Alexander Graham Bell, if he were to come back from the grave, would no doubt be quite astounded to learn that the once terribly modern device called the telephone is imperceptibly being replaced by the SmartPhone. After dithering upon the subject for about a year or more, we have at last taken the critical step of ridding ourselves of a landline telephone. The so-called “home phone” is set to be discontinued. This evening we resolved without any fuss whatsoever that we would instead each have cellular phones. Within all of 90 minutes of our decision we had concluded the purchase of a second mobile phone and cancelled our subscription to our historic land line. The only remaining vestige of the home phone is its last four digits (which we expropriated for the new gizmo). Apart from that the hardware is so much junk.
While I won’t pretend that the modern cordless telephone has anything attractive about it, I nonetheless sense the smallest degree of remorse at the loss of the dated communications apparatus. One of the instruments we have is a replica of the vintage models peculiar to last century.
Years ago when I assumed the law practice of the late R. A. Jamieson, QC and arranged to have new telephones installed I mistakenly returned to Bell Canada the old telephone desk contraption which Mr. Jamieson had been using for the past 52 years of his practice. It was a sentimental misgiving only as it could never have competed with the redial, hold and transfer features of the modern telephone sets. But the nostalgia of its design would clearly have blended with my antique office furnishings.
It will undoubtedly prove to be a casualty of the new purchase that it will succeed at least temporarily to monopolize a good deal of time, not merely the expected repercussion of having to notify numerous parties of the change of telephone number but also the popular malaise of becoming riveted to the instrument. As a diversion the SmartPhone is incomparable. There is of course no need to itemize the many elements of the gadget which provide endless hours of amusement and utility. But even apart from its synthetic capacity I cannot but marvel that it heralds a monumental shift from what was at one time an unprecedented discovery. And I’m sorry but I fail to see anything but the remotest similarity between the old telephone and the SmartPhone; that would be like comparing a typewriter to a computer.
On the other hand I congratulate us for keeping up with the times. It now seems almost preposterous to be without a cellular phone, about as backward as insisting on mailing a cheque to pay one’s bills. Certainly there is a token financial hit upon graduating from a land line to a SmartPhone but again the substantive comparison is hardly fair or realistic. I confess that I am one of those people who has never been disappointed by technology (though I admit as well that I initially resisted it – but that was before I could even have imagined what it could do). I have by contrast subsequently adopted the philosophy that, no matter how frequently the manufacturers change the product, on the balance it is most likely to be an improvement. I have yet to be caught out on this bet. While authors have written at length about the industrial revolution, I consider it my current pleasure to be in the swirl of the technological revolution. If nothing else, I can report with astonishing import that I have witnessed the beginning of the internet. Of course the SmartPhone is just part of the revolution and evolution. Considering the speed at which these advances have been made (attested by the multitude of computers which I have owned and which I have successively replaced one for the other), it boggles me to think how archaic I might have been had I not tried to maintain the pace. And to anyone who attempts to resile from the effort on the theory that it is far too complicated, I need only point to the facility of mere children to handle it. Or, as I like to say, if you can drive a car you can operate a computer. And speaking of cars, the automobile has become one of the biggest computers on wheels. The modern vehicle reflects the technological advances of society in general. Tape decks and CD players for example are thing of the past, like old telephones. Now SmartPhones are synced to the car or USBs are plugged into it. And who in their right mind would consult a map to get anywhere! Technology rules!