I was rumbling through some junk in the garage the other day when I came across something I set aside several times previously, a plastic storage box with all of our used mobile phones in it.
I got them all out and started to cogitate. What did I want to say about this? That it was funny? Wasteful? Opulent? Unnatural? Selfish? Inevitable?
When I was young, our house had just one phone. When I was a baby, our house shared one phone with the neighbor, a party line.
My wife Abby got her first cell phones because she and her late first husband needed them as franchise owners of Sonic restaurants in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They were what we remembered as a “car phone,” a unit mounted under the seat, and a full-size handset on the dash or console.
My first cell phone was a handsome Sony I got in 1997. My first plan included 25 anytime minutes and 300 night and weekend minutes.
As the years went by and technology marched along, Abby and I each upgraded and replaced our handsets. When we got married, so did our mobile phone service plans, and in 2005, we got matching Motorola Rokr phones, which was the phone to have back then. We also recently had matching iPhone 5s.
My parents didn’t understand cell phone technology very well. One time I got a call from them on their cell phone and heard nothing but confused mumbling. When I called them back, they told me they, “couldn’t get a dial tone.”
Near the end of her life, my mother wanted a phone that “was just a phone,” and bought a Samsung Jitterbug, which worked fine for her.
I often wonder about how much it cost in real terms – environmental, economic, social, emotional – every time we renewed a contract and got a free new Nokia or Kyocera.
I have also been amused and annoyed to watch phones get smaller and smaller, then when smart phones arrived, get bigger and bigger.
Today we each have one of the latest iPhones from Apple. But it certainly was an exercise in disposability to get from our bulky, analog mobile phone beginnings to where we are today.