Posted by: An American Expat | April 27, 2011

History of the Cell Phone-as seen by Liz Gould

The history of cellular phones:  by Liz Gould

Cellular phone are one thing that my generations has seen go from, “what’s a cellular phone?” to “only for emergency’s” to “who needs a land-line needed- we just use our cell.”

When I was about in sixth grade my mom got a cellular phone.  It was about five inches tall and about two and a half inches deep. If we wanted a signal we would have to pull out the plastic coated receiver.   I thought it was so cool.  Mom kept it hidden in the dashboard and we used it so infrequently that whenever my mom asked me to pull it out, I forgot we even had it.  Still, when I did get to use it (which were not always “emergencies”)  I felt privileged.

Fast forward a couple years and the “emergency” cellular phone dissipated and my parents each had their own cell phone.   Not many (if any), of my friends had one and seeing that it was such a new concept, I didn’t beg for one of my own.   That is until one fateful April day when my sister and I were driving back from a friends birthday party and got lost.  We were in the slumps of Winston-Salem, cigarette capital of the southern east coast.  In fact, the only way we ever got back home was because we got stopped at a drug point check, where many cars had been flagged and were having their trunks searched through.  In teary-eyed desperation I told the officer we were lost and I need to find my way home.  I prayed frantically as I followed his directions and drove through the dark ghetto streets.  And we finally made it back home, late. When I got out of the car and saw my parents I said, half crying and with a cracking voice, “I want my own cell phone.”  And I got one.

It was all the rage to be able to pull your cell phone out at the mall.  I would act as if I didn’t see anyone else, hold that device up to my ear, and talk loudly-just to make sure those around knew I was talking on my very own cell.  By college their were lots of us who had cell phones.  It wasn’t cool enough to just have one anymore.  We had to deck them out.  You could buy covers and faceplates, and let’s not forget the flashing battery backs.  Oh the memories!  My favorite was a sunflower faceplate with bright orange buttons.  I think I paid twenty dollars for the opportunity of flashing that around.  “Where is it now?”, you ask. Probably a land-fill somewhere.

Almost a decade later and now people can’t imagine life with our their beloved phone.  It has become our most trusted companion.  And we don’t even just talk on it- we text, check emails, buy movie tickets, listen to music, and browse the web.  Cell phones have come a long way.  And we have changed with them.  We no longer just feel special for being able to pull it out of the dashboard- We can’t put the things down.  Everywhere you go, you will see someone on the phone.  Consuming?  Not sure.

Sometimes I feel like joining the one percent of America who doesn’t own a cell phone.  It seems like a burned at times.  Yet, we don’t own a land-line and that does cause a “what would I do in case of an emergency?” attitude.  People don’t usually stop to help the girl with the emergency lights pulled off to the side of the road anymore.  Why?-because she has a cell phone and help is on their way.  Still the “make-life so much easier” aspect of the phone is too powerful for a complete abandonment to the thing.  After all, when I can’t find my way to a new friends house and am lost, I no longer have to count on an officer helping me find my way, I just call my hostess.  Cell phones have good points.

Yes, cell phones have changed and with them my generation.  We have become over-productive, overly networking social-yet face to face time is becoming less and less.  (Have you ever hung out with a teenager before, they spend half their time “with you”, on their phone. ) And along with the availability of the access to everyone we have become impatient when we can’t get a hold of them-trust me, I’m can relate to that one.

Cell phones have changed and us with them, but,  the question remains, “Was it for the better?”


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