42. Love your words. Cricket is a star!

  43. Greetings Rachel!
    Marvelous post! I’m a bit of a tech freak and an Apple devotee. I still have an older Dell laptop which runs Win but it’s more of a storage unit which I rarely turn on. I have a Mac Pro 13″ which I love for its portability. I had an iPhone 5S and wanted to hold out till fall 2017 as it will be the 10th anniversary of the iPhone so I’m anticipating something hot. Alas my 5S died so I bought an iPhone7. I was going to get the 7Plus because the duel camera was truly phenomenal. As a hiker and snowshoer it is much more convenient for me to carry a smart phone for taking photos as opposed to a separate camera. Even photos of mountain ranges turn out very well. Alas I decided against it – for now. It is the first time Apple has used a duel camera system so I wanted to wait and see what the reviews were and so far everyone loves it. My daughter is due to upgrade and since she only uses her iPhone 5S to play a game or Facebook ,when the new one comes out I’ll get one and transfer my 7 to her. I have an iPad mini but didn’t get it with cellular. In all honesty, 50% of the time I feel the mini was a a waste.
    Having said all that, 90% of the time my iPhone is muted plus I have notifications disabled. I don’t like talking on the phone and despise the distracting bips and bops from various apps. I have it for MY convenience as the Maps and camera features alone are wonderful. I love having Google at my fingertips as I’m one of those people who have random questions pop in my head. I actually started this response on Tuesday and in the interim this article can out:

    Also, if you do wind up getting an iPhone of any type, I highly recommend you get sufficient ram. My 5S only had 16GB and I would be in the middle of taking a photo or video and would get a notification that I was out of space. Grrrr. So when I purchased the iPhone 7 I bought one with 128GB and it’s like manna from heaven. I’m not a gamer and don’t keep a large number of apps but I like having the space.
    As for battery charging, with my 5S I used a Mophie case which is a case with a built in battery. When your iPhone gets low you simply flick a button and the battery in the Mophie case kicks in. Mine was a juice pack air in a lovely cranberry color as opposed to a tomato type red. When the iPhone 7’s came out Mophie didn’t have their cases ready but they are now.

    Since the Mophies weren’t available I bought a non-bullky black Otterbox case and might just stick with it as the Mophie case is expensive.
    If you do get a smartphone, I highly suggest you get a glass screen protector such as Zagg (they have a great warranty). I dropped my iPhone 5S from my ear. It landed face down in an asphalt parking lot. The screen protector looked like a spiders web but when it was removed the screen was pristine.

    Good luck!

    PS: Since I’ve been sleeping in the great room with Sasha since she lost her vision in April, I play a doggy playlist (classical for dogs) on low during the night. When she first went blind when the house settled at night she became mammy so I implemented a “night night” ritual. She’d get a piece of string cheese and I would turn the playlist on. Took two nights but she associated it with sleep. Still doing it (probably for me). The sound is so much nicer on the 7 than the 5S.

  44. Cricket is the cutest dog. I have one of those tile GPS things on my dog’s collar. It is more for me to find her than for her to find me. However, it does work in reverse and she could find me — or at least my phone — but she would have to learn how to press it to activate it, which isn’t likely to happen.

  45. I’m amazed at the way people seem to be happy to discuss absolutely anything in the loudest of voices on the phone. Either they are in a complete solipsistic bubble or the idea of privacy has died. A male friend of mine was on the train sitting next to a man who was having a lovey-dovey conversation on the phone and at the end he said, “love you….love you…love you” and my friend leaned over and said, “But we’ve only just met”. (Fortunately the man saw the funny side and didn’t bash him up on the spot, as could easily have happened.)

  46. I went through a similar experience last year when my phone of 4 years died. Wht a stressful time! In the end I chose a relatively simple phone that works just fine and use my tablet for everything else. I still struggle with being diverted by texts or messages when i want to write.

  47. Wonderful and entertaining post! Thank you


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