Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Joining the 21st Century: My First Cell-phone

Technology has a way of making itself indispensable.   Perceived conveniences are quickly converted into perceived necessities (recently highlighted by the power outages we experienced this week: “You mean we can’t watch the baseball game tonight?!). 

Six years ago I still had dial-up Internet access and checked my e-mail maybe twice daily.  Now I sometimes check twice within the same minute.

In 2006, a friend of mine introduced me to a website called YouTube to show me a slide-splittingly funny skit from Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Ali G.  Within six months or so, I was visiting YouTube nearly every day, and by now it’s so ingrained into my daily usage, I’d be hard-pressed to do without it. 

And now I’ve really joined the 21st Century by purchasing my first cell-phone, nearly two decades after my father purchased his first mobile phone.  Yes, I was apparently the last man in America without one, and my daughters were unquestionably the last 13 year-olds on the planet without this All-Important-Basic-Right-Of-Every-Man-Woman-And-Child. 

My aversion to owning a cell phone over the years were met with a variety of responses:  one friend resorted to calling me Ted Kaczynski (known in most circles as the Unabomber).  Others were simply dumbfounded that I could function without one. 

“How do people contact you?”

“They call me at home when I’m at home.  Just like they did with you ten years ago.”

 “What if there’s an emergency and someone needs to contact you and you’re not at home?”

“Then they’ll have to call someone else.”

“How do you talk to people when you’re not at home?”

My flippant response was typically, “I don’t really want to talk to anybody anyway,” figuring that characterizing myself as a misanthrope would end the questions. 

But in truth, I just didn’t want to be tied to yet another piece of technology that I was living without quite comfortably.

I never wanted a cell-phone.  I couldn’t stand the moms who walked down the aisles of Target talking loudly to friends about personal issues.  Couldn’t stand the guy at the park who couldn’t tear himself away from his phone long enough to watch his son go down the slide.  Didn’t like my wife glued to her Blackberry when we were on a trip.

That all changed last year when a few logistical mix-ups with my daughters led to elevated blood pressure and unnecessary outburst by yours truly.  After negotiating with the girls about the issue for a while, last December I purchased three cell-phones with unlimited texting, one for each of us.

Expectedly, within a short six months, I have become tethered to the little beast. 

I love it.  I’m not crazy about talking on the cell-phone – the quality is poor and I don’t like being interrupted – but texting has now become a way of life, and though my fingers go at about half the speed of my girls’, I now send upwards of a dozen texts a day, more if there are logistical issues with the kids.  Now I can finally get a response from my wife while she’s tied up at meetings.  In January, I was able to give my daughter highlights of the Packers/Falcons playoff game while she was at a party.  And I’ve been able to keep in touch in a fun, quick way with friends.

In short, I’m now addicted to yet another electronic device.  Add it to the list.  Hell, I even caved last year and joined Facebook. 

What’s next?  I figure my next holdout is using Groupon.

“You haven’t used Groupon?  How do you shop?!!”

I’ll get there.  Just give me a few years to judge your addictions first before they become mine.

Copyright, 2017, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved