If you were going to be late for an appointment back in 1993, the only way you could let them know would be to either just rock up late and then explain why you weren’t there, or stop and find a pay phone (which would make you even later), or use your car phone (which only the privileged few had). Even though the cell phone and the email were invented as long ago as the 1970s, these technologies did not gain wide acceptance and use until the mid-1990s, so they are, in effect, almost a 21st Century phenomenon.
Much social commentary has been delivered on what an anti-social bunch we have become, what with our faces glued to our phones during dinner, in the middle of conversations with other real human beings in a face-to-face setting, in the middle of movies (a particularly annoying habit as the light is distracting), and on the roads (a rather dangerous – and illegal – habit). Of course the other scourge of modern living is the sedentary lifestyles we all lead, stuck behind a PC most of the day, and then behind a smart phone for a good few hours of the rest of it. Many of us are the fatter for it, or slaves to a gym contract since we can now even order pizza online…
Well, there’s no turning back. What would life be without a Facebook update? How on earth could we communicate with people on the other side of it, if it weren’t for Skype? How could we create digital interest boards and spawn creative new ideas if it weren’t for Pinterest?
Sure, there should be rules (like the banning of phones and TV at the dinner table, and in this case Eskom has done wonders for our social re-connections), but to deny the benefits of these devices is to deny who we have become. I, for one, am only too glad to have a cell phone ready in a car emergency, knowing with comfort that the AA is just a short call away.