So, what did we do before mobile phones?
So, what DID we do before mobile phones?
I live in rural Cheshire where the people are outnumbered by the sheep and the Welsh aren’t welcome. Where an individual’s personal space is measured in acres. Where we communicate with our neighbours by “knocking on”, shouting across hedges, or posting notes through letter boxes.
But currently I am down in our great capital city and as I look out from the window of my black cab, childlike and awe-struck by famous statues and locations, bright lights and scantily dressed ladies (it is very hot down here), I am hit by the hustle and bustle on the streets; by the sheer volume of people; by the lack of sheep; and, by the fact that almost everyone seems to be lost in an inner space which is the world of the mobile phone.
Almost every man, woman and child is either clasping a mobile phone to their ear, gripping one between their chin and shoulder, talking Borg-like (to themselves) via a bluetooth device, or holding their smart phone before them like a Jedi’s lightsabre either texting or navigating via a map app or trying to find a restaurant via AroundMe (other applications do also exist…..).
Mobile phones are evolving faster than humanity. I believe that the age of the Terminator is upon us. The machines are taking over our lives. And, we should be very afraid…..
According to the statisticians (who they?) the average person (who they?) checks their mobile phone once every six and a half minutes or one hundred and fifty times every day – although to be fair, I have a twenty-year old nephew who is on a personal quest to ensure that that particular statistic is maintained. I would argue that he is probably off his phone only six and a half minutes in the hour.
Mobile phones have been with us for some forty years now. They have quickly evolved from the original one kilogramme brick that you used to shout at, Dom Joly style. But not everything has changed – the original mobile phone had a battery life of just thirty-five minutes which, coincidentally, is about the same as a modern-day iPhone ( 😉 ).
But now they are much more (although some would say less) than phones. They have become our clocks and watches. Our calendars and diaries. Our address books, alarms, cameras, music players and preferred method of communication – albeit via email, messaging or text rather than talking. They are our tracking devices, our SatNavs and can tell us how far we have walked and how many calories we have burned doing it. They are our social network. The mobile phone is the first thing we turn to in the morning and the last we look at before bed.
There are some 6.5 billion phones in use on our planet, and in the “developed world” there are 122 phones to every 100 people. That’s a lot of Angry Birds. That’s a lot of people having affairs or dealing drugs. Why would anyone want or need more than one phone unless they have something to hide? I’ve seen every episode of the Wire…..
And so it looks as if we are doomed. There is an ever-increasing plague of people talking too loudly, or disrupting our enjoyment of cinema. There will be an increasing number of irritating ringtones – it is not big and it is not clever. Children will increasingly be distracted at the dinner table and colleagues will be multi-tasking in meetings – playing Clash of Clans rather than concentrating on the topic in hand and the people in the room. And, I shudder to think what diseases these devices will spread given the statistics for using mobiles while on the toilet……
So, what were things like in the halcyon days before the mobile?
People used to plan – they told others where and when they would be. We had to remember people’s telephone numbers and addresses. We learnt routes or used a map. We left yellow sticky notes on fridges or colleagues PCs. We learnt spelling and grammar. We urinated in telephone boxes. And, arguments between family and friends went unresolved without the power of Google.
But above all, we talked to each other. We looked up and watched where we were going. And, all of our friends were real…….