Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blah-Blah Nation

Are you ready? To stand in the midnight line (on June 28) to get your iPhone?

The hype started a few months back. It promises to revolutionize wireless mobile communication, with its beautiful touch-screen and marvelous functionality. $500 for the phone and $100/month for the service? Small price to pay, to be on the leading edge for a couple months, huh?

What has happened to us?

Ten years ago, everybody - well, most everybody - got along just fine without being connected 24/7.

(And I've got to confess - my motivation to write these words stems partly from the fact that I love to be away from the phone whenever the opportunity presents itself. I carry a cell phone, but that's my boss's choice, not mine. And I love to pocket it and hope that it never rings. It really wouldn't need any buttons except the "answer" button, because I place an outgoing call on it maybe once a month.)

Nowadays, you see people yammering when they're driving, walking, shopping, eating in a restaurant, watching a movie. I imagine they use the little hands-free Star Trek earpiece thingie when they're making love... because they sure can't stop yappin'! How about when they're taking a shower? Is the iPhone water resistant?

Do you think it's important business they're discussing? Sealing that multi-million-dollar deal? Talking to Police Dispatch? Helping a lost child find his way home?

Guess again!

If you happen to overhear one of those conversations, there's a good chance it will be meaningless inane twaddle. What happened on "Desperate Housewives" last night. Or which dry cat food they like the best. Or how unfair Matilda is being to Hubert.

I assume that physical therapists are seeing patients with "cell-phone elbow." You know... the people who have injuries resulting from their elbows being cocked at a very tight angle, holding cell-phone to ear 18 hours a day. (And if Darwin is right about that evolution thing, maybe in a couple generations our descendents will have a normal size right arm, and a tiny little 8-inch left arm... just long enough to hold a cell-phone to ear. That would be pretty handy, huh?)

According to a survey of 1256 cell phone users in the UK, 1/3 of them wouldn't give up their cell phone for $2 million. 76% said it's a "social requirement" to own a cell phone. 85% said having a cell phone is "vital to maintaining their quality of life." (Click HERE to link to an article about the survey.)

Of course, only losers and dorks use regular cell phones. If you're anybody, you need one of those units that has the tiny keyboard, so you can send instant messages and email, and "surf the net" and look at pretty pictures.

(Which begs the question... why is it preferable to spend 2 minutes tap-tap-tapping out a sentence on a smaller-than-tiny keyboard - or numeric/alpha keypad - when you could call the person and speak the sentence in 10 seconds? Am I just too much the geezer to understand?) (I know... I know... I'm sounding more and more like Andy Rooney all the time!)

Well, starting Friday, only losers and dorks will use a Blackberry, or a "Q" (is that the one James Bond uses?), or a Treo. All the happ'nin' people will use an iPhone.

There have already been horrible auto accidents where one of the parties was trying to punch a message into his cell-phone keyboard while driving. I imagine the iPhone will just make matters worse. Generally, if I see a motorist make a really, totally stupid move, it's almost a sure bet they're operating that vehicle one-handed, because the other hand is taking care of cell-phone duties.

Here's a theorem... speak up if you disagree. Never in history has the quantity of "information" been better, than in 2007. Never has the quality of information been worse.


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