November 22, 2009

Cell Phones

To be happy in this world, first you need a cell phone and then you need an airplane. Then you're truly wireless. -Ted Turner

I still have my bad days when I think I'm not getting everything I deserve. But those pass quickly once my Mother gets on the phone and says, 'listen, we used to eat rocks and walk 80 miles a day to school. -Bonnie Hunt

It's hard to imagine that the moment I transcribe all of this mess that's about to come, my thoughts will be outdated. In truth, they already are, in terms of the subject. It's 2009 and I have a flip phone. It's sleek, made of titanium, with camera and music functions, but clearly not comparable to touch screen phones. Now that the iPhone is in its number more than one generation, more companies are fighting to compete with a market now dominated by everything Apple. I'm considering joining in as well, letting Apple ride me like a cash cow, despite the fact that I really don't use my phone for anything other than talking and texting.

At a certain point, someone will look at this and wonder what the hell I'm going on about. "Cell phones? Touch screen? Music, pictures? iPhone? Pah, how primitive!" they'll say while reading this particular entry on a particle visor screen projected from a bluetooth like attachment wrapped around their ear. How did the world ever get along without a particle screen phone?

Actually, I can answer that.

I was born before the rise of the cell phone, the true rise, anyway. I remember bag phones, my family had one of them, and we stuck it in our van. I don't remember it ever being used, and perhaps that was why it wasn't considered a big deal. I remember watching Hook with Robin Williams as Peter Panning ran around with his cell phone ignoring his family, one of the first to make a connection to the negativity surrounding wireless communication. I remember receiving a similar type of phone in middle school. And while I remember having a phone upgrade in high school (this one had Tetris!), I still remember how important and awesome it was to have your own phone and phone line in your bedroom. Even better if your parents let you have three way calling (or what we usually called "a party line") so you could chat up two of your best friends about boys and your favorite songs.

I remember spending a lot of time on the phone in high school, considerably more than I do now. Though it's arguable that I'm more addicted to my phone than ever before.

See, with land phones, you couldn't take them with you. Ever. Well, you could, but they wouldn't work since they needed to be plugged in and all. Cell phones? I can't leave home without my cell phone. It's made a little outline on all of my jean pockets and always set to vibrate in some capacity when I wear it in said pocket. Missing a communication is unacceptable, and I went through a period of weaning and mourning when I realized that my office clothes weren't cell phone friendly. I used to frequently check my phone stuck unceremoniously in my purse (I did make it a nice little nerd related cover in hopes of appeasing it), I like to think that occurred out of habit and perhaps comfort. I reached an eventual plateau of uncaring-- until my friends started calling me multiple times during my work day to make plans and demanding why I haven't gotten back to them about said plans, and that threw my plateau all out of sorts.

On the few occassions I leave without my phone, I feel uneasy and a bit afraid. What if I'm mugged? I can't call for help. What if my parents call me? What if someone texts me? What if someone calls trying to make plans for tonight? I'm equally as neurotic when my phone is on the verge of dying. My phone has become my lifeline in terms of communication that, in this day and age, I find rather personal. I find it more thoughtful to text a friend then write them an email. In truth, the email requires more thought, but the text is so instantaneous that it conveys they're a seamless part of my ever busy day.

And have I become busy lately. I thought I was busy in college, adulthood has proven me wrong. But let me do say, after all of that talk of phone dependency, that I love seeing and being with my friends more than a phone call or a text. The reason I communicate with at such frequency is due to our inability to connect on a physical level, not necessarily out of habit and comfort of distance. I miss people, so I text them. If I really miss them, I call them. And when I really, really miss them, I call them in demand of being let into their apartment complex.

People are not wrong in their fears of a society where face to face communication becomes obsolete; where social skills are left to the wayside and people are not longer able to connect to each other verbally. But I have faith that for every person so absorbed in their singularity, there is another person like me invading their physical space.


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