I am running backward as fast as I can.

I am running backward as fast as I can.

Here I was, being a solid citizen, reading the paper. You know the newspaper, that mass of printed images and words on wide sheets of paper, such old, passé technology. I prefer to think of it as classic.

So I was reading the daily memo about life on planet Earth and there, on page J22, was a discovery right alongside powered flight and splitting the atom. There’s a smartphone app or two, it said, that will allow you yourself to go into a store, scan a bar code and find out if the product at hand is on sale for half the cost across town.

Eureka, I thought. At last, consumers will be spared the drive-and-decipher-and-dicker monotony that you endure if you want to save every last nickel. Instant info gives us the upper hand.

But if we’re being honest, it’s not really about saving every last nickel. It’s about assurance that you didn’t spend too much. You can always hear Grandma and Grandpa – their voices coming straight out of the Depression – reminding you to leave no stone unturned. Being from softer generation, we tend to hit a store or two, grab what seems like the right price and then spend our days with the dull ache of guilt and uncertainty – just not quite painful enough to mend our ways.

But this is America, where instant and miraculous solutions are never far off. And now we have these wondrous apps to save money and free us from dreaded guilt. Oh, thank you, newspaper, for digging out this liberating news. I, too, must spread the word.

Hey, I said to the first person I saw, there’s this cool app, and this other one, and what it does is ...

Yeah, I’ve got that one, he said. Cool stuff.

All right, maybe there’s someone more cutting-edge than I. Golly, I said to the second person, I just read about this app that ...

Oh yeah, the barcode thing, she said. I was using that the other day, and ...

Never mind.

Little is more deflating than having a revelation to share with the world, only to find that it’s really a revelation to exactly one person, yourself. Just go sit in the corner for a while.

I have not actually downloaded these apps yet. My smartphone is new, and I still haven’t read the book and fully come up to speed on the wondrous new world I’ve just purchased.

No, no, I’m methodical about these things. I’ll get out the owner’s manual – more ink on paper, how last century – and make sure I know how the innards of the thing work before I go app crazy and accidentally download the nation’s nuclear secrets or something that will triple my phone bill.

Of course, I also bought a $15 watch the other day, and it has buttons whose functions I can’t imagine, so I need to read that book too. And the dashboard of my newish car has a couple of lights that could be communicating something I probably need to know.

I can imagine nothing better than a quiet weekend curled up with a couple of good books, but this isn’t quite what I had in mind.