Everything But the Phone…

I rarely think twice about calling my smartphone a phone. Though every once in a while, I pause, thinking about what exactly my phone has become. Sometimes it feels strange to call it a phone, when it seems to do everything except act like an actual phone!

What exactly am I carrying around in my pocket all day?

  • A news source
  • Internet connection with access to all kinds of resources
  • Communication (audio, visual, and written)
  • Music
  • Books (audio and electronic)
  • Podcasts
  • Movies
  • Camera
  • Banking
  • Shopping
  • Calendar and Organizing
  • And so much more!

No wonder we’re on our “phones” so much. They do everything for us. And we do everything on them. How did the humble phone transform into a pocket-sized device for everything, but still retain the same name? If I think back to the phone I grew up with the two things aren’t even comparable. My childhood phone had rotary dial. A short, curly cord came out of the base, literally tethering me to the device. It was heavy with a chunky receiver and only came in plain, solid colors. Soon push buttons replaced the rotary dial, then cordless capabilities. Eventually the phone became mobile, but how it morphed into the mini computers and cameras is somewhat astonishing.

Before I got my first smartphone, I couldn’t understand why people were on them so much. They are fascinating and distracting, but I didn’t realize how reliant we would be on them for everything. It must seem strange to children why adults on on their phones so much. For today’s kids “being on the phone” means something totally different than it did for me. As a kid, I spent hours on the phone chatting with my friends late into the night. Along with the rotary phones and new-age push-buttons, we also didn’t initially have things like “call-waiting”, where another call could break through. Or forward to voice mail. Instead, the person calling would get a busy signal. Nothing else. No other options existed to reach someone since we didn’t have email, social media, texting, or messaging. Somehow, we still managed to reach each other, make plans, hang out, and connect.

When we get the next generation of devices, which I’m sure will be implanted in our bodies or brains somehow, will we still call them phones? Or add “smart” to the front of whatever we call it?

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