10.13.2010

Nostalgia for the days of giant cellphones and invisible photographers

I love huge cellphones because you could always see them.  When you could see the big instrument in someone's hand you had an 80 or 90% certainty that they were talking to someone other than themselves.  Now, with the tiny phones,  you can't really tell whether the person weaving down the street, running into strangers, or the person in a car running right through red lights is just insane, inebriated or, in fact, has some tiny device they are cupping next to their heads and is talking passionately about nothing at all....

In the days of the big phone the call was theater.  Now the call is in the service of ever shifting plans or to assuage general feelings of disconnection.  I conjecture that entire groups of people now have have un-purpose driven lives and use the ubiquitous cellphone to get the next set of directions from some extra-planetary overlords who control the general population via microwaves.  It could be that the person next to you taking snapshots with their iPhone or their Verizon Punk phone is really just triangulating your position so that the overlords can assimilate you as well.  I also get the feeling that cellphones are largely responsible for adult onset Attention Deficit Disorder.  Never have I seen a person change gears and go from a full out, impassioned conversation to a passive and submissive listening mode as quickly as in the past few years.  A Pavlovian respond to a tiny few square inches of plastic and Lithium Ion.

Perhaps this too shall pass and people will go back to diligently practicing their lives with purpose, picking up their phones once or twice a day in order to check messages and return calls.  Maybe that's the hope of economists optimistically calling for enhanced productivity to pull us out of the economic mess.  Naw, the nature of the universe is to constantly move from order to chaos.  From momentum to entropy.  Why should humans buck the trend?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know. I know. We all need cellphones. We all need to stay in touch. Oh yeah? Why? Why every minute of every day? Why at everyone else's expense?

Anonymous said...

I love my cellphone and only make important calls on it. Like to my friends. To see what they're doing. And where they're going to lunch. And what they're doing after lunch. And what they're wearing. And what they're planning to wear later. And where we're going for coffee. And who we hate right now. And who we think is cool right now. And what shoes we looked at. And which other shoes we looked at. And whether I have gum. And to give my friends my deep thoughts about which club to go to tonight. And to dish on that bitch who thought she was so hot. And to complain about my friend who though she was hot, too........

Anonymous said...

What the heck does this have to do with photography?

The Photophile said...

Call me on 575112654 and I'll explain it to you.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Yeah, I remember that time when some people carried even larger stuff, like "cell" phones with the cell attached via a long cable, a battery and antenna as big as they could reach the moon or even the extra planetary overlords with it... these guys must have been really important me thinks.

Now everyone and their dog owns at least three mobile phones, and almost no one is able to look into each others' eyes anymore. No time for trivia like that, oh, and we've seen it all anyway. Photos? How boring. They don't even *move*! And they don't speak. Reading? How ridiculous, when you can have an audio book. Listening to each other? How utterly yesteryear, when you can hide behind the earplugs of your i-something...

Reminds me of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tunnel_(short_story) - and I'm so glad that until now I could still refuse to own or even carry anything, except my camera.

Alan Fairley said...

Until the time comes when people actually have a real purpose in their lives (and I am afraid we are moving in the opposite direction faster and faster) people will seek constant stimulation to avoid the terrible emptiness they otherwise experience.

AM Townsend said...

The cellphone creates pseudo community for people that can't stand aloneness. What I'm not sure about, is if the symbolic connection is for their own gratification, or if it gratifies them by signaling to others that they belong. Either way, it seems to be important to talk really loud and to pretend to multitask while doing so. I belong and I'm busy.