Out With The Old

It’s obvious that cell phones have changed the way that the world operates quite a bit. In business and personal lives, people are more reachable and more productive in places and times that they would not have been before.

But coming into the new, usually means changing or losing the old. The other day I was thinking of a list of things that have been altered or lost since cell phones became the norm. Things that might not be real obvious. (I won’t be including the “ability to drive well” as being lost…although it is true and accurate. I just want to be more specific.)

In no particular order:

1) We’ve lost the ability/purpose of remembering phone numbers. With a built in phonebook, less and less people remember any phone numbers at all. This becomes brutally obvious to us when we lose our cell phone and need to call someone.

2) We’ve lost the two most popular excuses for getting off a phone when we don’t want to talk to someone. “I can’t talk because I’m on the other line long distance.” and “I can’t talk because I’m just heading out the door.”

3) There is no real purpose to call and say goodbye before a trip. I have a friend who recently got a call from a lady out of state that said she “was just calling to say goodbye before she heads out to the East Coast.” What, they don’t have cell service in Maine? Do the lobsters confiscate your phone when you get off the plane? What’s the difference between calling from two states away and calling from 10 states away? Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to hear from friends before and during their trips. But just call to say hi from wherever you are.

4) No more pebbles to windows. Every young man is glad that they no longer have to sneak up to a house and throw pebbles to a girl’s window…hoping not to be heard by their father. Just call her cell from the car.

5) Overall, we’ve been stumbling on the ability to meet people in public places. Sitting at the DMV. Or riding on the bus. Or sitting in a fast food place. Or attending a convention. These used to be places you could meet new people and friends. Now it’s much more common that people will immediately turn to their cell phones instead of meeting those around them. In my opinion, we miss out on alot.

6) Short phone calls are less common. I actually like this one. you no longer have to call just to tell someone you’ll be there in five minutes. You don’t have to call to tell them the score of the game. Text messaging is so much easier. This morning I wanted to warn my family not to take the freeway because of a bad accident. I wrote one text message and sent it out to all of them.

7) For the most part, long distance charges is no longer a concern. (If it is a concern, then you’re getting a bad phone plan.) I was listening to a rap song from the mid 90′s and he said “I call you up long distance on the phone. But that ain’t nothing, it’s worth every bone” Besides being bad grammar and poor talent, the compliment would hold little weight today.

Those are the ones that I can think of right now. I’ll add more if I can think of them. Feel free to add more in the comments if I missed any.

9 Comments

  1. Richard Miller June 9, 2005

    Great post, Brian — well thought out. I guess we could also say that cell phones have caused us to lose some sanity and privacy. For extroverted types, this is great — we’re never alone — we can get on the phone with a friend any minute of any day. But some people might not like the fact, and everybody feels this way sometimes, that they don’t have alone time. If you always carry your phone and always leave it on, you’re almost on a leash. And the interruptions of phone calls can drive you nuts if you’re trying to buckle down and get something done. I guess we could always turn it off every once in a while. But I’m not going first.

  2. Stephanie June 9, 2005

    My two main problems with cell phones are that:
    1. It interrupts everything and people always seem to answer them no matter where they are and who they’re with. I think this is rude. When you’re in a restraunt or on a date or in a movie, there is no need to answer!
    2. Text messaging only adds to the problems. People will have conversations through texting and this not only causes confusion, but it’s a bad way to communicate. People are more confident saying things through texts and that can always cause a little drama :)

  3. Kelly June 9, 2005

    I think that Stephanie is trying to write that “politeness” may have been lost a little. (Since you were looking for things that were lost, not just complaints)

    Your first point is so true. I lost my cell phone and I was lost without the numbers. So now I have all the contacts backed up to my iPod. I guess I should do the old fashion thing and memorize the important ones.

    I liked Richard’s point as well.

  4. Richard Miller June 9, 2005

    I don’t know if I’m allowed to make two comments under the same post, but here are two articles from the creator of HowStuffWorks that had a lot to do with your comments on cell phones today:

    http://marshallbrain.blogspot.com/2005/06/hard-to-believe-but-true.html

    http://marshallbrain.blogspot.com/2005/06/silent-cell-phone.html

  5. Jamie June 11, 2005

    Oh man- I have experienced the lack of cell phone syndrome since I’ve been here in Europe for the last two months. At first I would imagine my cell phone vibrating in my purse or hearing it ring just to realize that I didn’t even have it on me. Talk about addiction! Though there are many problems with having them, being without it here has been more difficult than I thought. It’s impossible to meet up with someone after we’ve split up for the day, and the public telephones here are so greasy. I have to admit, I am somewhat excited to be leashed in once again.

  6. ROACHIE June 11, 2005

    I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO ADD, EXCEPT I AGREE! I’M TOTALLY THE KIND OF PERSON WHO WILL JUST IGNORE OR TURN OFF MY CELL PHONE ALL DAY. NOT BECAUSE I AM A RUDE PERSON AND I DON’T LIKE THE PERSON WHO IS CALLILNG, BUT SOMETIMES I DON’T WANT TO BE REACHABLE. I LOVE SILENCE AND CALMNESS, AND CELL PHONES HAVE DEFINITELY “LOST” THOSE THINGS FOR ME. BUT THEN SOMEBODY ALWAYS GETS MAD AT ME THAT THEY COULDN’T GET A HOLD OF ME, OR GET THEIR FEELINGS HURT THAT I DON’T ANSWER EVERYTIME THEY CALL. RRRRRR……

  7. Toby June 12, 2005

    Nice thinking Brian – are there even deeper changes that the cell-phone brings about? Maybe it changes our fundamental identity. It definitely means we have to be ready to adopt any of our roles – father, worker, lover etc. – at any time and anywhere. Does this change who we are and how we think of ourselves? One of Richard’s links talks about Korean kids being beside themselves when left without a mobile – like they’ve woken up with half their personality missing. I think a device this intimate, personalised and ubiquitous has affects on what we call the ‘self’.
    Anyone else have ideas on this?

  8. Richard Miller June 13, 2005

    Toby, I liked your ideas about having to wear any hat at a moment’s notice because of cell phones. I think that’s true, and I also think there are inefficiencies in switching roles so often. Every time we switch roles, it takes a few minutes to get our concentration back and get working again. That adds up to a lot of lost time.

  9. Lyle Kantrovich June 17, 2005

    People used to have to coordinate an exact meeting time and location ahead of time…now kids just go to the mall say “between 8 and 9″ and coordinate a time/place to meet via cell/text when they get there. Adults do similar things too, but the shift is more dramatic and observable in younger age groups…who have less of the old behaviors ingrained.

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