I am old enough to remember when phones were black with cords (and not even curly cords) and dials (not push buttons). And party lines! What is a party line? Believe it or not, people shared a single phone line with other families, so you could hear the conversation when someone else was using the line! Yup!
Then came the Princess Phone, which was a more modern design . . . and with curly cords and pretty colors! And next . . . cordless phones! You could walk around the house talking on the phone without worrying about the cord.
The first “cell” phones were called car phones: big, clunky things in your car that you used for emergencies only. The first actual cell phone I had was a rather large thing paid for by my husband’s (at the time) company. Eventually, cell phones became a little smaller, and voila — the fancy flip phone, mostly made by Nokia, it seemed.
Well, you know what happened after the flip phone. Everyone is making phones, and you have your choice of service providers. Phone apps have been developed into a booming industry of games you can play on your phone. Apple has the iPhone, and Samsung has the Android. Phones become thinner and thinner, with fancy cases — and charging cases, since the phones look good, but don’t seem to hold a charge very long. Maybe that is because they are used so much now. And the screens are getting so large that the original purpose — a phone you can carry around — is questionable. And the prices!!
You are at a restaurant. Is your phone sitting on the table? You are waiting in a doctor’s office. Are you playing games and ordering things on Amazon while you wait? You are sitting at Starbucks. Is your phone your sole source of companionship as you sip your skinny vanilla latte, add shot, no whip? You are walking down the street. Are you checking your e-mail messages? (Be careful if you are crossing the street.) Do you use your phone as a camera and video camera, and are all your photos online? Do you get nervous if you discover you have left your cell phone home or, God forbid, lost it — or worst of all, put it through the wash?
Yes? You are a phonophile. The suffix -phile means you have a fondness for something (sort of the opposite of phobia). Bibliophiles love books. Audiophiles love stereo equipment. Phonophiles (I made the word up, but it’s pretty good, huh?) just love, love, love their phones. It seems as if the world is made up of two kinds of people: 1) phonophiles and 2) people who don’t have or don’t use cell phones.
Now, one thing you might notice is that hardly anyone is using a cell phone to actually make a phone call. Most people are not talking on the phone. And many of those who are, walk around with a bluetooth, making it appear as if they are talking to themselves as they walk down the street. (Hey, are you talking to me???)
Particularly with millennials, it seems as if texting has pretty much taken the place of actual speech. After you swipe right (or is it left?) and have found your true love, you text them to arrange a date. After several of these dates, you use a text message to break up. It is a whole lot easier to text a breakup message than to actually speak on the phone. Face to face? Forget it! People will text things they would never actually say. And if you put a period after your text, you might be accused of having an attitude.
And the latest (drum roll, please) . . . possibly even more dangerous than staring at your phone as you cross the street: You could now fall off a cliff or get attacked in a rural area . . . if you play Pokemon Go. Yes, such things have happened to these unlucky gamers. The good news: Phonophiles are finally getting some fresh air and exercise. The bad news: You could get killed!
What is Pokemon Go? I don’t really know much about it, but from what I gather (yes, I downloaded it, but I haven’t played it and probably won’t because I had to sign into Google, and I don’t know my password), it is an app where you go searching in the real world for Pokemon characters. Your phone knows your location, and apparently the game uses Google maps to send you to nearby areas to find these characters, which you see only on your phone cameras. I think.
I don’t know whether people will begin to sue the company that developed the app because of injury or loss of life, but this could be a new specialty for personal injury lawyers. Anyone?
Remember: I will be reading from my latest grammar book — along with three other local writers — at Hot August Nights, sponsored by Redwood Writers, this coming Tuesday, July 19 at 7 p.m. sharp! Hope to see you there.