Monday, July 7, 2008

Cellular Crone

Thing 1 was the lucky recipient of a cell phone recently, and she has not been parted from it since. I think she sleeps with it. (My neice has been known to actually sleep with hers in her hand. My sister-in-law gave the alarm company at her factory my neice's phone number, because she knows she will A)always have it on, B)have it with her and will always answer.) I have had a cell phone for about 5 or 6 years now, and when it ring, which it does infrequently, I wonder what that noise is, and why won't that person answer their annoying phone.

But since Thing 1 has gotten a phone, I seem to be getting much more use out of my own. Mostly because of text messaging. I LOVE text's sort of like e-mail, in that I can get back to someone when I feel like it, and it is downright thrilling to pick it up and find "mail".

I am very slow at typing in text messaging, largely because of the fact that I insist on using proper spelling and punctuation. None of that "u" and "r" and "gr8" for Mrs. Loudshoes. The kids think I am hilarious for going to all the trouble to write "you are a pain in the ass", instead of "PITA". But then they go and ask me where they can find capital letters and commas and question marks, because they didn't know they had them on their phones.

Here in Ontario, there is a government proposal to stop people from using cell phones when they are driving. Considering the number of people who can barely operate a motor vehicle responsibly under the most ideal of circumstances, I think this is an excellent idea. (Like the bonehead the Mister and I saw last week who was trying to make a left hand turn from the far right hand lane. In the middle of the block. Without signalling.) I would go further and suggest that walking and talking on a cell phone be banned as well, because far too many people do that and make a hash of it, too.

I realize that the cell phone has become a ubiquitous piece of equipment for the generation under mine, but I do think they overestimate the importance of such a thing. Most people I over hear on their cell phones (and it seems to be just about all of them, since nobody has an indoor voice when they are talking on a cell phone) are not exactly negotiating peace in the Middle East or discussing names for the twins with Brad and Angelina. I witnessed a young woman do her entire grocery shop a few weeks ago with her phone pressed up to her ear and saying things like "grapes are on for a dollar twenty nine a pound this week" and "what do you use tamarind for?". (Can you imagine being on the other end of that conversation? Was it some sort of horrible social experiment to see if someone could actually die of boredom?) There is a value in not being available, if only because you don't have to fill up every waking minute with knowing the price of grapes.

I've no doubt that if cell phones had been around when I was 14, I'd have been frantic to get my hands on one. Nobody on the face of the earth takes their social life more seriously than a 14 year old girl, and I get that this was a big deal for Thing 1. And, truth be told, I'm happy enough to be able to get in touch with her when she's not at home. It give me a sense of connection. Plus, it gives me a chance to tell her how to use a semi-colon.

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