A Call for Normalcy

June 22, 2007, 4:30 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, Josh J  | No Comments

Every once in a while, an invention comes along that changes our way of life so completely and seamlessly, we can no longer imagine our lives without it, even if we were alive long before it came. When I was young, microwave ovens were a solid example of this phenomenon. Within a few years they went from nonexistent to omnipresent, as an increasingly impatient populace grew increasingly dependent.

The most recent example would have to be the cell phone. As recently as 2000, I couldn’t imagine owning a cell phone since, after all, I was neither a businessman nor a drug dealer. Now I struggle to find an 11-year-old without one.

More than that, everyone expects everyone else to be reachable all the time. Gone are the days of coming home to check your messages; no one can miss you. I recently encountered a woman who was disappointed she forgot her cell phone at home, even though she would only be gone for two hours and was going to be in a meeting that would require her to turn her cell phone off.

But of course that’s if she turned it off. People now apparently need to be available during movies, class, and church. Again, no one even seems to remember a time when people would just have to wait a couple hours to reach you. Every call has taken on an absurd level of urgency. Some people will actually get offended if their call is not answered. Despite laws regulating their use during driving, most people are loath to let a call go unanswered and finish their ten-minute drive before returning the call. Cell phones are practically glued to people’s ears, and thanks to Bluetooth, this is coming closer to being literally true (this hands-free technology also makes it much harder to tell who the true crazies are, since everyone now walks around waving their arms, talking to no one in particular).

I’m not decrying the proliferation of cell phones. I myself have one and enjoy the increased communications it affords me. I just find it fascinating the way technology changes not only our capabilities, but along with it our standards and expectations.


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