Friday, September 16, 2016

I Liked It Better When ... #2

By Tom Phillips

To say "I liked it better when .." is NOT to argue that life in general was better long ago.  Many things are better now.  But as the song says, "something's lost, and something gained, in living every day.."  This occasional feature is a catalog of things lost, or on the way out, that used to make life richer or more enjoyable.

Today's contribution is from Linda Given of Somerville, MA.  She writes: 

I liked it better when you didn’t know who would answer the phone, or have to choose one person to call when you wanted to leave a message for a group.  I often wound up chatting with a friend’s father, or sister back in high school days, and later with friend’s children or spouses or roommates - it was a nice, casual and occasional way to develop a relationship.  And a corollary notion: I liked it when my phone rang and I had no idea who was calling.  Saying hello before I heard the caller’s voice. There was anticipation - it could be anyone, someone I hadn’t heard from for years, or - it might be something completely mundane. 

 I also liked it better when you called someone, and knew they would be at home when they answered the phone. Now that people can take their phones with them, they could be anywhere, and I once had the odd experience of breaking the news of a death to someone who then told me she was standing in line at CVS.  I’m attached to my cell phone, love its camera, and for various reasons, have actually given up my landline.  It’s certainly convenient to be able to make a call absolutely anytime, but I also liked it better when you didn’t feel you needed to be reachable 24/7.  I liked being out with a friend and with no possibility of either of us feeling like we had to answer the phone, liked the space it created of “I am really with this person.”  That doesn’t really happen as much, we’ve all become differently wired. And a little something I realized when I recently started dating for the first time in 30 years - you are also always aware that someone you want to call you is not calling you when you carry your phone with you all day.  Its silent presence is a constant reminder. Oddly, though technically more connected, I often feel less so.  Even my closest friends often text me a question instead of calling and I miss the sound of their voices.  But sometimes I think back to pre-telephone days, when people heard from each other only by post.  I’m sure telephones seemed both miraculous and intrusive at first. I sometimes suspect that my complaints are part of an inevitable nostalgia for my own past.  But recently I was talking to a niece of 33 on the phone and when I asked how her husband was, she said “he’s right here, you can ask him.” When she got back on, she told me that she’d realized that with cell phones you don’t randomly talk to others in a household and that she wanted to actively try to make that happen.  A nice reminder that we can try to save what we appreciate about the old ways as we forge on with the new!  
-- Linda Given 

Do you miss something that's past, or passing?  Write it up in 500 words or less, starting with "I liked it better when ..."  

Email as a Word attachment to:   Articles may be edited for length and clarity.  Can't wait to see yours!

Copyright 2016 by Tom Phillips 

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