The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

October 20, 2012

Mike Pound: Teens learn they can talk on phones, too

My wife walked into our family room where I was watching the St. Louis Cardinals game on TV and gave me a strange look.

“All right,” I said. “I’ll switch back to the Bravo Channel.”

“It’s not that,” my wife said. “I just went up to talk to Emma but she said she couldn’t talk to me.”

“Why not?” I asked, only half paying attention because the Cardinals had runners on base.

“Because she was talking to a friend ON THE PHONE,” my wife said.

I turned off the TV.

“I KNOW!” my wife said.

I didn’t know that Emma, our 14-year-old daughter, understood that she could actually use her phone to talk to friends. To my knowledge, Emma has never used her phone to talk to anyone but her parents. I always figured Emma thought that she could only use her phone to talk to old people. I used to think Emma’s friends felt the same way.

You can’t blame them, really. I mean they look around and the only people talking on their phones are old people. Most young people probably figure that old people use their phones to talk because they can’t see to text. Most young people might have a point.

When I was Emma’s age (Warning to young people: Story about how bad old people had it when they were young coming up) my family only had one phone, and it was — gasp — attached to the wall. To call someone you had to put your finger in a round dial and spin it (the dial, not your finger). You repeated that process for every number. By the time I finished dialing the number, my parents were hollering at me to get off the phone so I wouldn’t “tie up the line!”

What I’m saying is that talking on the phone, when I was a kid, was a big deal. Folks from my generation loved talking on the phone. And when we got older, moved away and had phones of our own, we spent hours talking on them just to prove that we could.

When I was a kid you could only buy your phone from THE phone company. That’s right, today’s young people, there used to be only one phone company. The phone company, when I was a kid, was big and mean, but then the government broke it up into a bunch of smaller, meaner phone companies. Those companies evolved into the big, mean phone companies we have today.

It’s the circle of monopoly.

When I was a kid, our phone choices were pretty much restricted to white phones or black phones. Today there are hundreds of phones to choose from, and usually, about 30 minutes after you buy a new phone, they come out with a newer, improved version of the phone you just bought. And then, a month later, when something goes wrong with your phone and you take it in to get it fixed the phone people get all excited.

“Hey Scooter, get a load of this,” one phone person will holler to the other.

“Wow, I don’t believe it. It’s a Smartphone 5450. I haven’t seen one of these in weeks. Here, let me get a picture of it on my new ReallyReallySmarterphone 5450.5.”

But now Emma has begun to use her phone as a talking device. Maybe the world is changing. Maybe kids have grown tired of texting and chatting and tweeting and have decided to actually talk to each other face to face. Maybe teenagers today are starting to act like we did when we were teenagers.

On second thought, maybe Emma should go back to texting.

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