Words by Kevin Danson
The mid nineties opened the jaws of many children in awe as the wireless telephone, what we today call the ‘Mobile’, was being introduced to our homes. I remember the day my Dad walked into the living room and placed this block of au courant technology next to our very small (compared to any T.V. nowadays) black and white (What? Who?) box of moving images and telling us – “Emergencies only!” As soon as he left the room, my brother and I immediately darted towards this incredible gadget, treating it like an artefact out of The Valley of The Kings. With no colour T.V., no wall mounted shower, no Hi-Fi and no microwave (pretty bad for the mid nineties), somehow we convinced ourselves that we had become members of the Mundo High-Tech.
My first step into the world of mobile phones was forced upon me (like a competitive mother who is trying to show a new mother’s group how her baby CAN walk, by marching the baby round with her rigid arms) by my employers. My first phone was a black slab of plastic with a very narrow, incredibly small, green-lighted screen; only a number, battery life and signal bar icons could fit all at once. It was definitely an improvement from the not-so-popular ‘beeper’, especially since I could call a person up and tell them to ‘fuck off’ (usually my brother, not just random people) instead of trying to convince an operator to do her job and write the god damn fricking message, please.
I tend to forget about the camera or the camcorder. Taking photos has lost its charm with me. If I don’t take a picture of something (someone falling, a cute dog or a funny sign) I’m sure I’ll see one alike somewhere on the web very soon. No picture taking, no time-wasting. Sometimes I think certain things are better seen with my own eyes and kept as a memory, rather than pointlessly sharing a photograph with others who weren’t there so didn’t have the same feeling. Selfish? Deal with it.
A mobile phone has much more to offer than I had ever thought possible. I’m not a phone person myself – in terms of talking – but who needs a phone to talk when I can chat via all these new social channels? No, my phone is used mainly for the calendar; to remind me to moisturise at 10pm, follow up on blog ideas etc (I would have used a filofax, but such antiques don’t send you reminders accompanied by a sound which makes you think; ‘What a great idea!’). Apps get you by on a brief tram journey or while you wait for your other half to get back from the bathroom while out for dinner. I’ve found that game apps can be as bad as a good book. Before I know it I’ve missed dinner, the cat is screaming at me because he’s missed dinner and all the lights have been turned off as everyone has gone to bed. It’s gone midnight and productivity has been zilch.
Regardless of everything I’ve mentioned about what the mobile has to offer, there is one form of assistance the phone offers me (and probably many of you out there), which I would be lost without. One word; ‘avoidance’.
Every day I get my lunch from a specific shop. Every day there is a guy behind the till who not only fulfils his duty by greeting me, but always (ALWAYS!!!) takes things a step further and wants to chat. This is not a weather chat (he would have been decapitated by now if he brought the weather up every single day) or a superficial chat. This is a chat which probes into subjects you do not have time to chat about when popping out for a quick sarnie. So, behold dear readers, my confession. Just before I head to the counter, I conveniently ‘receive a call’. I give a friendly nod to the cashier – all the while speaking to my trustworthy friend; Henry Tom Cole (HTC for short). Thus, I escape the awkward, meaningless conversation I dread. I do not consider this to be a form of social anxiety, as it helps to remove oneself out of many types of similar situations.
On Wednesday I was heading into town for a meeting when I saw three street roamers several paces ahead. One was shaking an empty can of cider which had been left on the street, the other was swaying, bouncing off walls and the third had begun to slur words at passersby with an extended open palm. Not wanting to get sucked into proximity or conversation, I whipped out Mr Cole (sounds like I’m going to flash!) and commenced my usual conversation of ‘You there already? 6 o’clock. I’m on my way’ blah blah blah.
Yes, the phone can be a planner, a camera, a games console, a music player, a video player, a clock, an alarm, a dictionary and so many other things but, the finest use I have had from mine to date is its helping hand in getting me out of awkward situations. If you haven’t tried it (which I’m pretty sure many of you have) then do.
Kevin Danson is an English Literature student at MMU who likes to share his ramblings. Read his blog Pebbleddash and follow him on Twitter @pebbleddash