Identity and the Discovery of the Smart Phone

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Our identity tells us who we are, what we value, and what we do with our time.   If you were making a business card for your retirement you might put an identity on it.  After all, for most of our working lives it’s what we did at work that stood in for our identity.  We’ll look at how to list attributes to come up with an identity you can put on your retirement card.

My favorite retiree, my husband, had a clear sense of identity before he got out of school.  His relationship with the world is that he makes technology work.  If it breaks, he fixes it.  If it’s unknown, he tames it.  If it’s new, he takes it apart and puts it back together.  (That last took some getting used to!)

So it may be a surprise that Dearest, the computer whiz and all-round technology

Identity and the smart phone

We live in East Overshoe, Back of Beyond.  There is no cell service on our side of the hill.  Our village has spotty signal at best.  We drive ten miles to catch the nearest tower, which is in the town where I work.  Our Internet service is beamed over the hill by radio.  Our receiver is in a tree. We do have WiFi unless the wind blows too hard.  So, not a good place to spend money on a smart phone.

However, Dearest has to put his mother’s affairs in order.  For that he often travels to his distant home town.  He wanted to cancel her expensive phone service, used only when he was there.  So, a relatively cheap smart phone.

When he first got it he spent three days trying to get it hooked up.  We could not authenticate from home so he was trying to log onto the cell provider’s website and then drive to the signal and connect the phone.  That didn’t work, but the other charms of the phone kept him happy till the store opened Monday.

It’s a friend.  It’s a companion.

With his new phone,  Dearest started plumbing the depths of its offerings.  He found out he could tell it to do things, even converse with it.  I started getting nervous till I found out it would not make meat loaf.

Then he found Google Store.  Broad vistas opened up before him.  Before long he had catalogued the place.  I drove up the driveway one evening to find him walking around the yard, phone held high like the Liberty Torch,  testing the limits of WiFi.  He’d already mapped the house.

Time to modify something.

The second weekend rolled around.  We went shopping.  Dearest had dictated the shopping list into the phone.  He mapped signals all the way to the store.  I hadn’t seen him this excited about a product in decades.

At this point Dearest decided he needed to make my old tablet receive text messages.  I almost refused, but remembered the Social Security Incident.  A couple of years ago, Social Security tried to make holders of online accounts log in and then use a text message to finish the process.  I could not do that on my side of the hill so I protested.  Evidently there were plenty of others so that idea died off.  Still, it’s a very good idea.  So I said yes.

Thus ensued a Sunday when nothing else happened.  Finally, after numerous trials, we hit on a way to set up and work my tablet as a text messager and even a  phone with its own number.  It only works in a WiFi environment, and that’s fine by me.  And now Dearest is back playing with his phone mostly contentedly.

Identity for the not so clear cut.

The idea for this comes from way back in the 1980s in a women’s studies class.  To find out more about your identity, make a list of attributes.  Attributes are words or phrases that describe what you do, who you connect with, what you value.  I will do a couple with five attributes.

Here’s Dearest.

1- Fixes broken technology

2- Studies running technology.

3- Modifies existing technology.

4- Uses technology whenever possible.

5- Devoted husband.

The first four you could guess from the above story.  I put in the fifth from prior knowledge.  Now we can do mine in short form.

1- Translator of ideas and languages.

2- Fiber crafter.

3- Wife.

4- Friend of animals.

5- Blogger

Mine is more varied.  I like variety.  Probably my central idea is about communication, on a variety of subjects.

Now, you can try it.  I did five attributes for the sake of space, but I could as easily have done ten on mine.  If five doesn’t do it for you, try more and see what patterns come out.

Women often have a list of relationships as attributes.  We are more likely to define ourselves in terms of our social connections than men are.  People are a big part of our world.  And that’s OK.  Being a great grandma is a hugely important thing to your grandkids and to you.

Changing identity

For those of us who derive identity from work, it’s time to start thinking about what else to put on the business card.  If you value giving back as a way to spend your newfound time, put that down and try volunteering in a way that satisfies you.  Pretty soon you may find that volunteer is in your top five.  Or maybe you want to take a master gardener course.  Do that and see what it’s like to add Master Gardener to your list.

I hope this is of use to you as you decide what to do with your retirement.

What’s your identity?  Has it changed much from your working one?







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