got to chill on de vices…
I can’t remember my very first phone call. Can’t recall the first time the clangy bell rang through the hallways of my house, in a tone that was sounded specifically for me. I don’t even remember to whom I gave my digits first. Most probably my best friend in primary school, Jessie. Her and I did talk on the phone a little bit from memory, largely in our prepubescent years however, gossiping about school and boys and bitches. But the telephone wasn’t a part of our 13 year long friendship that holds the strongest memories.
I guess Jessie and I developed a tele-communication in the latter days, when we were fated to attend different high-schools. But in the early years our phone calls were merely a means to organise a sleepover or the like. A phone call that, most often than not, ended in the abrupt practice of putting our mums on the blower to confirm details. This in turn led to a mum gossip session, a ritual which I was often bewildered by, whilst watching the potatoes on the stove boil over.
What could they possibly have to talk about that would take up so much time?
The details of our sleepover had been arranged, the drop off time, the pick up time, what Jessie can and can’t eat, etc etc. This had all been sorted, but they were still chatting, like chirpy chickens in the morning after a lay.
Such a telephonic marathon could have adverse effects on my already tight dinner, bath and A Country Practice schedule – thus, I did not take kindly to this device.
A little later in my teen years I started to develop a much fonder relationship with the telephone. I had a few friends who were privy to the device and who lived further than a street away from me. The telephone then became a clever way to organise what we were going to wear to school for ‘casual day’, or who was going to tell the new girl that she had been accepted into our lunch time group, or conspiring about how long it would take for the other girl to realise we don’t like her anymore….ah such a handy tool for anti-social behaviours to manifest.
I remember my first phone call from a boy. There was a hell’a lot of trust involved in the imparting of just a few numbers. It came with the risk that my older brother, or worse still my older sister may get to the phone before me and stain the innocent interaction before it had begun. Or perhaps my mum would answer the call and totally ruin my cover – the thinly veiled guise that I was an independent woman of 14 with my own telephone line, perhaps even my own address. An accidental interaction could have dire consequences. And heaven-forbid if those 6 numbers ever got in the wrong hands and an unplanned phone call was made! All hell could break loose. The whole school may discover, in an instant with viral, morning school-bus gossip; that Mandy has a family! With whom she shares a dwelling! Oh god, how embarrassment.
So I made absolutely sure that the first boy to ring my house was clear of the rules. He would ring me at a certain time, with a window of 15 minutes, between after school hang time and dinner time, a time when knew with confidence that a travesty involving disclosure of my home-life could not conspire without my interception.
With all of this anxiety over careful planning and delicate weaving of my uncontrollable and controllable private living situations, the cons of the telephone conversation was seeming to tip the scales away from the pros. But still I endeavoured to indulge in the device, plough through the pain, for gratification of a one-on-one power chat with my young comrades was the reward.
I remember when I was given an email address by a cute boy I met at a bar in the late 1990’s.
What? no phone number, just an email? …but I was just getting friendly with the phone. My mum nor my sister no longer answered my calls and I was good on the phone now, really witty and confident, and even enjoyed the anxiety leading up to a ring.
Prior to this strange E-mail address exchange I had only ever used a computer at school, for ‘Computer Class’ and had never even imagined what ‘surfing the net‘ would feel like or electronic mailing. At the time it was a relatively new concept, and mostly for people with corporate jobs or university students, not me, a youthful (sub)urban hippy with a part-time job in retail.
Quite frankly I wasn’t interested, I had already travelled the world and met wonderful people and experienced new and cultured things.
What could ‘The Internet’ give me? I did not enjoy reading encyclopaedias, nor did I want to step into a chat-room with a bunch of strangers… so what could the ‘worldwide web‘ or a big clumsy hard drive possibly offer me? In fact ‘The Internet’ sounded a bit naff and a tad creepy.
No thanks, there are bands to see, and parties to go to, drinks to drink and boys to kiss. Why would I want to spend any time on a computer?
But the boy in question was cute, so I got myself an email address and wrote him a note. There were a few short electronic exchanges, but I never saw the boy again, turns out he lived in Sydney.
