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May 22nd, 2003 - dmv/blogs/lj

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May 22nd, 2003


11:57 am - Call me
At this time I believe it may be legitimate to claim that my Samsung 8500 cell phone is my longest lasting piece of daily-use electronics. At this time, my phone reports 24224 minutes of airtime use. 16.82 days. I bought it in August 2000. At some point I may go back and find my previous entry where I talked about usage, to see the direction of the usage delta.

At my reunion, a classmate declared I was the first person she knew who owned a cell phone. This was when I was in high school; when I learned to drive, my mom got an analog phone, and then a digital one. She claimed she was buying it for my dad, and for emergencies in the car. My dad had, and has, a great lack of desire for a cellphone (although he loves to borrow and use mine whenever I'm around). But the net result was that I had a phone in high school, when they were still stigmatized.

Talk was made of the coming brain tumors -- I argue that the brain tumors will be the societal version of Iraqi WMDs... either they will come (where are they?) or they won't, and it won't come up because now the great ill is cell-phone driving or whatever next issue there is. I was reminded of this attitude last night, watching an old episode of Family Guy, where they went off on a riff about how stupid cell phones are and that you get one to look cool and even with a cellphone shaped brain tumor you would still be an envy. That kind of commentary has fallen off. Because now, the fastest way to get one is declare "I'll never own a cellphone". Empirically, anectodally, the average time is 8 days after such a statement.

I remember going to Europe, in 1998, and seeing how pervasive cell phone use was. What struck me the most was not how many there were -- but how little social notice was made of it. In the US, when you used a cellphone -- discretely, off to the side on a sidewalk -- people would stare and judge. Not true in Europe, and I argued that it just showed that Europe was about 5 years ahead. That's true. You can sit at a bus stop on a cellphone, and no one notices. It is all about critical mass, when enough people have them and the costs are not unmanagable.

Over 16 days, straight, of cellphone use. So that's where my life went.

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