I got my first cell phone when I was in middle school. It was a relatively simple device that had a black-and-white screen and was useful for basic phone calls that were supposed to be reserved for mostly emergencies and when I wanted to get picked up from school. I still used the land line at my house whenever I wanted to contact my friends and we would use three-way a lot to add more people into the conversation. Oh, how things have changed. I mean, I don’t even remember the last time I used the land line to make a call.
Back then, not that many of my friends had cell phones, and now, they’re everywhere. My youngest brother got his first cell phone in elementary school. And it’s not just here in the United States either. Cell phones have taken over the world.
Already, I’ve gone through at least five different cell phone models and I’ve long since moved way beyond the old black-and-white days to the colorific and app-tastic iPhone 4, which I am enjoying a lot. With the recent release of the iPhone 5, people are once again in a cell phone frenzy and are wondering how far phones will continue to develop in the future.
There’s this great article that my friend posted on Facebook written by Shivani Siroya, the CEO and Founder of InVenture, “a mobile technology company working in the developing world”. The article, featured on the Huffington Post, is called Is the iPhone 5 ‘Smart’ for Everyone? and investigates the way cell phones are changing the lives of people internationally “87 percent of the world has access to mobile.” That’s huge! And with the ease of communication comes the ease of relevant information to get across to people no matter where they are. People don’t just use their phones to talk anymore. We take pictures, we check stocks, we read the news, we read books. And in developing countries, cell phones are a great way to disseminate information that promotes health and financial literacy.
Even though cell phones connect people much easier, some of its side effects have also helped to make us feel more apart. I remember taking the shuttle from my apartment in Westwood to UCLA and realizing how quiet it was because everyone was just focused on their phones rather than each other. I imagined what it would be life if cell phones did not exist and whether the shuttle would be a little more full of conversation, but who knows?
Sometimes, we may underestimate just how much power a small device like this can have, but this invention has had a great global impact. People joke about what future incarnations of the iPhone will look like, but I don’t know if anybody today can really fathom how much communication will continue to change over the next few decades. Only maybe a decade ago, cameras in phones were a luxury, where now, most phones have to have that feature built in already just to be competitive.
It’s been over a century since the telephone made its first call, but however evolved it has come to become, it still maintains its original function of bringing distant individuals together.