Thursday, April 16, 2015

Life With/ Life Without: Cell Phones

Yes, I admit, I am a bit of a dinosaur. I can actually remember a time when cell phones weren't around, and we relied on people or our answering machines (complete with cassette tapes) to get us our messages or for the caller to try back when we were home. Being able to leave the house and not really mind that no one could reach you. And, in the event that something should go wrong, there were pay phones EVERYWHERE. They actually worked, too.

In the summer leading up to junior year, one of my friends actually carried a small cooler in addition to her purse. At least, it looked like a cooler. It was a huge cell phone and it's battery. She was required to take it with her by her parents, but she was under express orders to use it ONLY in an emergency, because the minutes cost more than a gallon of gas. 

Flash forward a few years, past the heyday of the pager, and cell phones were smaller, and lacked the bag. They were still pretty big, however. Coverage was still not the best, and calls were expensive even then. Most people that gave you their cell phone number usually gave instructions to only call them after a certain hour when the minutes were slightly less pricey. Not a whole lot of people carried them then, and they were still pretty much a status thing, or an emergency use type thing. People still had landlines.

By the end of the 1990's, there were pay as you go phones. They had shrunk slightly, and there usage had become quite a bit more prevalent. Triple A even had ones that you could rent or borrow (can't remember which) for lengthy road trips. I had a few of those. The minutes were still steep, but they were definitely coming down.

The 2000's brought on the advent of text messaging, and free mobile to mobile calling. By the end of the decade, there were unlimited plans and the onset of the smart phone. And it seemed that every year, the phones got smaller, more people had one, and the deals thrown out by the carriers seemed to get better. They did manage to gouge you good on overages, whether it was text, calls, or data.

Now, cell phones seem to be in the hands of all. There are debates as to how old is old enough to let your child(ren) carry one. Movies shown in the theaters remind you to not be a jerk and shut your ringer off before the show starts. I have a smart phone with all the data I could possibly need, unlimited talk and text, and it costs about the same as my last land line that wasn't bundled with my cable and internet. Not too shabby, considering that I can do a lot more with it than a land line.

The downside to the birth and evolution of the cell phone is that it sort of becomes a crutch, especially the smart phones. They hold our contacts, calendars, and damn near everything else.People go into panic mode if they can't reach you on your cell for a certain period of time. To "get away" from everything, you have to leave all of your information with your phone, because if you take it with you, you will cave to its siren song.

It is rare to find anyone who carries a cell phone with more than a number or two memorized. They loose their phone, they loose their mind, or so it would seem. I admit to being in the same predicament, hence my keeping of an actual, handwritten phone and address book. The same can be said about my calendar of choice; it backs up online, and I always carry a day planner of the pen and paper variety. Call me old fashioned if you will. I just know what it's like to experience a catastrophe with the phone, and prefer that moniker to the frustration of being empty headed, with my "brains" being stowed away in my smart but fallible phone.

It really isn't all bad. My smart phone has enabled me to keep wayward children occupied on errands. It has saved me from dying of complete and utter boredom for those appointments that run insanely long. Even with my not so smart phone, I have been saved many a lengthy hike when the vehicle that I was in decided it couldn't bear to continue on the journey. It has alerted me to a sick little one when they were at daycare. It has shown me just how much my friends care when I get my ass chewed for not answering for a period of time, whether it be that my phone was hidden by a well meaning kid, I'd crashed out for the night with the kids, or I was too busy brawling with a migraine.

All in all, like everything, there are pitfalls and perks. I think I'll keep mine, and wait for the inevitable query "Mommmmmm... but so-and-so at school has one, why can't I?" to begin.