As smartphones have become a constant companion for most people in the United States, landline phones are rapidly losing their relevance. In 2004, more than 90 percent of households in the U.S. had an operational landline phone – now it’s (significantly) less than 50 percent. That’s according to data provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which has been tracking phone ownership in the U.S. as a by-product of its biannual National Health Interview Survey since 2004.
I’m old enough that I remember a crank telephone with a party line. A what you say…..the receiver sat on top of a wooden box that had a crank on the side. You picked up the receiver, listened to see if anyone else was using the line, then turned the crank and told an operator what number you wanted her to connect you with. Sometimes if someone was using the line, and your mother wasn’t around to catch you, you listened to the two people talking while you waited your turn. We have a local museum that has one of the phones on display and my grandson is fascinated by it. At least he knows what it is.
I’m sure you have had a conversation with someone about what our great-great-grandparents would think were they to come back to life and see rockets, sports cars, televisions and super highways. Let’s add a telephone to that mix. According to the National Day of Calendar the patent for a telephone was awarded in 1876. That was a long time ago. It would be more than 100 years before a convenient mobile phone would be available, in the 1990’s.
Now think about the phone in your pocket or lying on the desk. It’s a gadget we can’t live without. We not only talk to people anywhere in the world, we can send texts, pictures, and videos (if you can figure out how to do it….) I’m guilty of sitting and playing a game on my phone for more than an hour. We use them to cajole our kids into being quiet, and we use them as a reward to get our kids to accomplish something. We also have a way to stay in touch with any family member all day and all night. I remember when I went to school, I didn’t talk to my parent till I got home over eight hours later, and I survived. The word “selfie” didn’t even exist and you went to the library get a book to read. Now we download any and everything.
I think the cell phone has interfered with human conversation and connection. It’s sad that we see so many people with faces in their phones instead of talking to one another while in a public place. I’m guilty of it at times. I do think the best feature on my phone is the maps ap. I love that my girl will tell me how to get someplace I’ve never been and not get mad at me when I don’t follow her instructions. It sure takes the necessity of stopping for directions out of any trip and makes life easier. Then again, it can also be creepy that your gadget knows where you go on any given day of the week if you do it regularly. I guess it comes down to, another person on your party line isn’t listening, but “big brother” might be.