What did we do before mobile phones?

Oct 28, 2023
Our Starts at 60 blogger reflects on a time when technology wasn't so readily available at our fingertips. Source: Getty Images.

It’s very easy to look at our past with rose-coloured glasses.

Take communication devices for instance. If you were meeting your friends to go somewhere, you would organise well in advance and then arrive at that place. If arrangements changed, then you were pretty much stuck, but somehow we got through it. I laugh when I remember a date who said I’ll meet you at 7pm under the Post Office clock. I was so excited and dressed to the nines arrived to find he was not there. He was at another Post Office. We eventually caught up and sorted it all out. But life was so different then.

A long time ago when I was a teenager sharing a house with three other siblings and my two parents, the telephone was an essential item for us girls, although there were rules attached about it’s usage and the length of calls. One of us would hog it, another would hover nearby to catch any gossip, my father would tap his watch and my mother would sigh. If a boy rang, there would be a loud announcement “Its a boy!” and in the following silence we would all be listening in. The telephone was attached to a wall in the olden days, so we could not sneak off for privacy.

Flash forward to today. I’m driving along and my mobile blue tooths itself to my car and I can answer a call easily – except on tricky roundabouts where I need to concentrate. I can answer a phone call anywhere, but being constantly accessible can have it’s down side. I want to watch a movie in peace, so I need to switch off a few things and silence my smart watch. But if the car makes a bad noise and I need to ring he NRMA I can do so without finding a phone-box.

Remember the old phone boxes and the people huddled within? The yellowed pages of the torn up old phone book, the lines of people impatiently waiting and finding some loose change to make a call. The frustration of the broken ones when you were stranded somewhere. But perhaps it made us all more resourceful as we had to nut out ways to stay in touch. But I don’t miss the smell of a well used phone box late on a Saturday night when out with my friends.

So, have we become spoilt by the ease of having ready to use technology at our fingertips? In some ways maybe we have. However, during a few recent natural disasters, I have found my mobile phone to be a life line quite literally. Likewise when in hospital recovering from a fall my mobile phone kept me in communication with my family as I arranged my after care.

My sister can ring me from New Zealand on Messenger for free and and I can see her face and admire her cats. I can use my phone as a sat nav in unknown terrain. It can measure my heart rate and let emergency services know if I fall over. It tells me the weather and where to find the mayonnaise in the supermarket. It plays music and tells me my banking account details. And so much more. In fact it has become my friend.

So love them or hate them, mobile phones are here to stay. For me, it has made my life so much easier. I have one friend who refuses to have one, and because she cannot be kept in the loop about outings, she gets grumpy – but hey, that’s her choice. What about you?

How do you feel about mobile phones?

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