A Phone's Purpose...

Everyone's got a phone, right?  I'm not talking about those clunky things that used to hang on the kitchen wall and ring.  (I still have one of those; and I'm NOT giving it up.)  I'm talking about cell/mobile ones that seem to be attached to everyone's hand (or pocket or purse or...). We’ve all got them, right?  Some of us even have two (one personal, one for work)!  We can't live without them! (Well, yes we can but...)  We NEED our phones.

I'm not going to disparage phones.  God knows I LOVE my cell phone (the dusty pink Moto which was the best buy for the winter:  https://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2018/02/random-thoughts-for-groundhog-day.html).  But I think we've forgotten what the purpose of a phone is.

The phone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell as a means of communication, but there had been other forms prior to that.  Is there anyone out there who is old enough to remember the telegram?  Bell's invention (which he received a patent for in May of 1876) was to transmit a HUMAN VOICE.

Phones are meant to transmit human voices.  Phones were invented so that we could TALK to each other even if we weren't in the same room, house, city, state, or even country.  The purpose of a phone, ANY phone is so that you can TALK to someone.

Texting is nice.  Having a cell phone that will guide you through a neighborhood with GPS is great.  Being able to listen to your favorite music is a plus.  Playing your favorite game is a perk.  Checking email seems to be necessary, but...

The purpose of a phone is so that you can TALK to someone.

The days of operators, party lines, pay phones and long distance charges may be gone.  Rotary phone?  What is that?  Answering service or answering machine?  How passé.  What the heck are yellow pages and why are they yellow?  Picking up?  Hanging up? Do these terms mean anything anymore?

A phone's purpose is so that YOU can talk to another human being. 

It's why when my son went to middle school in the center of town and the walk home was about a mile (uphill) that I purchased a (no so fantastic) phone for him and added him to my "phone plan."  It was a way to communicate with him.  Not while he was at school, of course!  The phone was safe in a locker and turned off until he left.  When he headed home he could call.  Or if he was going to be late he could call.  If he went out with friends to play on the weekends, I no longer had to go up and down the block and call for him.  I could just dial.

But my son, and I suspect many of his generation (and a generation ahead and behind him) don't see phones as phones.  They see them as portable computing devices.  And they ARE that.  I don't argue that point.   However, I purchased a phone and I expected it to be used PRIMARILY as a device for people to talk to each other.  My son didn't see it that way.  As a matter of fact, when asked to call a friend (who didn't have a cell phone!  How shocking!) by dialing the number of that friend's (family's) land line, he refused.  He is happy to text his grandmother, but reluctant to call.  He doesn't know his cell phone number (to be honest, neither do I!).  Thankfully, he DOES know (and has remembered) our home phone number.  (Which I am proud to say his been in our family since a phone was installed...I don't know exactly when that was but I can say with confidence that it was in the first half of the last century.) 

I've been thinking about all this with sadness. While I don't begrudge anyone a cell phone and I do appreciate the technology, I DO mourn the passing of a phone's purpose.  That it is too easy to text and not talk.  Do I come off sounding like a cranky old lady when I say I miss picking up a physical handset and dialing (really dialing) just seven digits?

Well, I am a cranky old lady (just as my tween son) and just to prove it I'm going to plug in that old rotary phone that we have hidden away (and unplugged) and make my son use it this weekend.  Maybe (however unlikely) then he'll come to understand and appreciate the true purpose of a phone.


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