I remember handling my first ever cell phone, very clearly. My mother was one of the first distributors (or maybe the first) of mobile phones in South Africa for Vodacom. It was 1994, I was 11 and my mom let me take into school for a “show and tell”. It was a Siemens S 1. I might be remembering the size wrong but I think it was about 20cm by 5cm and probably about 7cm in thickness. Vodacom hadn’t actually set any lines up and nobody else had a mobile phone, so there wasn’t anyone to call but the potential of this device was still extremely exciting. A few years later, I was given an orange Siemens S10 for occasional use, and I would make calls and text the few people I knew who had phones. I remember the line quality being absolutely atrocious, and we’d have to run all around the house and sometimes outside to get a decent signal, which still wasn’t great. We didn’t really have much on our phones those days, SMS, calls and there was also Snake; only the best game ever.
And as things moved on, suddenly it wasn’t important that you could actually store 250 contacts on your phone so you didn’t have to remember everyone’s number off the top of your head; now some phones came with an FM signal so you could listen to the radio, and then they came with calendars where you could store your important dates electronically (how amazing) cameras and then the internet was becoming a big deal and everything was moving so fast, that cell phones started to change from just phones to carrying a little bit of our lives in them and are now are almost a part of our anatomy.
Of course I need all my apps, I wouldn’t have downloaded them otherwise, but sometimes I ask myself whether I need all this other stuff on my phone, that just comes as standard. I keep upgrading my phone but how often do I even use any of these features? The camera, the torch, the compass, the calendar, the calculator, is there a point? I actually monitored myself this week, to see how often I use them. My calendar and alarm gets used every single day, probably more than 15 times; being dyspraxic I’d forget my own birthday if I didn’t set a reminder – in fact I regularly forget how old I am, and it’s quite pleasant when I find out I’m actually two years younger than I think. The torch gets used at least once a night when I don't want to wake my husband up on a toilet trip and also saves me from bumbling about the house if I’m going to my volunteering job at 3am. The calculator is useful when I want to check how much I’ve spent on different stores online shopping, while the compass gets used about 3 times a week if I’m in an unfamiliar place and need to pray, so I’ve got to figure out the direction and of course the camera is probably the most used app on there; my twins are constantly performing for me so I can record their antics to save for when they’re older.
So does my phone need all of those gadgets? The answer is yes, just because we didn’t have them before, it doesn’t mean it was better before. I mean we didn’t have anti-biotics before, and that was a disaster.
There’s still some nostalgia for those days when I was exercising my brain, and knew everyone’s number off the top of my head, but not enough to say I don’t want the latest Samsung (which incidentally, is available on Buyizzy.com).