I was again having a ponder about how life has changed over the years when I began considering how much the mobile phone has become an integral part of life for many… if not most… of us.
Twenty years ago the wife and I lived in Central London, however she worked in Croydon which for those who don’t know, lies just outside the main Metropolis. To get there she’d walk to the local tube station and catch the train out against the main flow of people who migrate *in* to the City to work each day. This gave her an easy run both ways. Because I wasn’t working, I used to latch the lead onto the dog and walk down to the station with her in the mornings, and again in the afternoons to meet her on her way home.
Sounds a simple life and it was… except on the odd occasions when she was delayed in work, missed the train, or there were problems on the track or at the station (either end). The result was chaos. Neither of us knew what was happening to the other and there was no way of us communicating to let each other know! 🙂
Ok it wasn’t a regular occurrence, but I did occasionally find myself waiting at the station for an hour not knowing whether to stay, go… or walk to another station. Quite frustrating. Occasionally she’d arrive at another station and simply go home because she’d have no idea whether I would be waiting… or would have gone home myself.
Not long after we arrived in Australia we accepted the need for a mobile was quite reasonable so bought one of the old Nokia ‘bricks’ and neither one of us has never been without one since.
The spread of the internet seems to have mirrored the penetration of the mobile phone into the lifestyle of everyone around us and now those little ‘extras’ that have been introduced over the years has simply enhanced the utility of mobile phone ownership to the extent that, for me at least, live without the phone has become almost unthinkable. I’ve become so used to being able to access the Internet to find information on any subject whatever that it’s become a way of life. Having that access spread to the phone was perhaps the single biggest improvement since the introduction of the phone itself.
For me the phone is no longer just a way of keeping touch by voice. Yes it is still used for speech… but making actual voice calls is becoming less and less important. Over the years snail mail (via postal services) has been abandoned, and even online I’m using the old ‘POP’ mail less and less and have moved to Google Mail. Because of this, and because the phone can access the internet, I can access my email via my phone.
Effectively this means the wife and kids and I can all email each other with essential but non-urgent information easily and quickly without having to distract ourselves from whatever task we’re doing. Keeping in touch has never been so easy. simple… and non-intrusive!
Strange though now to think back and recall how stressed we used to get when we were unable to contact each other when now I have a phone that works for voice calls, but is also a calendar, watch, alarm clock, camera, mobile radio, cinema, music player, address book, calculator diary, games player. It also carries business software such as a word processor and spreadsheet etc. Add in that it is also an access point for the Internet that apart from my email, also allows me to find things as diverse as current news, cricket scores, cinema times, or the weather and you can see just how far the technology has come.
The newest devices are now linking themselves to satellites which allows GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to let you know where you are at any point on the planet and help you find your way to any other point on the planet. This has its downside for people with ‘work’ phones because it can be programmed to report your position back to your employer which might not be such a good thing if you’ve nipped into the loca for a lunchtime pint! But still, for the rest of us it’s a boon. 🙂
Right now I can stand in an unfamiliar town square, take a photo with the camera, email it along with the address as found by the GPS to anyone I want to let them know where I am. I can even video my surroundings and send them *live* to someone else’s phone or to a computer.
Of course part of the reasoning behind this increase in functionality is the push for ‘convergence’ where one small device will carry out to some degree *all* the technological wants and needs of the current crop of technophiles. I’ve no idea how far this will go, but I suppose the extreme case has to be the implanting of devices internally with hard wired connections between system and brain. What a thought – literally! 🙂
I’m not claiming any of this is a good thing, after all as a species we managed well enough for a million years before all this arrived… and of course there is no conclusive evidence yet regarding whether the constant bombardment of wireless transmissions our brains receive at close quarters is harmful… nor am I suggesting it’s wholly bad. I’m just saying that as far as mobile communication devices are concerned I think we can honestly claim that “Fings *ain’t* what they used to be”! 😀