Thoughts on phones

The cycle repeats over and over. You embrace something new to make your life simpler, and it works that way for a little while, but then it basically leaves you in the same spot you were in before.

For example, cell phones. I got one once so that if I needed to call someone, I could. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, I could contact the people I needed to contact. If my wife needed me, she could call. Jump forward a few years, and I don’t even answer the damn thing. I will read a text message though. Send me a text, and I’ll get it and be able to respond. If you need to get ahold of me, send a text. Jump again, and now I don’t even look at texts. Twitter comes into text messages, reminders come into text messages, voice mail triggers a text message, my dog sends me text messages. WTF?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame the technology. I’m the one who is implementing it wrong, for sure. I am trying to get a handle on it, and I am cutting back. I am trying to get things to work for me instead of me becoming a slave, and I have a LOT of experience working this out. Here’s a few:

An apartment: My first apartment, at a beach town no less, everyone was welcome. If you needed a place to crash, you had one. And every single person I knew did. Constantly. Eventually, if I didn’t know that you were coming over, I didn’t answer the door.

Land line: When I got my first land phone line (in the apartment) , everyone could call, and they did. Then I stopped answering the phone unless I knew you were supposed to call. Not even then sometimes.

Answering machine: What a great invention! For about a day. Dodging calls, screening calls, the whole thing. “Pick up! I know you are there! I’m outside your house on my new cell phone.” Now I don’t even listen to the messages, and they get emailed to me when they are recorded. How lazy can I be? BTW, if you leave me a message, just leave minor details. I don’t listen that far. Actually, don’t leave a message. I just see on the caller ID that you called and I’ll call you back.

Call waiting: I have hated this since day one. If I am on the phone, I am talking to someone. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to have every freaking call interrupt me like a 6 year old (and I know all about this) was insane or had no kids.

Email: Remember when it was cool to get a funny email with a cute dog photo? 1992 was great, right? Cut it out! And then, take a few minutes and write a message that makes sense. And put a fricking subject in. I swear I will kill Travis the next time he sends me an email with the subject of “Hey”. Plus, if the topic is too complex to be covered in 160 to 400 characters, call me. Or better yet, walk over to my cube and we can talk in person. Just don’t leave me a phone message saying you sent me an email. I will slap you.

Cell Phones, Text messages, Blogs, Twitter, Brain Wave Syncing ARRRRGHHHH! They all go the same way. Great at first, then I avoid them because they cease to be a tool for my convenience, and they become a tool for someone else’s convenience. <—— Major point here

Here’s the important part: I love technology. I love that every new thing follows the same old path as the last new things. To me this is a huge opportunity for learning. Every new thing follows the same old rules as when the first nomad wandered into a new tent camp. Community is something that humans crave and need. Let’s figure out ways to make it work FOR us instead of enslaving us. That’s what I’m about. I want to build things that allow people to use technology to their advantage, not for a marketing audience.

Tell me what you think. Argue. Prove me wrong. Let’s be a community. Bring it. I’m not afraid.

Oh, yeah, open source rules!