I’VE touched on this before, but now it shall get it’s own column. Can you think of any other invention, since the wheel or the George Foreman grill, that has changed our lives so significantly. We, and me especially, cannot go anywhere or do anything with out our phones in our hands. Think about all the things that we do now, with the phone, that we never dreamed of doing before. And then think about the things that we don’t do anymore, because the phone has taken over.
I’ll deal with that first. I remember the days when I could watch an entire football match, on teletext. I would sit there staring at the screen, occasionally glancing down at a book, waiting for a score to change. Nowadays if the game isn’t on telly, we’ll have alerts set up on our phone, or we’ll be able to check the score whilst scooting around Tesco. And staying with Teletext for a minute, the only games we played with a remote control before the phone came along was bamboozle on Channel 4’s teletext.
We had to work a lot harder for our enjoyment before the smart phone came along. If we wanted to sing a song properly we had to painstakingly take down all the lyrics whilst risking breakage to the pause button on the cassette/CD player. If we heard a song that we loved on the radio we had to sing it to people to try and get the name of it and then we had to order it from KG Discs and wait ‘until Friday’ before it arrived. The lingerie section of a Kay’s catalogue was the closest thing we had to porn, but we made do! We were made to work for the pleasures in our life, and they were all the better for it.
We knew absolutely everything there was to know about shampoo, mouthwash and toothpaste, because that’s all we had to read when we were on the toilet. And speaking of having things to read, what about the poor Encyclopaedia? Those poor bastards never saw their redundancies coming!
We rang people’s houses, praying that their parent’s wouldn’t answer. We had conversations on the house phone and dragged the wire to almost snapping point so we could lock ourselves in a room for a bit of privacy. We didn’t take pictures of absolutely every bloody thing!
This is a big one actually. In addition to pictures of our food and cats, everyone is now taking pictures of their…how shall I say…’private places’. This wasn’t something that was attempted before the smart phone, unless you were willing to get the film developed in the local chemist.
We met people in a way that is totally frowned upon in the age of the smart phone – we talked to strangers. “Would you like to go for a drink sometime?” “Christ no…” Well at least I gave it a go. Today, the equivalent is swiping left and right on a demon app called “Tinder”. Online dating was downright laughed at before the smart phone arrived. Now it’s somehow acceptable, and dare I say, normal.
Life was more genuine before the internet and it’s buddy the smart phone came along. People faded in and out of your life because that’s just the way it was supposed to be. Now they’re your ‘friend’ on Facebook and you can never get rid of them. I put that in inverted commas because your friends are the people that come to your funeral, not post a candle to your page and say how much of a legend you are.
Phones are great and all, and I know I’d feel like I had lost a limb if I had to go without mine, but it really has changed us all hasn’t it? Before, if you were having a blast of pints and were feeling worse for wear, there wasn’t a whole lot – outside of drunkenly breaking the law – that you could do to make your situation any worse. Now, with the smart phone in your hand, you can let out all those feelings that were never meant to see the light of day. That EX that you can’t seem to get over -I think she’d really love to hear from you at 3am. Send her an epic essay of a text about how there will never be another like her and how you should, five years later, maybe give it another go. Ya see, before the smartphone…before text messages, whatsapp and viber, there was no way that you were going to drunkenly stumble over to her front door and say this to her in person. And if you were to do that, maybe the relationship was worth another shot after all.
I love the phone – to say otherwise would be to tell lies. However, I hate the fact that my thousands of CDs are upstairs gathering dust now. I hate that my DVDs are in the process of suffering the same fate. I embrace advancement, but not at the risk of losing personal connections and the thrill that we derive from embarking on a real life adventure…even if that just involves talking to a stranger or writing a letter.