Monday, November 18th, 2013
4

When Your Fingers Did The Walking

The kids don't know but the old folks are nodding their heads like crazy.I saw this photo last week and it made me realize that if the human race somehow survives for another hundred years, and not just in a living-in-holes and running-from-fires kind of way but actually in a warmer but not dissimilar world to the one we have now, we will reach a point in time where actors who star in period pieces set during the last century will have had no physical experience with a corded phone—no time spent tethered to an object mounted on a wall or planted in one corner of the room, twirling the cord around your arm until it left an impression on your skin, craning your neck to see the television, never being able to put the phone down for a second because it would snap back to the cradle, etc. Which is fine, I mean, good for them, it sucked, but unless they are like the Daniel Day-Lewises of 2052 they will not engage with those phones in the way that someone who spent any amount of time on them would, and there will be one more layer of artifice added to what is already a fake and silly enterprise. Again, in the scheme of things it doesn't matter one bit, and the odds are that we'll all be dead anyway, and if we're not (or, more accurately, you're not; I will be long gone) we won't have much time to worry about the verisimilitude of telephonic communication in movies or TV or God forbid web series. It is one of those things that will disappear and will be almost as impossible to describe to the generations yet unborn as the rotary dial is now. I only bring it up because on this day fifty years ago the people from Bell Telephone (another one that I guess you had to be there for) brought out the touchtone model, which was another thing we used to have before you'd swipe your germ-encrusted fingers on a glass screen to make contact with someone else who you are probably only texting with because who talks to each other anymore? Anyway, you could press buttons to dial a call! It was AMAZING. If someone asked you for someone else's number you would pantomime the physical act of dialing to help yourself remember it. The digits actually meant something. It took another 40 years before we realized what the pound sign was for, and once we finally did the geeks turned it into a giant honking indicator of some stupid inside joke you use to show all your friends how hip you are when really you are just another schmuck wasting time on a microblogging service while everything else is passing you by and you are being drawn inexorably closer to death. But I digress. Anyway, happy birthday push-button phone. I hope you are at peace in phone heaven.

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4 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

Why, Sonny, I remember when you had to get out of your chair to change the channel.

"Channels." Like on a TV.

A TV.

freetzy (#7,018)

/picks the big, beige cordless phone up off the charger; extends the silver antenna; pushes the big "TALK" button.

Incidentally (#6,730)

I saw a Lana Turner movie last night and she made a familiar hand gesture I had previously associated with old people and viewed it, like a crackling voice and shuffling steps, as just something old people did. Seeing this stunning blond do it struck me that, no, this is something people in the 40s did, and then they just got old. And I guess in 50 years when I give my ungrateful grandchildren the mahalo to the side of the face, they'll just attribute it to my arthritis rather than these century old machines I'm already starting to forget.

scrooge (#2,697)

"Anyway, you could press buttons to dial a call! It was AMAZING. If someone asked you for someone else's number you would pantomime the physical act of dialing to help yourself remember it."

For your information, young man, "dialing" really refers to the earlier kind of phone where you put your finger in a hole and rotated the dial until it hit the stop.

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