Sunday, April 10, 2011

Profound...and distressing

Years ago, Alexander Graham Bell completed the first telephone call.  According to legend, and apparently backed up by first-person accounts, after he spilled some liquid, possibly acid, he yelled into his primitive receiver something like Watson.  Come here.  I need you.

His exact words aren't important, at least not now.  Apparently whatever he spilled got cleaned up and no one was the worse for it.  The important part was that Watson heard him, and telecommunication was born.

In the years that followed, the telephone did many things, but by far the most important was that it gave people more time.  They didn't need to write a letter and then post it.  They didn't need to delay decisions for days waiting for a response.  They didn't need to hop on a horse and go to town to communicate, or ride in a train or carriage or automobile to ask a simple question.

It is sometimes observed that nothing comes without a price, and although phone service cost money, that wasn't the true price.  The true price was a bill that remained unpaid, and the interest kept accruing.  Today, for far too many people, that bill has come due, and the total rivals the Federal debt!

Today, that early telephone, which has morphed into something far different, is collecting the bill...and the interest.  It is sucking every moment of your time, claiming hours you could have spent with friends, family, and society.  It has stolen your time to read and study.  It robs you of personal interaction, and replaces those hours with stupidity on a tiny screen.

Instead of taking your wife to a movie, you watch it by yourself, somehow convinced that trading the Big Screen for that little, itty bitty picture is a great deal.  Heck, you don't even get popcorn...although, just maybe, you have an App for that!

The worst part is the balance due on that bill hasn't gone down, and the interest keeps mounting.

Now, after you've used your phone to forward this to 11 of your friends, sent three tweets about it, and stopped to check your messages and email for the 97th time in the last hour, shut off your phone and discover the world around you.  Take...oh...at least ten minutes.  You'll be surprised what you've been missing during all the time your phone has claimed!

1 comment:

andi said...

I am eternally grateful to Bell for his invention and am never far from one.

But, for the record, today I have left my phone at home or in my car (while at the Dr, waiting a LONG time with no good magazines!) both times I have gone out today.

I do find that when the 4 of us are out, at a restaurant, waiting for our meal, there are at least 2 phones out, a DS as well, playing games instead of looking at each other, and talking. Thank you for this, I am going to make a conscious effort the next time we are together and have our gadgets out, I am going to put mine away and engage my family in conversation!

Surprisingly, my phone bills have gone down over time, thanks to digital phone/cable/internet packaging and unlimited cell phone plans!