SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – I’m always amazed at how many mall locations are selling cell phones. Of course other stores carry clothing, jewelry, games, and pets, but the places that sell phones and accessories predominate, and I no longer wonder why. People are talking or texting on their phones virtually everywhere, and though I’m at a loss to understand this phenomenon, I have to admit a certain admiration for the users’ knowledge and skill. Sure, I also have a cell phone, but a bare bones one that can only make and receive calls, and which I hardly know how to use. Little kids call, text, access the Internet, and play games with those technological marvels while I have problems just turning mine on and off.
In fact, the only reason I have one at all is due to a mild heart attack that I had about 7 years ago. Not knowing if it would be a one-time occurrence or the first of several to follow, my wife suggested that I carry a phone in my car in case of an emergency, and I’ve had it there ever since. To keep it active I have to purchase a “Top-Up” card for $20 every 3 months which gives me that many minutes worth of calls, but since I never had another attack and almost never use it, I’ve accumulated $291 worth of phone time at this writing.
As I say, mine is not a Smart Phone but the dumbest and simplest phone you can get, just right for me and it’s never on, but a while ago my wife thought it would be a good idea to program our home phone number and her name into the thing so I’d only have to hit one button to automatically dial. It sounded reasonable so with much trial and error I figured out how to enter our phone number, but when trying to key in her name I ran into a brick wall. Her name begins with an “R” but that’s the 2nd letter on the phone button which starts with that letter “P.” No matter what I did I couldn’t advance to the 2nd letter so finally giving up, my wife’s name in my phone is spelled PTAW, none of the letters being correct. It really doesn’t matter since I’m not going to use it anyway unless an emergency arises in which case I’ll just dial 911 and wait for the cavalry to arrive. What the heck would my wife be able to do for me?
Seeing how others consider the phone such an indispensable commodity, it’s difficult to believe there was ever a time when a family had only one telephone which sat on a table or desk in the home. Since everyone now carries a phone it seems easier to envision people living without autos, TV sets, and computers, and it strikes me as funny that the freer and more independent our society becomes, the more folks feel a need to stay in constant contact though not actually face to face. Assuming this trend continues, how much longer can it be before people will be able to engage in simultaneous conversations with 3, 4, or any number of others. Just think of it, talking with several family members all at once who are scattered around the globe without having to leave the house of even getting dressed.
Of course I won’t have that luxury, being forced by technical incompetence to actually converse with people in their presence. What a tragedy.