Posted in Changes, Memory, technology

My Swiss Army….Phone

Recently I shopped for a new phone.  In the twenty plus short years, the mobile device that we carried like a bag in our car for making phone calls has morphed and become like a Swiss Army knife.

It was a Christmas present from my husband, my first cell telephone.  I can’t remember the year, but I can remember how excited I was to get it.  I hadn’t even considered getting one.  Its one feature: to make phone calls from where ever I was.  Picture a large receiver with a pullout antenna and a flip out mouth piece.  It awed me!

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Calling someone from my own traveling phone was pretty spectacular.  Of course, I had to punch in the phone numbers.  Most numbers I called were land lines and the only time I turned it on was when I was away from home.  I would have never considered actually using it while driving.

My second cell phone was years between that one.  I remember because I asked John to buy me a phone that wasn’t complicated.  I was intimidated by all the capabilities of the much smaller phone.  It actually did things besides just phoning.  By today’s standards, it was a dinosaur.  The “Roaming” term, we avoided on the phone because it would increase the phone bill.  There wasn’t a ‘data’ plan.

I remember when a camera was introduced on the phone.  That was awesome!  Texting…super wow!  We’d actually consider the keypad configuration when picking a phone.

The capabilities of cell phones seem to top themselves each time a new phone was introduced.  Simply calling from a distance, away from a land line, wasn’t the goal anymore.  We had to ‘connect’ in other ways.

Now it has so many tools!  Honestly, when I pick out a new phone the most important feature for me is the camera.  I’ll go straight for the camera settings to see what it can do.  The rest of the phone’s features is just icing on the cake.  I do consider the price.  I’ll go for the least expensive, best phone I can find…with a good camera!

Recently my mom had to have surgery and while waiting in the waiting room, I did what most people do . . . people watch.  There were families and friends visiting and then there were the readers.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in waiting rooms there are less magazines then there once were.  The culprit, I believe, is the phone.

Is it generational?  Maybe.  I’m not sure the younger generation who’ve grown up with phones as a source of entertainment, would consider picking up a newspaper or a magazine to read, when it is so much easier to search for a topic or hit an app to find an interest.

 

Technology changes our lives.  Once the printing press was a technological wonder.  I remember the first time I witnessed a microwave working.   How awesome it was to watch a taped movie at home.  However, I’m chasing rabbits because I know lots of people could out do me with the ‘Remember when.’  Back to phones!

Not too long ago, a younger teacher laughed when I called it a ‘telephone.’  I’m not sure when the ‘tele’ was dropped from the word.  It was good enough for Superman!  (Even that may be mythified and you can use your phone to research it).

 

Have you considered how many times your phone is touched because of the different uses it has?

It’s my calendar.  I add appointments, meetings, and party dates, times, and locations.  I don’t keep any kind of paper calendar anymore.  Once, I would have had a large calendar on my refrigerator to write on.  I’d take the time to pick one out at the end of the year with really pretty pictures to inspire me.  I’ve let that habit fade away.

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It’s my picture album.  No longer do I have to send off my film to be processed.  The only albums I have now are all the old ones before digital cameras were added to the phone. Some of the old pictures are grainy and have lost their original color tone.  Other photos are in picture boxes or baggies hidden in boxes in the closet.

Before the camera phone, if you are or knew the third, fourth, etc. child of a family, I bet there aren’t a lot of pictures taken of that child.  Parents simply didn’t have the time or energy to find a camera to preserve that child’s history in pictures (unlike the first or second child) unless it was a special occasion.  Not so of parents today.  I even ask Cam when he’s out doing something to send me a picture, so I can see a part of his life.

When Cam was a baby, we snapped away.  When the video camcorder became our norm, we didn’t drag out the camera.  We’d make home movies.  It was when he was a freshman that I realized I had hardly any photos of him between the age of nine and fourteen.  I think that’s about the time that cameras were the norm on cell phones.

The night John passed, Cam took out the phone and snapped a few pictures of John’s tattoo.  It wasn’t as easy to get the pictures off phones in 2007 as it is today, so somewhere that phone is put away with the pictures stored in the memory.  Today, I have thousands of pictures stored in my cloud.  Occasionally, I’ll go to Walgreens, plug my phone in to the picture maker, and print a few special prints to put in frames.

Home movies on discs, tapes, or film are a relic of the past.  No more video cameras to pull out, carry around, and shoot.  If you aren’t born in a time where the cell phone video has always been, you’ll remember how silent everyone would get when the video camera was introduced into the situation.

Afterward, we’d sit around our television and watch what was recorded and laugh.  I still love popping in an old VHS tapes and watching the home movies.  (Yes, I do have a VHS player).  Even more fun, loading the old 8mm film and watching the silent, laughing, silly people of yesteryear.  Part of my wedding reception was shot in super 8 by John’s dad.

