Cell phone: Friend or foe?


Having a smart phone has changed my life, but not necessarily for the better!

Remember before cell phones when we just had “land lines”? At first, it was a “party line” where we shared the phone access with a neighbor. Often I would pick up the phone to make a call, only to find that there was someone already on the other line. Either I would say, “Oh, I’m sorry!” and hang up, or quietly put the phone back on the receiver, hoping the other caller didn’t hear a thing. It was so annoying when they carried on long conversations and I wanted to use the phone, a typical teenage dilemma at the time.

It was a joy to be able to have a single line so my calls could be made uninterrupted. Even better was the fact that my parents purchased an extension for my bedroom. Many hours were spent on the phone chatting with friends, often stacking the phone receiver against a nearby pillow so it didn’t need to be held for so long while I talked. I was perfectly happy with that means of communication.

Cell phones were invented in the early 70s, a take off on military phones. They were big contraptions, about a foot long and weighing several pounds. In the early 80s, Motorola developed the DynaTAC at the mere cost of $3,995. I actually had a friend who purchased one even though he was not wealthy. He had a medical condition and wanted to have a portable phone in case of an emergency when driving. I gawked at it in awe, and knew I would never be able to afford one.

Of course, eventually the price came down and now everyone has a cell phone; but has it made our lives better? I am not sure it has.

Okay, it IS great to use Mapquest to find driving directions. When I was a young social worker, the street directory was my “go to” map. I was lucky to have worked with people who were blind because I needed one of their strong magnifiers to be able to find their addresses among the tiny, handwritten street names. My map book soon became torn and worn and I often found myself driving around the area of the address because the page was ripped and the exact location was missing. Sometimes I would find the place, sometimes not, but my mileage count was always higher than it should have been because of this. (“You only drove to North Kingstown, how could it be 98 miles round trip?” my supervisor would ask. “Because I got lost…” would be my answer.) Even though Mapquest occasionally gives wrong directions, it is much more accurate than using a map book. It is also funny how many younger Rhode Islanders do not have a clear perception of the geographical arrangement for the state. For example, I have coordinated a camp for children; one located in the southern part of the state, and, more recently, one in the far northern part of the state. When it was in the north, the counselors were clamoring to go to a certain beach we used to go to, even though it would have been about an hour’s drive. They had no concept that the beach was in the south and we were in the north, and would have found that out when they programmed the address into Mapquest.

My favorite thing to do on the cell phone is to play games. As a person without much patience, I will quickly start a game of solitaire during any “down time”, such as waiting in a long line at Dunkin Donuts. When I am waiting for an extended period of time and WiFi is available, Words with Friends is my favorite. I am currently playing 30 separate games with different friends, all in various states of completion. Because only one word is played at a time, the games can go on for weeks.

While lounging in my bubble bath at night, accompanied by my frozen strawberry daiquiri, (made with fresh strawberries by Hubby,) games to stimulate my mind are played, such as crossword puzzles and word puzzles. I also play the opposite type of games that do not require me to think hard, such as Candy Crush or Cookie Jam. It is very relaxing and the time just flies by as the water turns cold, the bubbles dissolve and my skin turns wrinkly, (MORE wrinkly than it usually is.) Sometimes I can stay in the bath for 2 hours.

Having driving directions and game apps are two of the positive things about having a smart phone, but it still has many drawbacks. Hmmmmm…let me think about it… T

o be continued next week!


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