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A marvel of communication


October 8, 2012
Billie Shelton ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

So now I can drive down the road in my car speaking out loud when there is nobody else in the vehicle, as I talk on my cell phone. It's so convenient and safe, as it's meant to be, and I can use those marginal minutes to make the calls I want to or need to. It's easy, and it keeps me company in my little car when I'm commuting.

Yet somehow I wonder if I'll get pulled over for talking to myself while I'm driving. Or if the drivers in any cars around me will wonder about this lady who is apparently having quite a conversation with herself as she drives down the road.

Such musings are all thanks to the cell phone, that small vehicle of communication that is a cornerstone of our culture in this 21st century. Of course, many-if not most-of these miniature objects of communication are Smart Phones that do everything. And just think. These marvels of technology are so small they fit in a pocket.

Information I checked on reported that 83 percent of all U.S. adults have a cell phone and 42 percent of those own a smart phone. From what I see, it's no longer just 20-something, young professionals who have a smart phone. And for nearly one-quarter of those with a Smart phone, it is their primary Internet access instead of a laptop or desktop computer. So I guess it's no surprise, then, that we are so accustomed to seeing cell phones in use at every turn, not just in the car but while people are walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, at a meeting. Just last Sunday my cell phone rang while I was in church. During a prayer, of course. The second time it happened people snickered.

Consider now what a marvel of communication the simple telephone is and how far we've journeyed since the advent of Alexander Graham Bell's invention in 1875. While I am not old enough to remember when the old oak crank phones were common in most every household, I do remember the crank phones that came after them. I wish that part of my memories included asking an operator to connect me to my grandma's house, for instance.

But what I really remember is when dial phones came on the scene. I believe that our local cooperative telephone exchange was the first in the state (or one of the first) to install dial telephones for all subscribers. Our exchange had letters (VA6) where the first three digits were. While I could no longer be connected to my grandma's house just by asking the operator, all I had to do was dial the last four digits of their number (I still remember it was 3361) to reach them.

And now, here we are: I still communicate with my people by phone; some more than others. Only the phone is no longer attached to the wall of the kitchen. It stays in my pocket most of the time.



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