Thursday, September 20, 2012

Freedom & The Smartphone

Whatever happened to just being out? Like out and about? More importantly, out of reach?

There are many parts of my childhood that were governed by one simple difference from today's lifestyle; I had no cell phone. And of course, I didn't. They were not available in the late 70s and early 80s. At least not the way they are today.

I recall having briefings from my mom who, as a single parent, had to make sure all three of her boys could be where they needed to be when they needed to be there. Before leaving for the day or dropping me off somewhere, she would tell me where to be and when to be there. Period.

If I went over to a friend's house to play, then I needed to be home for dinner. There was no calling home to ask for more time or mom calling me to tell me that she was running late. Nope. Everyone had to reconvene at the appointed time and place. No exceptions.

Now while that may sound rigid and structured by today's standard, think about what else that meant. Once I was out playing with my friends, I was out. Once my mom was out running errands, she was out. Everyone could count on getting back together later in the day. Between those two times, we were on our own. What a concept.

There was no checking in every hour. There was no midstream change of plans. A plan was a plan. If everyone was not on board with the plan, someone was gonna get lost or worst, busted.

Even as an adult, it was not until I was almost 30 years old that I became a regular cell phone carrier. And yet somehow my life seemed to progress just fine. In fact, for every occasion that it has been handy to have a cell phone, there have been just as many when I wish people did not think they could just call me at any time.

Don't get me wrong. I realize this is where I start to sound like "Old Man Esben" who is afraid of modern technology and pines for the good old days. Maybe I am. Either way I say that there is a price we pay for all of this connectivity.

I mean, how independent are we when we are voluntarily wear an electronic leash?

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