I don’t think about my cell phone anymore.
I used to sit around wondering when I was going to get one, like literally sit in my room and wonder what it would be like to have a cell phone. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I thought I’d call girls. Maybe I thought they’d call me. I figured it would be easier to make a plan with my friends, and I definitely knew for a fact - that it would be awesome to get a call while I was driving around.
“Hey, it’s me. What are you up to?”
“Oh nothing, just driving around - should I come by?”
How cool would I be?
When I finally got one, and realized it was going to mainly turn into a wireless pager for parents’ errands and needy siblings - I found new ways to make it cool. Ringtones. Oh hey, who’s phone is that playing “The Simpsons” theme song? Never mind it’s me. I’m the coolest teenager in a 3 mile radius. Then there were polyphonic ringtones “Yo! This sound JUST LIKE ‘Juicy!’ ” and there were games (what’s your record in Snake?), text messaging, and more ringtones. I used to obsess over it, every time I had a chance to upgrade, I’d surf for reviews, look up models, and even talk to customer service online, just to poll an audience.
Of course, my parents didn’t know this - because I found ways to do most of this stuff for free, and I played it cool, so as not to have this totally sweet new toy taken away.
The other part of this equation was my budget. I was never one of these kids with a Razr. I had to choose a good phone, that did what I needed - for usually between $50-$80. Four years ago I was still using a slide phone. It was an embarrassment, but for some reason I loved it. It was black and metallic orange. No, kids under 20 - that wasn’t the color of the case, our phones didn’t have “cases.” That was the color of my actual phone. It was such a heap, that it used (and advertised!) “Walkman Audio.”
As in: “Plug some earphones into this baby, and it’ll sound as good as your Walkman.” It wasn’t even ‘discman” audio. I can remember the moment it broke, and the journey to AT&T to replace it. I was looking for phones in my usual price range, when my girlfriend - out of what I can only imagine was fear of continued shame - suggested an iPhone.
Boom. Watermark moment in my life. Not only had I made my first major life decision based on a girl’s advice, but my arrival in Apple-onia meant one thing. It was a grown-up phone, therefore I was a grown-up.
Again, instant obsession. Internet, games, the photos, and APPZ! I was working on Morning Joe at the time, and I remember the astonishment at my purchase. In hindsight, it was probably because they knew I was being paid dirt as an NBC Page. But at the time it felt like respect. Years later, now everyone has an iPhone. Or they have a Android to pretend it’s cooler than an iPhone, or they have a Blackberry because they’re companies force it on them.
My kids will never know a world like the one in which I grew up. Where if you call the house to get picked up, and nobody answers - you were either walking home, or waiting 15 minutes and trying again. There was no backup number. Mom and Dad were out, which meant you were out of luck.
Now, when one of my brothers doesn’t pick up his cell, I tweet at him. I’ve never said that out loud before. Typing it just made me a little nauseous.
I get my email on my phone, I handle banking on it, I look up inane NBA stats on it, I actually do work on it, I monitor twitter, upload my life to Instagram, and roll my eyes at Facebook. I sleep with it next to my bed, and carry it with me everywhere unless I’m going to great lengths not to carry it around. And I swear to everything that is holy that my kids will have walkie-talkies, with one button and one channel. Me. And nothing they ever own, will have the ability to take a picture, and then immediately send it to somebody. Because If I’d have had that much power at that young an age - I would have certainly used it for evil - not good. I’ll worry every day that they do have a phone, about who they’re calling, what they’re talking about, and whether they’re safe.
But me? I’ll probably never think about my phone again. Just like I don’t think about breathing. Because it’s so much a part of me, so ingrained in everything I do - that I don’t even notice it anymore.