So now I had an email address. Wow.
I held that address [email@example.com] close to my chest for almost a year, didn’t give it away to anyone.
That was until the love of my life (well, the love of that current day) decided he was going to travel the world …in search of some more email addresses. The worldwide web was then forcefully relevant to my broken heart.
I used that E-mail portal to pour my heart out and receive an equal amount of heart back from my long lost, who was now merely a traveller on the information super-highway and no longer a traveller on my turf, the solid ground I walked on, the ground in which the telephone cables lay dormantly under.
I remember my first mobile phone. I didn’t want it.
I was still (kinda) living with my parents at the time. My mum was so tired of not knowing when I’d be home or where I was all the time, or more importantly, when she should worrying herself sick and when she could enjoy a sound nite’s sleep. Mother insisted I carried a mobile phone so she could reach me if she needed, or vice versa.
What a creepy concept! Being constantly in reach of everyone, anywhere, anytime…everyone being in reach of me …being able to be interrupted by anyone… ANYWHERE!
But mother knows best. So she bought me one. A Nokia 5110.
I had a fairly steady income at the time so the slightly decadent phone bills weren’t so worrying –until I took it with me on a 2 week trip to Thailand and rang my boyfriend back in Melbourne almost everyday. After a rude $1000 International Roaming lesson, I carried my expensive little brick around for a year or so, happy with it’s service.
I was beginning to enjoy the perks of being contactable at all times. I was a convert of the new way. Chatting on the bus to a friend who wasn’t physically there, phoning a mate from a concert to blast her eardrums with distorted megahertz, getting a buzz from my sister to say mum found a bong in my bedroom and not to bother coming home for a week.
What ever would I have done without these connections? Perhaps that chunky plastic Nokia mobile phone was the missing piece in the puzzle, the device of all devices. However could I want for anything more?
Not long into my mobile phoney existence, Short Message Service politely infiltrated my paradigm and being a girl with a wordly nature, fast became my communication de jour. I loved to send them and I loved to receive them. SMS was now my drug of choice. I would drop one at every opportunity, releasing my witty thoughts and enjoying the release of a thought like the ecstasy of releasing a sneeze. Unfortunately along with my newfound necessitive-communicado-mobility, big fat Nokia 5110 (so many numbers) would no longer do. I needed something snappier, zippier, a lot less heavy. My mobile phone had been promoted in my belongings and now took prime position in my handbag, rendering it’s girth highly relevant (I could barely even fit my CD Walkman in while Nokia was around).
So through a not so organic natural selection process and technological progression, the phones got smaller and so did the bills; clearing an easy path for a beyond 2000– style dependancy.
About 7 plans, 4 different carriers and 28 mobile phones later, I am now the proud owner of a slim and sassy iPhone 5; or perhaps put in a more accurate light, the iPhone 5 now owns me.
My phone, and it’s ownership of me, is my most prominent vice.
Which I believe is becoming the nature of all our current day devices.
I can barely go an hour, let alone a day, without fondling one or two or three of my devices, sometimes all at the same time.
I am ashamed. My potatoes are boiling over and I am missing my bath time all over again…and for what? An in-transit, un-important conversation, a reply to a random thought, a google of an irrelevant querie? Constant indulgence of the human trivia muscle. Most of this stuff is nonsense, and most of it’s worth is stuff and nonsense. It is just chitter chatter in many different forms.
Yes, chitter chatter is entertaining, and yes, connection to the world is important, and yes, indulging a random thought can be creative in some way.
But so is hanging out with friends, or riding a bike, or reading an encyclopaedia, or learning an instrument or having an unadulterated thought in the peaceful space of the silence of your own brain.
I am a person who loves to have my finger on the pulse. But in just a short space of time, this need has become less a finger on the pulse and more an entire hand on the pulse.!
One hand on the pulse, gripping it and thumbing over information like it’s life support, heart being shocked into pump by the sporadic vibrations of this device, sadly leaving only one hand left to grip life…
…it is time for me to let go of the pulse for a bit.
Time to take my finger off, and place both hands firmly on the wheel of life.
Time to chill, on de vices, maan.