About a decade ago, one of my kids was going through a first crush. He pursued the object of his affection by texting — 2,165 times in one month to be exact. At 10 cents per text, the bill came to $216.50. I called to plead for mercy.
It was suggested that I upgrade to an unlimited plan for an additional $40 per month and sign on for another two years. I felt the noose tightening around my neck. I coughed up $600 to buy my way out of that contract and have not had a cellphone since.
Yes, I really said that. I do not have a cellphone, not even one of the cheap ones that come in the bottom of cereal boxes. When I tell people this, they regard me with pity and wonder, as though I still rode a horse.
It is hard to feel like I am missing out, though. Everywhere I go, people are pecking away like chickens on some electronic gadget. I cannot be alone with a friend anymore. Their friends and friends' friends are always there with us. To begin a conversation I must first snap my fingers, as if to break a spell.
I realize I sound like a grumpy old man. The printing press, the telephone and television all met with similar objections. I can imagine someone in the 1500s complaining about Gutenberg's press: "I can't go anywhere without bumping into someone with his head in a book!"
Each advance has broadened the breadth of relationships at the expense of depth. What if you had to tell your kids stories instead of read them books? What if you had to go over to your neighbor's house instead of calling them on the phone? What if there was no television and you had to interact with your family?
Probably, resistance is futile. I will be assimilated. I am pretty sure I do not want to be, though. It is hard to imagine how our new electronically connected community will not be more like a machine than a man.