Picking up on cellphone obsession-TL

By Tammy Keith Originally Published March 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 22, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.
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Editor’s note: Tammy Keith is on vacation. This column originally appeared in this publication on March 4, 2012.

Hello, why are we obsessed with cellphones?

It dawned on me, as I was watching TV and saw the umpteenth cellphone commercial, how crazy it is the way cellphones have taken over our lives.

I come from a family of talkative women, and we have always loved talking on the phone.

One of my memories of my Nano, my grandmother on my mother’s side, is her perched on a little step stool near the phone on the wall, laughing and talking to a friend of hers.

When I was growing up, you could walk around to use the phone only as far as the cord would let you go. You could hide in a closet, maybe, or close the door to have a private conversation.

And, you might not have a private conversation if you were on a party line. And that didn’t mean you were having cake and balloons.

My family was on a party line for a while when I was in middle school, maybe even high school. We had a special ring meant for our family.

I distinctly remember eavesdropping on the kid down the highway because I’ve always been nosey.

I remember yelling at him to hang up when I was gossiping with a friend, too.

Having a phone in my bedroom was a big deal. I would lie on the bed with the phone sitting on my wooden footboard, and I remember the phone scratched the paint.

Phones came in different colors — I had a baby-blue one, I recall — and at some point, you could get character phones, like Snoopy or a Smiley Face. That’s about it.

No cordless phones, and I never heard the word cellphone.

A land line was something on a map. “Text” meant words in a book.

Nobody’s marriage broke up because of “texting” sexy sentiments or nekkid photos of themselves. We’d have to use our Polaroids for that and mail the photo to the person, or go up and hand someone the picture.

If you were driving and you were lost, you found a gas station or someone working in his yard to ask for directions.

If you wanted to look up a word, you used a big thick Webster’s dictionary.

Telephones were devices used to talk to people. Period.

The only games we could play on them is if we called and said, “Is your refrigerator running? Then you better go catch it!” Or, if we called a store and asked, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You better let him out; he’s suffocating!”

I never did such an immature thing, but I do remember calling and disguising my voice to play a trick on a friend.

We didn’t need a rule at school against bringing a telephone, and if we needed to use the phone, we had to go to the office.

We didn’t have cellphones to check in with our parents when we were out, either.

The first night I went to college, I stayed out too late. My parents had no way to get in touch with me, so my dad was climbing in his truck to come look for me when I got home.

We didn’t need laws about using a telephone while driving. When you were in the car, nobody could reach you.

You did not walk around with a phone literally attached to your body.

If your car broke down, you could walk to a gas station, knock on a stranger’s door or maybe find a pay phone.

I’m not saying I don’t like my cellphone — and I eventually will beat my husband in Hanging With Friends.

It just seems that instead of everyone having a cellphone, the truth is, cellphones have us. I call that a little crazy.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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