April 1, 2013
You can never be sure of how society will move forward but I am glad that I most likely won’t be around to find out how the grandchildren will fare in a world that now seems to connect mainly by pushing little buttons on a plastic-metal box with a small coloured screen.
We are facing a friendless world with ‘face-book’ friends but with the chances of meeting in the real flesh diminishing as years go by. When did you last actually go outside to shop for a dress or box of veggies or was that done with the help of those little buttons as well?
I remember my parents were quick of the mark with being one of the first to have a telephone back in 1946 or so. It was a large black glimmering device bolted onto the floral wallpapered wall of our lounge room. This telephone would give off a loud ring and when telephoning someone it was done by a rotating disc with the numbers being large and clearly written on them. It was a gadget that would reassure us in its reliable functionality and simplicity. It was clearly a telephone.
The telephone book of Rotterdam then was very thin. Most just used to walk across the road or around the block to visit friends and family. We lived close by to family and friends. If not we would send a letter.
Now, the phone as a telephone has just about disappeared. I am driven beyond sanity when trying to have just a phone. The land-line is prohibitively expensive and now includes all sorts of extras that I don’t want. We now pay line rentals and GST (vat) plus options for complicated ‘menus of retrievals and voice banking.’ I just want what my parents had; a normal phone that has a reassuring ring. It was life affirming and did not give attacks of anxiety as phone calls seem to do now. They now seem to have a sense of dread and foreboding of possible grief and immense sadness.
I now just want a device that is called ‘mobile phone’ (or cell phone in the US). It is far from mobile as it seems to imprison more than liberate. Just look at the anxiety written all over those hapless souls on street corners or shopping malls, trains and busses. All tapping away or glued to this mobile phone. ‘I am going shopping to Aldi” I overheard one of those tappers saying.
I was so desperately pleading with one of those cell-phone franchises; “please can I just have a cell phone that is a phone”. Incredibility staring back at me with total incomprehension as an extra. “What do you mean?” “I mean a phone as a phone.” “I don’t normally have an urge to take a photo when I want to just telephone someone, nor do I have a burning need to listen to a radio or save messages, bank voice mail or retrieve last week’s riveting event at the shopping mall.” I also don’t normally play games such as chess, monopoly or want a weather report on the phone.”
“I sometimes just want to make a simple telephone call to my friend who is in hospital with a knee replacement.” “I don’t want messages of missed calls or reminders about credit,” nor send e-mail or want face-bookings with Russian sex Goddesses.
“Can’t you just sell me a phone that I can carry around?”
She, the franchise lady, smiled. “You are an old man and grump around that fact”. She could have said, but she didn’t. “Your parents despaired when the ball-point was invented and people started slurping Coke”. Did it ruin you, she continued? No, but that was different. We still did our tables and could write and spell. Now it is all “C U in 2 mnts, r u ok?” and the supermarket girl can’t figure out the cost of butter of $2. -, and give the change from $20. – without checking the electronic screen.
“You are still a curmudgeon and at the end of your miserable life”, she could also have added. (but didn’t)
It is true; I had some sad and unfortunate life changing experiences that you will experience as well. That is if you don’t get hit by a truck while sending text messages to your ring-nosed boyfriend in the meantime, I added smugly.
By now, the franchise girl became agitated and called the manager. He comes up; looks me over while rocking on his heels. “You sound as if you want one of our new models for the hard of hearing and blind”. “It also has a handy Velcro strap to put on your walking frame and a clip-on for the outside rim of a commode, (just in case of a bout of intestinal hurry). It comes with Galaxy Apps for the aged, he added with a smile. Gt fkd, C U at the Crmtrium, ashes to ashes. (I so wished…)
I just want a phone.