Thursday, April 11, 2013

Episode 67: Magic Boxes and Crazies

I did a crazy thing today, so crazy I almost don't want to admit it, not so much because it was insanely crazy itself, but rather because it is ridiculous that I thought it was crazy. It could be that I was just drunk on a heady cocktail of Rob Bell, Donald Miller, and Anne Lamott. My desk is littered with the evidence of a recent reading binge on those three, and they make you think about thinking about wanting to do and say and think and ask crazy things, like people who do not live in suburbs do.

In any case, this morning I went out, in the car, to at least two different places, without the one thing with which everyone on planet Earth must have. Yup, I actually went outside my house, not just in the yard out of my house, but at least 3 to 5 miles out of my house, without taking my mobile phone. I have to admit, I nearly had a panic attack when I thought of all the horrible things that could happen. What if someone tried to call me, or updated a Facebook status, or worse yet, what if I got a flat tire!? How did people deal with such things before? It was nerve-wracking, but I made it back without incident and only missed one call and no useful Facebook updates. What a crazy thing it is that these little magic boxes have gone from novelty to ubiquity to I-cannot-breathe-without-it-y in such a short time.

According to actual statistics, not just numbers I made up, there are around 6 billion active mobile phone subscriptions in a world of about 7 billion people. Not surprisingly, there are more mobile phones than people in the U.S. I started trying to think of people I know who don't have a mobile phone. The best I could come up with are a couple friends who keep their mobile phones in drawers instead of attached to their persons at all times and don't have unlimited texting.

My kids don't have phones yet, well, not exactly. The truth is they have my wife's old iPhone, but it is not actually active as a phone, so it doesn't count.

My parents used to give us their old phones too. We pretended to call people on them, or sometimes hit each other with them, or tied people up with the curly handset cords. So far, that is not what our kids do with the old iPhone, mostly because it has no cord, would break if they hit each other with it, and has so many games and Apps it is hardly recognizable as a phone at all.

The little magic boxes we call phones probably spend most of their time wondering what they have in common with some wrinkled dusty old antique device that only had one function, even though it was ten times their size. Life used to be so much simpler. People walked to places, talked to each other in person, spent time outside, and generally has less stressful lives. On the other hand, they couldn't play Angry Birds and look up interesting facts on the internet while stuck in a boring phone conversation, so life wasn't all rose petals and gummy worms for them either.

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