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I’ll take ‘Smartphones’ for $400, Alex

Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013 12:04 p.m. CDT

My first cell phone was far from special, nor technologically advanced.

It was one of those little blue Nokias with an eerie green screen you buy off the shelf at Walmart or Target and have to pre-pay using overpriced minutes cards. I got it for Christmas the winter of my sophomore year of high school, years after many of my friends had successfully persuaded their parents for metallic pink Razr phones.

I quickly learned that minutes cards — or “units,” as Tracphone Wireless referred to them — went awfully fast when you spend your last waking minutes before bed texting friends meaningless and certainly not necessary messages. Thus, my phone was more often than not out of units, rendering it useless save for emergency phone calls.

It ended up not really mattering anyway, as I left that very phone wedged between an obnoxiously-patterned seat and the window of a charter bus to Ronald Reagan International Airport in Washington D.C. just months later.

My subsequent disconnect was my punishment, I suppose. I always ended up needing to borrow a friend’s phone when I forgot a sports bra for a volleyball match an hour from home (thanks, mom) or locked my keys in the trunk of my Intrepid (thanks, dad).

I really had no objection to this system until I found myself with a flat tire at 1 a.m. in rural Michigan with no one to call and nowhere to go. After my dad and my boyfriend hunted me down sitting in my car bawling and changed my tire, there was little question — we went cell phone shopping the next morning.

Since then, I’ve been through five phones: the first met its fate in the Four Seasons Fountain outside the Memorial Union on my second day on campus at ISU — the same day I managed to leave my room key, ID and debit card on a CyRide bus (I’m seeing a recurring theme here ... ). The second fell to its death off the hood of my car onto Lincoln Way in Ames — I found it an hour later along the curb in four different pieces.

I’m a lot more careful with my precious iPhone now, but it’s led to one particular problem I can’t seem to shake.

My name is Nicole Wiegand and I have a love affair with Google.

There, I said it.

Since I first laid my hands on a smartphone in 2011, I’ve had the Google search app at the tips of my fingers, always ready to settle a debate or look up some obscure fact. In fact, I Google everything.

You want to know who led the AL in stolen bases in 1994? You’re wondering how many more people live in Rhode Island than North Dakota? You’re curious as to when Hanson’s “MMMBop” was released? Well, let me just look that up for you. (in case you really are wondering, Kenny Lofton led the AL with 60 stolen bases in ‘94, approximately 350,000 more people live in Rhode Island than North Dakota and “MMMBop” came out in April of 1997.)

To further illustrate my point, some highlights from my current Google search history:

• what time does Chipotle close?

• what does acupuncture feel like?

• tilapia farms in Iowa, and

• pictures of narwhals

I have a decent handful of friend who roll their eyes the second mine light up with a new inquiry for Google. They might make fun of me, but I’m not ashamed.

The thing is, obsesssively searching for obscure facts lends me a unique advantage over my friends, evidenced by this single fact: since I procured my first smartphone, not a single one of them has beat me at Jeopardy.

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