The Accelerating Obsolescence of Modern Life


This week my phone started dying. Yes that essential piece of technology for travellers started to fail me after four faithful years. In 2011, it was a swish new smartphone and I willingly went on a learning curve after leaving behind the other one, whose type escapes me. Four years is a long time when it comes to communications technology and modern life itself. Four years ago I hadnt started to travel or write much but was living a quiet life with my cat Hamish  on the south coast of  New South Wales.
Everything changed in 2012 and my trusty, still new to me, phone came with me in 2012. It kept me connected to friends, loved ones and home owners throughout my journeys in Australia and overseas.

Until last week. I only discovered it was failing me when I wanted to keep in daily contact with my son who was recovering from an unexpected appendicitis operation. I assumed there must be something wrong when he hadn’t texted back after two days but then discovered I could not recieve his texts only as I had received texts from others. After two days of problem solving with disinterested and unhelpful customer support people, it became clear that it was my phone that was the problem.
In July I had to replace my tablet after two years of service and the last thing I felt like doing was being bamboozled  by sales people who want to confuse and create fear-dont buy from someone else they may have ‘grey’ stock for heaven’s sake.

It was a simple request
      ‘I now use my tablet and not my phone for a lot of  functions so I just want a simple phone’
Naturally I was shown the top of the range and as we went lower had everying pointed out which those pieces of machinery lacked. It was as though, while nodding their heads, they hadn’t heard a single or  mutiple word I had said.


But why would I even consider the top of the range when it just duplicates the functions of the tablet and will be obsolete within a much shorter time than my now dying old phone?

I remember a phone call before the mobile. It was a qualitatively different experience. When I was growing up my mother had a phone table in the hallway. When the old dial up phone rang we left the lounge room closed the door and sat at the half round table with the seat attached and had a conversation. You sat down to stop other activities and listen. While listening you might look up at the pictures on the wall or use the pen and paper by the phone to capture essential information. If the conversation was from a loquacious Aunt, you might flip through the phone books secreted in the hollow benearh the table top. My mother was a very garrulous person who could be quite fiesty. She had a close but tempestuous relationship with her sister Jean and I recall hearing the word ‘rubbish’ used quite  a bit during those calls!. I used to stifle a laugh knowing that as soon as she had finished the conversation, my mother would come in and review why she was right and her sister wrong.

Nowadays we  talk on the go. Rarely do we sit and listen, but with our eyes assaulted by visual pollution of city life or diverted by a pleasant view, we participate at a very low level in the communication. We are sure we’ve heard  but havent listened. Such a thing has occurred so quickly in our behaviour and we have never challenged it. So many of the behaviours which helped us understand each other better are becoming obsolescent in the face of rapid rechnological change.
After two days of research I’ve made up my mind about a new phone choice. I’ll  be going to the store tomorrow so wish me luck and persistence in  being hward.

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