Phone-less days

by | Sep 1, 2017 | Editorial

This is going to blow some minds, but back in the 70s and 80s, sometimes an entire day would go by and I would never speak to my parents unless it was in person. Sometimes I’d spend the day at the creek or in the woods or at a friend’s house without any communication with Mom until I got home after dark. Family members and friends would drive to Little Rock and we would never know if they made it safely until they were back from the trip.
I’m not that old, and I remember when we first had a phone installed in our home. I was six, I think. I also remember my parents’ discussion prior to. Pros and cons were weighed against each other. What about the cost, it was probably a buck fifty for the month, and what about long distance charges for calling family in the next county or (gasp) in another state? After the shiny, harvest yellow rotary was installed, we all just stared at it for a good part of the evening. I’m not sure we even knew anyone else’s phone number. How could we possibly know its descendants would one day rule our lives?
The phone quickly changed our social habits. Back then, the “drop-in” was a regular occurrence. Often, we never knew someone was coming to see us until they were there, and this was welcomed. It was, in fact, encouraged. But soon, visits lost their spontaneity. Get-togethers had to be planned out as free time mysteriously seemed to be disappearing.
My last phone cost more than $500 and I didn’t bat an eye about the price. There was no discussion with Christine or even with myself about it. No pros and cons list beyond memory and how many pixels in the camera (the definition of cameras and phones has changed dramatically in the last thirty year). A mobile phone is nearly a necessity in 2017.
My master is rarely beyond arm-reach nowadays. It’s usually in my pocket, and I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have some form of communication through it. The definition of “drop in” has been changed as well. You’d better send a text before calling. My phone says my schedule is tight, and I just don’t have time for impromptu chats.
Our mobile phones are a blessing, sure. We can do work from pretty much anywhere. But more and more I feel like we got a raw deal, like we’ve accepted convenience in exchange for something of far greater value that we can never get back. And that maybe what this world needs more than anything else is a few phone-less days.

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