In this day and age we are all constantly on our phones and our favorite technological device. I could never have imagined as a child that I would be able to carry a phone that would fit into my pocket with me wherever I went and have the instantaneous ability to talk or write to anyone anywhere in the world.
I grew up in the times where we had landlines only. Which I recently had to explain to my grandkids. That was hard enough to explain, but then I tried to explain to them that we had a party line; their minds could not comprehend this concept. Does anyone else remember party lines?
Party lines were very common especially in rural areas. Basically you had to share a phone line with your neighbor, in my case, three of my neighbors. This meant if someone called you, your phone would ring as well as the phones at the neighbors houses.
Party lines meant there was no privacy to the person on the phone. If you were conversing with a friend, anyone on your party line could pick up their telephone and listen in, which as a kid all the time as a game.
Having a party line meant your phone could be busy, even if you were not talking on it. If someone on your party line was talking on their phone, and someone tried to call you, they would get a busy signal. If anyone on your party line was using their phone, no one else on the line could make a call.
It was always an adventure to see if the phone was free. I recall many nights trying to talk to my friends when the nice old lady next door would pick up the phone and yell at us for being on the phone for too long.
It wasn’t until the mid 80s that my family got a private line. We were so excited. It wasn’t long after we got our private line when my parents saved up money and got an answering machine. Finally we had a way to know who and when they called, and were able to prompt them to leave us a message … think of it as a primitive voicemail.
Technology has come a long way. We no longer have to wait to use a phone. We no longer have to miss calls. We carry the ability in the palm of our hand to reach out and speak to anyone with a phone number in the world.
While all of this is great and makes life easier, sometimes it feels like it is a hindrance to personal relationships and connections.
Even though I understand and enjoy today’s technology, I am never without my phone. However, when I am spending time with the people in my life, I put my phone upside down and give you my full attention.
If I am choosing to spend time with you, I want to do just that. I want to put the phone down and connect with you.
As a people watcher, I have noticed this standard is not the norm. When I am in public, I see so many people hanging out, having family time, or even on dates, who can not seem to look away from their phones to try to connect with the person or people they are with.
There have even been times when I have been out with a group of friends and they will be texting me from across the table.
Why is this a thing? It makes me want to yell at them, ‘I’m right here!’ But I don’t. I will just stare intently at them until I make them so uncomfortable they ask me what is wrong.
Technology, especially with communication, has come a long way, but some days I just want to sit down next to someone I enjoy talking with and talk.
My 10-year-old stepdaughter and grandkids would call me old school or probably just old, but I appreciate the art of a conversation and know there wasn’t a time when being able to communicate with someone was as easy as just reaching in your pocket for a device.