First we had cell phones, disconnecting us from the wall jack, and totally revolutionizing our voice communications.
I have to admit, I don't fully understand the appeal of cell phones, being that I relish my moments away from the phone! (My boss likes me to be constantly available, or I wouldn't carry one at all.)
For kids, they are a status symbol. All the cool kids have cell phones; all the losers are phone-less.
Maybe that's true of adults as well. Cell phones have quickly become an indispensable part of our upscale, mobile culture. People buy plans with 3000 "any time" minutes. 2900 of those minutes are inane babble, but... use it or lose it. That's why you see people with phone-plastered-to-ear when driving, walking down the grocery aisle, dining in a nice restaurant, or watching a movie. (After all, those minutes can't be used up when you're working or watching Desperate Housewives, or sleeping!)
I saw a guy riding his motorcycle - on a public street - one handed, because his other hand was holding a cell phone to unhelmeted ear. (I ride a motorcycle, and I don't know how you could do that at all, let alone safely. After all, you need left hand to operate the clutch and the right hand for the throttle. He wasn't riding well, but he was riding. He's probably dead by now.)
The next big step was picture-phones. Take a grainy photo with your camera, and send it to the person you're talking to!
Mom and Dad went to the Seattle World's Fair, back in the early '60s, and the two things that really wowed 'em were... the Space Needle, and telephone with picture! Well, we've finally arrived! So - the cool kids have picture-phones, the losers have plain phones.
The next step is another one that baffles me - text messages. I s'pose there are instances where a text message makes sense, like if you've got to send somebody a phone number, or address or a vehicle ID number. But why would you spend 10 minutes composing and sending a message from your cell phone to somebody else's, when you could use your cell phone and call that person and convey the same message in a 20-second conversation? Weird, wild stuff.
And now... proving we're almost to the Gene Roddenberry Star-Trek Gilded Age... hands-free cell-phoning! One variation is called "Bluetooth." Shouldn't it be called "Blue-Ear"? (Or maybe I'm way off base, and it's called that after its inventor, Earl Bluetooth.) Evidently, hands-free phoning is for people who have the 6000 any-time minute plan, and so they have to keep talking not only while waiting for their meal in the restaurant, but also while they're chewing. Or the busy college student who has to use up her minutes while taking lecture notes.
Of course, who can deny it looks really cool to be walking around with a hunk of plastic hanging from your ear, every waking moment? (Especially if it has a little blinkie-light on it.)
I'm waiting for the hands-free thingie to drop in price a little bit. I'll get one and wear it, just so I look really cool... and so people won't look at me quite as funny when I'm walking around, talking to myself.