Back then, I saw pagers for what they were, a ball and chain. Today, nurses, including myself, still wear pagers when they are on call. It provides a bit more coverage, and a bit better privacy than a cell phone. To this day, when I go on call and clip an electronic pager to my belt, it makes me feel like I am wearing an ankle bracelet from the Sheriff's office. It is not an emblem of self importance to me, it is proof that someone, somewhere can send an electronic signal to their monkeys, and like Pavlov's dog, we will respond. I despise that little black box. It's a tangible sign that I am not in total control of my life, that I am a slave to my employer.
Cellphones soon followed pagers, and the general public traded in the boring beeper for the cellphone. The electronic communication device as status symbol did not die though. Clips were put on cellphones so they could be worn on the belt, just like a pager, to show one's sense of style and importance. While my cohorts carry the latest Razor, BlackBerry or iPhone, I carry a battered flip cellphone that I refuse to replace until it gives out. I do not understand why cellphone companies cannot design a durable phone for Neanderthal users like myself. I don't want text messaging. I don't need or even know what voice mail is........All I want is a way to answer the pager when I am at the range and it starts beeping.
Many cellphone users do not see the cellphone for what it is. It is an unnecessary device of convenience that many could easily do without. We have become convinced that it is a necessity, like a toaster, a dishwasher, a........Wait a minute, those are not necessities either. A cellphone has taken the place of the pager for many people, a symbol that they are worthwhile, a validation of their existence, that they are somehow important enough for someone to want to talk to them.
Last night I suffered through a play in which I was surrounded by cellphone users. No less than five were on either side of me and in front of me, yakking into the damn things, text messaging into the damned things, and ruining the experience of the theater for everyone around them. That theater held over 300 people. I have to wonder how may cellphone minutes were used during the time that these morons had paid to see a play. A play is supposed to be a means of escaping the drudgery of one's life. Why would anybody even consider going to the theater and talking on a cellphone the entire time? What was so damned important that those calls could not be avoided?
If the matters were that important, then why did the person stay at the play and yammer into their link to their pathetic little worlds? Why not leave and go take care of the problem?
No, in our hedonistic Paris Hilton wannabe wonderland of self indulgent egotistical bullshit existence, digital dialogue has become an emotional crutch, a reminder that a person exists, that a person matters, assurance that a person's life will not run away without them if they step away for a while. It's a pathetic ego stroke for the co-dependent ranger, who cannot exist for a couple of hours without contact with the mothership. Hell, today 10 year old children have cellphones! Who is paying the bills on this stuff? Who is making the money? Why do people think they need it?
Believe it or not, there was a time that people, even children, ventured forth without electronic umbilical cords. People took vacations to get away from their telephone. They got away from their house. They went places with people they loved, spent time with them talking face to face, and they built enduring relationships rather than cellphone debt. What have we become? We have been sold a false bill of goods, a surreptitious nihilistic bill of goods, and our society is lapping it up like blind puppies lapping up antifreeze. Cellphones do not bring us together, No. They drive us apart. They do not build society, they destroy the possibilities of functioning in a society without them. For one day, if you are a cellphone ranger, turn it off. You will live.