Inciter | CRC’s “Dumbphone” User
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CRC’s “Dumbphone” User

by Tracy Dusablon


Each CRC staff person is assigned a month in which to write a blog – this month it was my turn.

At first, I was wracking my brain to come up with something instructive, like in my colleague Sarah’s series Secrets from the Data Cave, or hip like Sheila’s post about Data Driven Detroit.

Instead, I decided to write about something  that sets me apart from my co-workers, and tell a little story about our office in the process.


The other day I was checking office voicemail online (we have an internet phone system) and came across this funny-looking icon. I noted how non-self-explanatory this icon was and, out of curiosity, asked a few co-workers if they knew what it meant. The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: “Hey, does anyone know what this ridiculous icon that looks like 110 camera film is?”

old film

Co-worker #1: “Seriously?……..That’s the international voicemail symbol – it’s been around for decades.” [Note: co-worker #1 is in her early 20’s]

Me: “Decades……. really?”

Co-worker #2: “Haha, co-worker #1, you haven’t even been around for decades! But yes, that is the voicemail icon.”

 Co-worker #1: “Well, it’s the only voicemail symbol I’ve seen in my entire life. It’s on EVERY cell phone”

 Me: “Well, it isn’t on mine. When I have a voicemail on my cell, it looks like a phone handset.”

 Co-worker #2: “No way, you have it – you just don’t know.”

 Me: “Call me and leave a voicemail…I’ll prove it to you.”

This conversation continued. Co-worker #1 called and left a message on my phone. Sure enough – no 110 film icon appeared; just an old-school phone handset (much to everyone’s shock and amusement). Another co-worker chimed in this time, looking over her shoulder and brushing away tears of laughter from her eyes……“OMG, I had your phone in like 1996!”

Admittedly, I’m the technology dinosaur in our office. I’m in my late 30’s and the proud owner of a “dumbphone”. I also stay away from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media that I know nothing about. I’ve faced my fair share of ridicule in the office because of this, but the voicemail conversation took the cake.

I’ve been asked, “In our work environment, how can you NOT have a smartphone?” My answer, most simply is….“I don’t want one. Well, not yet.” It’s not that getting a smartphone has not crossed my mind, but I’m ambivalent about it and I never considered owning one until I started working here over a year ago. So at this point, I’m weighing the pros and cons. Here is my list so far:


  • Email access anywhere, anytime.
  • Internet access anywhere, anytime
  • Capturing video and still photos of local Hampdenites sparring outside our office windows
  • Apps claiming to organize and simplify my life

Consphone screen

  • Email access anywhere, anytime
  • Cost
  • Learning curve
  • Having a phone dictate my life
  • Auto correct (I have nightmares about sending inappropriate emails to clients. With my luck, I’d have the next contribution to the website Damn You Auto Correct)


The cons still outweigh the pros for me right now; I’m just not ready for a smart phone quite yet. Plus, have you read the article recently published in Science[1] about people who would rather shock themselves than be without their phones or other devices? I’m not itching to jump on that bandwagon!

Anyway, I like to think I make out just fine without a smartphone. I’ve never missed a meeting, I meet my deadlines, and have a means for getting in touch with people and for people to get in touch with me. Everyone has their own style. Mine just might be a bit more old-school than others. I mean, really, I DO text!



(1) Source article: Wilson, T.D. et. Al., Science 4 July 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6192 pp. 75-77. 




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