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Monday, June 14, 2010

Cell phones in literature and life

Okay, so I was one of the last people I know to get a cell phone. Got a pay as you go phone seven years ago when Ezra was born, upgraded to a green razr (whatever happened to those phones, I kind of loved mine) then a little white Motorola that I can check email on.

I've had some (even if very basic) cell phone service since my children were born. I can't imagine driving them around town without a phone.

Two things have brought my (shall I say our? yeah, I think the world is as dependent on cell phones as I am) dependency on cell phones. One, I reread one of my favorite books, and I went to Mexico.

The book was The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, a fabulous book that was released in 1992. Part of the action of the book is in the 2050's and part of it is in the middle ages. But the characters in the 2050's spent a lot of time ringing people up and taking messages. I was like, um, in the middle of a pandemic, people would be texting like crazy, people would be carrying their phones, they would be checking voicemail. To avoid being distracted from the story I had to tell myself it was probably some Brittish cell phone service outage.

I also remember that Guilty Pleasures by Laurel K. Hamilton came out about the same time, and that in the early books Anita Blake has to stop and call in from payphones. Early episodes of the X-files, anyone?

The thing is that after only a few short years we EXPECT to be interconnected and instantaneously communicating, and we expect everyone else to be able to unless there is some reason they can't (an asteroid hitting the earth, or whatever).

On my recent trip to Mexico I found myself without access to a cell phone. It was a huge pain. Especially with several people in different rooms. Frustrating...and inconvenient. I haven't used a hotel phone in years. It made me see how dependent I've gotten on the cell phone, and how extremely frustrating it is not to be able to report to others what is happening as it happens. Not to call up and tell someone to bring down the sunblock, not to be able to check dinner plans...and lets not talk about when our rented speedboat died in the middle of THE OCEAN and the rest of our group disappeared into the distance. I distinctly wanted a cell phone at that time.

Last two things I'm going to say...1. your average teen can text from inside the pocket of their hoodie.

2. The average teen doesn't really remember life before texting.

Isn't that amazing?

I on the otherhand, remember the Friends episode where Ross's baby was about to be born, and he was given a pager (555-JIMBO/JUMBO) a pager? Remember those?

Contemporary YA books in particular need to have some technological component. I recently asked a group of kids if they even had the experience of calling someone's house and saying, is so and so there? Calling the landline. They did, but usually only when a cell phone was dead or going to voicemail or whatever. Imagine not having to hear your boyfriend's parents' exasperation every time you called to talk to him for a few hours...oh yeah, modern teens don't! We live in fun times, don't you think?

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Blogger Nomes said...

that is so weird about the average teen not remembering life before texting, when you put it like that.

and LOL @ pagers! haha.

I remember watching a Tom Cruise movie when I was a teen and he had a mobile (cell) the size of a show and was running around the city with it and we all thought it was pretty advanced :)

Aaand, right now my husbands in Kenya and has no phone access. it is strange and does make you realise just how used to convenience we all are.

June 14, 2010 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger bethany said...

Oh wow, Kenya!

June 15, 2010 at 5:48 AM  
Blogger Horserider said...

I must not be a very average teen... I still don't have texting. I am, however, incredibly close to getting it and very psyched. I can't text in the pocket of my hoodie but I intend to learn. =D I've had a cell phone for two years. During those two years, I can count on two hands the number of times I've actually used said cell phone. Mostly because my house doesn't get service, but that's not the point.

Though it is true that I don't remember a time before texting.

June 16, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

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