Week of 11.22.2009
Ron Cruger
A sociological change has occurred!
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Kip Van Cruger
            I was so proud way back in 1984 when I purchased a Motorola cellular telephone. It was large. About the same size as a brick of Velveeta cheese. No pocket size, this model. It connected to other telephones about half the time. There just weren’t enough cells around in the middle eighties to connect with everyone.
          I was sublimely happy that I had bought one of the first cell phones. I was proud.
          Since that day in 1984 we’ve all watched the prodigious growth of cellular telephones.
          Ninety percent of adults in America have a wireless or cell phone.
          When television’s popularity started growing in the 1950’s there was a fear that the fabric of society would change – America’s youth would spend all of their spare hours watching TV. Families would grow apart. Attendance at schools would drop. Youngster’s eyes would begin to change and fail. The thought was that television would change the world – and it did. America’s children spent hours every week sitting in front of their TV sets. The pictures were first in black and white and then in magnificent color. The habits of Americans changed. Television became the focal point of our lives.
          A sociological change occured.
          Now we are in the midst of another sociological change.
          Kids now spend more time with their computers than they do watching television.
          But these kids aren’t sitting at home staring at the family computer screen. They’re walking to and from school, they’re in their classrooms, they’re at McDonald’s, they’re in their cars, in their bathrooms and in their beds. American kids are now wedded to their computers via their cell phones.
          Cellular phones have changed the way we live.
          In homes, parking lots, malls, restaurants, stores, hospitals, coffee shops – wherever people gather you’ll find them talking into their sleek cell phones. Everyone is doing it. Millions each day settle into their seats in restaurants and place their cell phones next to their place settings so they may quickly pick them up to receive their next text message or a notice that they have a new Facebook entry.
          Cell phones have advanced to be far more than that prototype Motorola I purchased almost a quarter of a century ago.
          A cell phone today is most likely a phone, a camera, a computer, capable of sending and receiving e-mail, text messages and taking and receiving photographs. With over 100,000 applications (programs) that can turn a small hand held cell phone into a message center, a weather forecaster, sports center, language translator, gambling station, photograph album, earthquake warning center and 99,990 other important uses.
          Today, the average teenager sends and receives over eighty text messages a day. It’s not just the kids who are wed to their cell phones. It’s the vast majority of everyone who owns one.
          Stand by the exit doors by any retail outfit and you will see the hands flashing into pockets, grasping cell phones. An easy speed dial and then, “Oh, hi, Marge, I just got done shopping, I’m heading to my car. See ya soon. Anything new?”
          On the streets, in the malls, on school grounds, on the busses, in the cars, everyone is on their cell phones. Chances are when you’re talking with someone your conversation will be interrupted by a phone call or a text message. And chances are that the either you or the other person will halt the conversation to take the call or text message.
          There are millions of Americans walking around with that somewhat benumbed, trance look on their faces as they wait and long for their next e-mail, text message, photograph or Facebook entry.
           Communication is now instantaneous. One person seeing a movie can text a thousand friends and say “don’t see it” and the movie is doomed. One person can be sitting in a restaurant and text hundreds of friends, saying, “Good food, I enjoyed it.” That moment the restaurant’s success is assured. Powerful tools.
          That tiny package of communication has transformed our society. Almost everything we need to know can now be known in an instant. People are in contact continuously.
          If you don’t think cell phones have changed your life and the lives of those around you take another look.
          The change isn’t coming – it’s here. The sociological change has occurred.
          I think it’s great. Time marches on and all that.
          Just do me one favor, everyone – please don’t use your cell phones when you’re driving. Please.
The good old days - when were they?