Today, simply hold up the phone, tap, record, upload and share.  We can watch or send our videos out into the world instantly.  It’ll be interesting to see how the future generations judge our past videos.  Vacations, road trips, pets, nature, people, wild animals, silly stunts; we record it all!

Grandparents no longer have to wait for the mail to be delivered to receive a picture long distance.  Sharing has become as easy sending a picture across a message.  We post pictures on Facebook, Instagram  (I’m showing my age here because I haven’t learned how to use Snapchat) or some other social media.  Once a picture is uploaded, it’s fair game for whoever wants to share or capture it.  It no longer belongs to us personally.

Cameras…yes, they’re my favorite part of the phone besides using it to talk.  I adore taking vacation pictures and ‘selfies’ of my self on trips. I’m finding myself reminiscing as Facebook shows me “On This Day” from years past.

Then there are the everyday tools like the calculator, memo pad, address book (contacts), phone book, and whatever other type of tool you’d like to add.  I don’t keep a phone book around the house anymore.  I’ll just search for an address or a type of business I want and instantly hit the button for the phone to call that number.  Most of my friends numbers I couldn’t dial if needed because I don’t have their phone numbers memorized.  Funny, I can rattle off phone numbers of family members land lines or old places I worked because my fingers dialed them so often . . .  753-6496.  My favorite…663-1325.  Today, no one could answer.

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Recently, I went out with friends and their daughters.  The conversations that come up with a bunch of women are hilarious.  The phone was part of the entertainment and conversation.  We looked up urban slang and laughed loudly.  I’ll not go into what we looked up.  That’ll remain private!

We use them for banking, shopping, paying bills, and even sending money to our friends to pay our part of a tab.  My church has an app for tithing.  No longer do we need to carry cash, checks, or even a credit card.

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There are so many apps that make our life more dependent on our phone.  I do my bible devotions, read my email, check my security system, listen to music, plan road trips, check the weather, and keep count of my steps, to name just a few on one screen of my phone.  I don’t even wear a watch because I use my phone to keep track of the time.  It’s my alarm to get up. (Okay, its many alarms to wake up).   I can order food or a ride with just a simple tap.  Tapping….our way of life.

 

I use Google Maps to find my way.  Sometimes it is just across town to find a garage sale or while traveling on vacation.  Early on when it was new, I’d followed that GPS voice where ever she told me to turn.  I now know that she doesn’t always take me the best way, so I’ll ignore her directions to turn and follow my own instincts and make her reroute me.

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I teach my kids at school to read a real physical map for math.  I love their excitement when the Texas map is unfolded in all its glorious size and we use the population information and find the towns on the map.  For some children, it is the first time they touch an actual map because we use the digital one so often.

When Cameron was young, we’d give him a map in the back seat and have him ‘navigate’ us.  I remember driving with him in downtown Dallas when he was younger.  I was lost and he’d tell me where to turn.  Thankfully, we eventually did find our way to our destination with a lot of stress on my end.  He remained calm.

Gone are the days when we can escape from work and people.  It is a decision to ‘unplug.’  There’s areas where ‘reception’ is hard to get.  Mostly, we are reachable.  We compare and share our lives through social media and the phone makes it so that we can do it a dozen time each day.

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Parents today have it easier to contact children.  It makes me smile when I hear a parent call their dependent child to check ‘where’ they are.  In my generation and before, we totally could escape from our parents at least for a little while.  We’d use the line, “There wasn’t a phone or I didn’t have any money to call with.”  Once we were out of the house, we were only with the people we actually were with.  If we had ‘car trouble,’ on the road, we waited for help to stop.  Safety and security has improved with the carrying of the cell phone.

I’ll admit if I go more than four days without talking to my son in New York, I’ll make contact.  It may be a simple text or a phone call where we chat, but it makes my mom’s heart happier.  All those ‘crazy’ what if’s are put to rest.  It’s a ‘parent thing’ for you young ones if you haven’t developed that insane urge yet.

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I guess the funniest thing I notice about phones is how we ignore the people we are with to see what’s going on in other people’s lives.  I admit that I have done it too.  Checked my phone while I’m with other people.  I don’t know why we do it.  Do you?

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The phone isn’t used, just to ‘reach out and touch someone’ (You have to be older to get that one), but a significant tool that moves us along in our life.  So how many times a day do you touch your phone?

“Tele” over a distance.  “Phone” a speech sound.

It’s a wonderful invention that is progressing at an astounding rate.  Its initial use was for conversation.  Remember to use it for that also.  Call someone and invite them over.   Life is better when we actually ‘do life’ with other people.

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