It’s easy to forget how relatively new some technologies are and see how quickly people take for granted something that did not always exist. One of those things is the humble mobile phone. Around twenty years ago, no-one I know apart from my Father had one. Back then, it was something of a brick of a device and had the battery life of a brick in a toilet. Of course, that wasn’t too bad as much of the countryside was devoid of any signal that would let it work. At an extortionate cost to ring in or out, the payphone was still King. It was a better device, mind, than the mobile it replaced. That was only mobile by virtue of being permanently attached to his car. The chunky handset hid the fact that the glove compartment was full of electronics, and there was another box of tricks in the boot and an aerial on the rear of the roof.
I used to have twenty pence in change that was for ’emergency phoning’. Most children did. Payphones weren’t hard to find either; when I was in Durham there was a cluster of six in the market square alone, and others all within walking distance. Then of course the rise of the mobile phone came, and those awful little devices were soon starting to dictate people’s lives. Whereas before people could only ring you if you were by a landline, now they could mither you with crap all day. For the past few years I have detested my mobile, because of the sheer number of people who seem to think they can call it to ask inane questions about things that are not important and that I really don’t care about.
So yesterday, I wasn’t actually too bothered to find that I had accidentally left the damn think at home when on my way out to pay a work related visit to Daventry. Actually, it made the day rather pleasant. Suddenly there was no constant stream of mithering. No “can you give me a call when you reach Crick?”. No “can you call in and visit a customer in Market Dreighton?”. All of a sudden it was like working fifteen years ago, and it was just me and the radio and the open road. I quite liked it. Unfortunately I can’t get away with leaving my mobile behind every day (I wish I could) but it left me with a feeling that not all new technology is entirely welcomed by me. What was wrong with how we used to communicate? We learnt to ask all the important questions in one go rather than in dribbles throughout the day. We used our initiative rather than always having to phone home for a tinny little voice to spoon feed instructions on how to live our day.