A phone used to be a phone and nothing more — except for maybe a paperweight.
Now our "phones" are multi-taskers of the unlimited kind. Well, unless you go over your allotted data plan, but you know what I mean.
That's why I'm petitioning to change the name of cell phones. They shouldn't be called phones at all. I barely use mine as a phone. Talking on the phone is so blasé, so last century.
Plus it takes time. Instead of going through the excruciatingly laborious process of carrying on a conversation, we can now type the conversation with our thumbs on a tiny onscreen keyboard. Why talk with you can type? Typing is so much faster.
Communicating via text message or email is only the tip of the usefulness iceberg. I have a compass at my beck-and-call. Compasses are valuable tools for people who get lost easily. This describes me to a tee. I may not have an internal compass, but my phone does. I can hardly remember how I survived, life before compass.
Then there's the built-in locater that can help you find yourself, or your phone should you lose either. You can even track the location of your kids or spouse, not that anyone would find that useful.
Let's get serious — about Siri. She is everyone's best friend. In fact, she's better than a real-life best friend because you can turn her off anytime you desire. If you're tired of Siri or sick of her advice, just turn her off. And when you decide you need her to dial your phone or locate the nearest Starbucks, she's as friendly and chipper as always. She never holds your turning her off against you. Everyone needs a sidekick like Siri.
And, she (or he if you've got a male Siri) even has a sense of humor. If you want to see for yourself tell her, "I've got a little silhouetto of a man." Just do it. I promise you genuine rhapsody. For an encore, say, "knock, knock." I got a chuckle out of her response to that one. Siri's a real comedian, for someone who refuses to tell jokes.
Back to the multitudinous multi-tasking of the smartness we carry in our pockets. I used to use a digital camera, have my pictures printed on real paper and then put them in a photo album. I wore a watch to tell the time, but kept a separate stopwatch for races and breath-holding contests. I kept my calendar planner (book-style) close at hand. When it was time to balance the checkbook I hauled out the calculator. Banking business involved a visit to the bank. Shopping involved a credit card or cash.
When I needed to check the weather, I watched the news or looked outside. If I wanted to make a grocery list or jot down an idea for a column, I wrote it on paper, in a notebook. Monopoly and Scrabble were kept in cardboard boxes in the cupboard. When I played solitaire I used 52 cards. My flashlight was forever running out of batteries. Now it's always charged and ready to go.
Music playlists, which we called records, were kept on cassette tapes, and later, CDs. We used to own a video camera that must have weighed at least 20 pounds. It cost as much (if not more) than an average state-of-the-art smartphone.
Our phones have become lifelines to, well, life. They connect us to the world, providing tools for communication, information, illumination, dictation, location, planning vacation and so much more. They've become more than phones and deserve a name befitting their status. I propose iEverything, because that's what they do.
I've even used mine as a paperweight in a pinch.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.