Ad in the Carleton Place Canadian circa 195os- from the files of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
One of the ironies of modern life is that everyone is glued to their phones, but does anyone really use them as a telephone anymore? Have our phones just become fancy two-way pagers with keyboards?
The land line phone served a purpose when there were no alternatives. I spent many hours on it with my friends when I was a teen. But that still doesn’t mean it’s superior to a cellphone, any more than a horse and buggy was superior to an automobile. Awww, too bad, landlines were a drag, right? Well batteries and charging are even worse.
The telephone network of the 1970s and 1980s sounded far superior on local calls than that achieved by the still-awful HDVoice cell phone companies have started to implement. The smart phone has won, because we have adopted it in overwhelming numbers, and abandoned the limited, old, clumsy land line.
We do not care that cell phone conversations are inferior to land line conversations, nor are we rummaging through our pockets for change anymore for the payphone. Is it because phone conversations are no longer that important, given the many other ways we communicate?
Smart phones still suffer from a bit of what I call “Swiss Army Knife Syndrome.” The old red pocket knife is not the world’s best knife, or corkscrew, or nail file. But it’s the best single item combining all those functions when asynchronous, textual media like email or WhatsApp allow you to intricately craft every exchange.
Surely you jest you say? You can’t mean the ‘crafting” of ungrammatical, misspelled, poorly constructed, illogical collections of non-sentences that are all too common in written communication today? Or, are we just annoyed that the kids invented a more efficient way of typing words phonetically?
Today I salute those people from 1985 who managed to go without cellphones and still not die: those were the real heroes!