A Life Connected

During my last year of high school I was one of the kids that thought he was cool and had a pager. Mountain Dew sponsored a deal in which you could pay a reasonable amount and receive a pager with a Mountain Dew logo inscribed on it and six months of free airtime (click here for a 1996 NYT article). The majority of the pages I received were special offers from Mountain Dew and I remember scheming how my friends and I could spell words using only numbers. The notion of a pager to kids in high school today is unthinkable – no calling, texting or browsing capabilities in your pocket would be unacceptable by most kids’ standards. Just ask my eighteen-year-old cousin now living with us for the next few weeks. A life not connected is a life unknown to her.

But now I can’t imagine life without a cell phone. Yet I managed to live my entire life until the fall of 2003 without one. In college when people asked for my phone number I told them to email me, since I had neither a home nor cell phone and checked my email frequently enough. I figured that I was hardly home and a cell phone seemed too expensive and unnecessary for me at the time. Growing up I clearly remember making calls from pay phones for rides home from the movies or the mall, but have a difficult time recalling how I met people at specific meeting points. We must have been very specific with our plans – meet at so and so time at so and so place. These days, people agree to meet you at a park, arrive at the park and call you. There is no need for specificity anymore when meeting someone.

With time, the ordinary cell phone will go the way of the cassette tape and the pager and be replaced with a mainstream smartphone-like device where everyone knows where everyone else is via GPS and what they’re doing (at least in a short blurb, like with Twitter or Facebook’s status updates). Email will be instantaneous for everyone and I will probably be among those connected. And similar to my cousin not remembering what it was like pre-email and when people had pagers, my daughter won’t know what text messaging on a nine-digit numerical keypad is because the times will have changed again.

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