I'm beginning to suspect my phone is more than smart. It's a smart aleck. A smarty pants. Some kind of know-it-all.
It does know it all, of course. I concede that. Inside that slender rectangle is all the information I might seek from now until kingdom come.
It can tell me what direction I'm traveling, what the weather is in Bangkok, how to make mayonnaise and what language is spoken in Swaziland.
That's all fine, and I don't begrudge it its knowledge. It can be smart; it can go on "Jeopardy!" and find all the Daily Doubles for all I care -- but it can't give me any more lip. Do you hear me, phone? You don't want me to start counting to five.
When I first bought a smartphone, I had the upper hand, or at least it let me think I did. The phone didn't make an uncalled-for peep. It often didn't make called-for peeps, either, but that wasn't nearly as annoying as the attitude my phone is giving me now.
Now it's as likely to suddenly speak up in a meeting as I am. More likely, if I'm being honest. Everyone will be gathered in the conference room, talking about recontextualizing our action plan, and suddenly -- "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that," my phone will say loudly.
Everyone around the table will titter while I snatch up the offending oblong and tap a lot of buttons. Instead of securing silence, I'll open a random video and we'll all hear Simon Cowell saying, "And who might you be?"
I'll hiss at the phone like a mother trying to stop her toddler from naming strangers' unfortunate physical traits. "Be quiet!" I'll tell it while those around me roll their eyes.
It's a wonder I've thus far managed to turn off my phone without smashing its screen against the side of my chair.
Lest you assume I'm a nitwit who never backs up my phone, who never does that housekeeping thing of flicking away apps that have piled up on my screen, who has no idea how much storage space I have left -- let me assure you I am that nitwit.
I have no idea how a carburetor works, either, but that doesn't prevent me from being a careful, competent driver who only today both navigated a busy collector street and memorized the license plate of the car behind me, the driver of which was swerving maniacally from the center line to the edge.
I forget the license plate now, unfortunately, but I had it down for several minutes.
But my phone and I have an understanding that I won't use it while I'm driving, hanging with my grandchildren or having dinner with friends, and it won't interrupt meetings and make me look like a person who has just been handed a live chicken.
At least, I thought we had an understanding. Apparently, my phone is like a 12-year-old daughter: One minute you're sitting around together, laughing uproariously at a video featuring a golden retriever and a bathtub, and the next, it's slamming its bedroom door and refusing to do simple chores.
Well, I won't put up with it. Phones are supposed to make life easier for users, and that means never suddenly playing "It's a Small World" in a quiet business environment. Bursting into "It's a world of laughter, a world of tears," at inopportune moments is a deliberate attempt by my phone to humiliate me in front of my peers, and just because it's succeeding, it needn't think it has won.
It hasn't, of course. I'm nothing if not a techno-savant. You should see me softening butter in the microwave, removing, emptying and replacing the Dyson container and knowing how to change channels with the TV remote. The phone should know better than to test my knowledge and my patience.
Still, it persists. It won't open, it won't load, it won't produce sound and, to top it off, it's always yelling at me. I haven't backed it up, turned it off, updated this and downloaded that. It tells me it can't find the internet signal, I don't have that app and I'm a seriously flawed person.
Weren't these phones supposed to make our lives easier? Weren't they supposed to improve communications, strengthen our friendships and put our careers on the fast track to success?
I suggest we rethink their usefulness in today's society.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.