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A Nation Obsessed Over 'Smart Phones'

I noticed something in today's USA business section (aka: "money") and thought it was yet another example of how obsessed people have become over all-things smart-phone.  Nearly half of the text / articles in that section of the newspaper had something to do with "smart phones" (ok, for those seriously keeping track, 47.7% of the column-inches of news text that day had something to do with these devices).  There was a story about the next network generation for mobile connectivity dubbed: 5G.  Another story about a Smart Phone "app" for exercise, and yet another related to parents buying kids their first car - and the need kids feel to stay connected.

The telecommunications industry initially called 'em "cellular phones" then "mobile phones" ... and for 35-yrs their popularity has grown steadily.  Louise & I were among the first in the county to have mobile phones - in the mid-80's I was working for Ameritech and loved to be able to take advantage of time on the road to conduct business and stay in touch with customers and my office.  The phone was "hard-wired" with some equipment stashed under my seat ... and a cute pig-tail antenna affixed to my trunk lid. If I was near a tower, the reception was awesome ... trouble was, in 1985 there were not a lot of towers & coverage in rural areas was weak.  If I was traveling the signal along the I-75 & US-23 corridors was strong - but it was common to lose calls when driving a few miles away from the highway.  Then there were these pesky and expensive "roaming" charges if the call originated from a non-Ameritech tower (as if the consumer had any choice) ... and back then you paid for incoming and out-going calls.  Fortunately the bulk of my calls were business-related and reimbursed. 

Louise got a mobile phone a few years later commonly known as a "bag-phone" because all the components were neatly stuck in something that resembled a gym-bag which was typically left in the trunk of her car.  The early phone was awkward to use at times, it still provided state-of-the-art service in emergency situations.  That was a nice feature - the sensation that you had the ability to reach out and call someone just about any time you wanted or needed.  And, at first it was a novelty & lots of fun to say: "guess where I'm calling from!"

Today, it seems, people are lost without their "smart phones".  No matter where folks may be, they have their device glued to their ear, endangering the rest of us while driving their car, or out for a meal with family in restaurants ... everywhere.  After retiring, Louise & I opted to avoid upgrading to "smart phones" opting instead for a simple & cheap emergency pay-as-you-go "TracFone" - we are among the dinosaurs who still use a "land-line" at home.  But increasingly we have minor troubles doing business with some entities.  The other day we needed to make some changes with our bank and they asked for our "smart phone number" to send us a code ... when we confessed that we didn't have one the banker looked at us like we had a 3rd eye on our foreheads or something ... repeating out loud in that incredulous tone: "you don't have a smart phone...?"  

[confession: astute, knowledgeable readers may know already - the above image of Mike is the product of Photoshop. The give-away?  Mike's '85 Volvo was a sedan, not a station wagon.]

home ~ originally posted 05.17.19