Cell phones are forty years old. In my world, that's getting up there. This is primarily because I spend my days with people who are generally one fifth to one tenth my age. Even the majority of the staff with whom I serve are younger than the cellular telephone. It's curious to me that I don't have more of a connection with a piece of technology that has been with us for the past four decades.
We have Martin Cooper, an engineer with Motorola, to thank for this advance that is now so ubiquitous that I can't remember a time when there weren't cell phones. Chances are if it hadn't been Mister Cooper who came up with "the brick," it would have come about some other way. This need to be constantly in touch must have come from some latent seventies encounter group-based feel-good vibe that started with the idea that we might, in fact, buy the world a Coke. It was a simpler time. There were less than four billion people on the planet then.
Times change. By 2015, it is expected that there will be more than one billion smartphones in the hands of the population that has nearly doubled. Thank goodness for call-waiting and voice mail. And that goes double for caller ID. Of course these days, not many people are using their cellular telephones for making calls, not when you can send texts and Google and play Angry Birds. That miracle of the first cell phone call forty years ago now seems pretty mundane. This rather pervasive use of cell phones has altered the legal landscape as much as the social. There are those who might even suggest that we ban their use while crossing the street.
All of this communication has created an environment where we tend to connect less. My favorite example of this is the couple sitting at a restaurant across the table from one another, and while one is checking for e-mail, the other is listening for messages. All of this "smart" technology probably won't slow down anytime soon. Google Glasses will soon adorn the faces of the next generation. The generation that my son has suggested will be "able to ignore you while looking straight at you." How nice. How very, very nice.