By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
I remember growing up with one phone in our house. It was considered a luxury, not a necessity. You couldn’t take the phone outside, but if you were out in public, there were things called phone booths.
If you’re thirty or younger, you can Google “phone booths” to see what I’m talking about. The other day I read about a collector (of what the article didn’t say) who bought a “gently” restored (mostly original parts) 1905 phone booth for $35,000! Who knew?
Part of the reason that old phone booth sold for $35,000 was because it was a first of it’s kind. It really looked nice with a solid wood panel door and double-glass windows and walls for sound proofing.
I seldom used phone booths. They always made me claustrophobic. I seldom called anyone until I was a teenager, at which time my calls were made from home so I didn’t have to put my money into a pay phone. Another reason I didn’t like phone booths.
At no time - and you can quote me - was I ever worried about having to make a phone call. If an emergency came up I dealt with it. The result wasn’t always pretty, but I’m still here, right?
I assure you, the idea of carrying a phone around with me was as foreign as those little people in Asia fighting over some country called Vietnam. I never dreamt of the possibility. I was clueless as to the onrushing technology that would soon be found in nearly every American home.
In 1977, my second son was born and the first cell phone was made in Chicago. Then companies in other places started to make cell phones. As you may suspect, there are now more cell phones than landline phones.
The results of last year’s semiannual US wireless industry survey (go to http://www.ctia.org/advocacy/research/index.cfm/AID/10316 ) were stunning to say the least; 91 percent of Americans have a mobile phone!
All of which leads me to my main point today: The fear of being without your mobile phone is on the rise. The experts even have a name for this fear; nomophobia, or No Mobile Phobia. It’s defined as the anxiety a person feels when out of range of a cell phone tower, or if they don’t have their mobile phone with them for some reason.
This phobia, according to a recent CBS News report, is a growing problem. A recent poll in the United Kingdom said sixty-six percent of respondents reported being nomophobic.
It came as no surprise to me that the 18 to 24-year olds were the most likely to report being afraid without their mobile phone. This new condition is a generational thing, from everything I’ve read thus far.
The younger you are, the more likely you will be stricken with this fear, according to the researchers. The study said women are more likely to worry than men if they don’t have their mobile phone with them. That makes sense to me.
The study also concluded that “more than one in two” nomophobes never switch off their mobile phones.
Old timers like myself are less likely to panic if we forget to take our cell phones with us. That’s not to say I haven’t got a tiny bit spoiled by the convenience of carrying one. I seldom use the thing, but I admit it’s comforting to know that if I fall down and can’t get up, I can fish it out of my pocket and call for help.
In a complete moment of transparency, I’m copping to a growing case of nomophobia! I can sympathize with those youngsters today who never knew about things like phone booths, and who got their first mobile phone when they learned how to string sentences together using abbreviations and popular slang.
There’s no turning back now. Any day I expect to hear that newborn cell phones - pink or blue, take your choice - will be given to new mothers and fathers when they check out of the hospital (sponsored by one of the megalithic mobile phone makers, of course).
It sure would be nice if I could swap phobias. Out with the old claustrophobia, and in with the new nomophobia.
As It Stands, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. I just have two phobias now.