living smarter (?)

When it comes to technology, I’m a late adopter. My first smart phone was the iPhone 3 (second-hand from my aunty), and I had that for about five years before I replaced it. By that time, I think Apple had already released iPhone 6, and I really only upgraded because the screen was becoming less and less sensitive to touch.

As for other technology, I really only have my laptop (and the computer at my parents’ place). I’ve never owned an iPod, and I still listen to a normal radio (albeit one with a digital display). I don’t have a tablet device, fancy digital camera, e-reader, bluetooth speakers, or noise-cancelling headphones (although I have borrowed my sister’s headphones before — they’re great for long flights). And I certainly don’t have one of those smart home things (I don’t even know what they’re called).

I suppose I never considered high-tech gadgets to be essential to my life, and have never felt the need to upgrade a device if it was still in good working order (or at least had decent basic functionality).

In November last year, however, I bought a smart watch on a whim. It’s probably the biggest impulse buy I’ve ever had, although I’m not sure you’d still call it an “impulse buy” if I’d been thinking about getting one for a while. Well, I was more thinking about getting a basic fitness tracker — something with a simple display and reasonably basic functions — but a smart watch is kind of like that but with more functions (?)

Anyway, the main reason I ended up buying this watch was because it was part of a charity auction. That is, the item had been donated by a telecommunications company so that this charity could auction it off to raise money. What’s more, it was a silent auction, meaning that all you had to do to bid was write your name and bid amount on a sheet of paper. Whoever had the highest bid by the end of the night won the item.

As I said, I had considered getting a fitness tracker before, but I had put off getting one for a very long time because I was afraid I’d become too obsessed with the statistics from everything it measures. My other main deterrent was the thought of having another thing I need to charge on a regular basis — not just because it’s inconvenient but because of the very fact that it uses electricity.

Still, when I saw that the highest bid was only equivalent to the retail value of the watch, I thought it only right to put in a higher bid …with only about half an hour left before the auction closed. As luck would have it, no one put in a higher bid, and I went home with an Apple Watch that night.

I started using it the next day, and for a long time I felt as if it was too high tech for me. On its home screen, it can show me the date, day of the week, what the weather is like, what its battery percentage is, and how far I am from my movement/activity goals — all on one tiny screen. Oh, and the time — it tells me that too.

It tracks active kilojoules burnt, minutes of exercise, and how long I stand throughout the day. If I open the app, it will also tell me how many steps I’ve taken, how many kilometres I’ve covered, and how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed. From what I remember of the first few months, I did follow these numbers quite closely — I wanted to reach the targets every day. There was one night I just went up and down the stairs at home several times just so I could reach the kJ goal …and then I realised it had just passed midnight, so it didn’t count for that day anyway.

But I soon learnt to not obsess so much. As I’m writing this, I’m not wearing the watch. I try to have watch-free days now and then, or go back to my trusty old analogue watch. Sure, usually it’s on days that I’m mostly at home, not moving much, but pre-smart-watch, I never wore a watch at home anyway. And most nights I’ll leave the watch off after I shower.

Still, having a smart watch does have its benefits.

The main advantage, which some might consider a double-edged sword, is getting notifications. My watch is permanently on silent, but it will gently vibrate once or twice when I receive a message. Sometimes I will look at the message straightaway, but sometimes I just make a mental note to check my phone later, and carry on with what I was doing. If I’ve had no notifications on my watch, I know there’s no reason to pick up my phone.

I also like that I can reject and accept calls on the watch. The only time I’ve accepted a call on the watch was when my friend purposely called me because she wanted to test it out. The call quality was fine, but most of the calls I receive seem to be from unknown numbers, or at times that I’m unable to talk. At these times, instead of having to go find my phone (or letting it ring out because I can’t get to my phone) I can just reject the call from my watch.

On the other hand, I’ve been known to miss calls from people I know because my phone was in my bag or still on silent, or because I was in a noisy place and didn’t hear it ring. Not so easy to accidentally miss a call if a little watch is vibrating on your wrist though!

8 thoughts on “living smarter (?)

  1. “Not so easy to accidentally miss a call if a little watch is vibrating on your wrist though!”

    And therein is the reason why I’ll probably never have a smart watch. I don’t want to get phone calls so anything that makes me more aware of calls, and subsequently anxious about answering them, is not for me. I use technology to be creative and entertained, so any of the features that’d make me more productive and instantly engaged with people seem bothersome to me at this time. Perhaps I’m a bit contrary.

    • Each to their own, I suppose! For me, it’s also good because sometimes I’m “on-call” for work, and it makes me anxious wondering if they’ve called but I missed it. This puts my mind at ease 🙂

  2. You seem self-aware enough not to let something like this turn you into its slave! I’m with you on the idea of keeping things so long as they’re working properly and not feeling driven to upgrade or take on new technology just for the sake of it. I’m wary of much of it; I don’t need more things to obsess over or get over-stimulated by.

    • Yes, no need to jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else is! Still, I reckon sometimes you don’t realise how a thing can be helpful till you get it (although there are also plenty of things that make me think “people have lived without this before, and they were fine; we don’t need this”)

  3. You did mention that your watch has freed you from your phone somewhat. It’s interesting how it does not foster a compulsion to check every time if you feel something coming in. Still mulling over whether to upgrade my phone. I wore a Fitbit for a year and then decided it wasn’t doing anything to improve my life. I already know how to keep myself on track so it is now sitting at the bottom of a drawer.

    • It was reading your post that prompted me to finally get around to writing this post that I’d been contemplating for so long!

      I’m currently wondering if I can actually use this watch as a way to separate myself more from technology – kind of like how smokers trying to quit use nicotine replacement instead of going cold turkey…

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