Friday, January 21, 2011

Without Smartphones or Cell Service, Noticed Social Changes

Should I get an iPhone 5 or the next best and greatest Android device later in the year? Or should I just stick with my iPod touch and iSpot setup? Well, I'm months away from having to decide. However, here's a short story I wanted to share with you in the meantime regarding mobile and the social changes I've observed in the last decade or so.

Just a recap about my current telephony situation. I've got a landline which no one uses except the alarm company and the police. Second, my mobile use is just the iPod touch and my iSpot from Clearwire (who I am more confident is going to okay financially). I use Google Voice, Skype, or Whistle phones to dial and receive calls and for receiving SMS. No cell phone service anymore.

Last night, 90 minutes before the Kings-Coyotes game, I called *(via Skype at home on the iPad) the two friends up to confirm the time and location we were going to meet outside the Staple Center. Where the Chick Hearns statue is at 1915. It was easy.

Know how to get there? Okay. You don't want to carpool there? Fine. It's Thursday night in LA and downtown traffic will be nuts. You understand that right? Excellent. See you guys at the game. Drive safely.

That was it. It was like high school. It was like in college. It was basically the time before everyone had mobile phones. It was a time before we could screw around with schedules on the fly.

It was a time when a commitment to time and place meant something. Sure, there were some folks whose DNA deemed that they must be late every freaking time but we adjusted. Now, if you're early or on time (like I am all the time), well, that's your choice. Meeting at 6 means 6:30 or even 7.

Without anyway to contact me now, folks will be forced to go back to what it was like. Just like last night. I had the tix and there was no freaking way I was gonna way for folks who were late. Kings got shutout last night. However, that isn't the point. Point is that I was gonna go enjoy the full game.

After the game, we decided to go grab a bite. I carpooled with a friend who was familiar with the night life downtown. He told the other friend where to go. He had a cell phone as did the other guy. I walked away with a feeling that the directions to the restaurant wasn't very clear. At least, it wasn't to me.

My friend and I got there first. The other friend got lost. So he called. Which was fine. But before the days of instant communications, he would have made sure he darn well knew exactly where to go or else, he was knew he was not going to make it to dinner with us.

So last night, I saw both worlds. One without cell phones and another with. On one hand, we had to commit our schedule before meeting up like in the old days. On the other, it is as it is now. People rely on their mobiles to get them to place and not necessarily on schedule.

I think I've got an excellent opportunity to embark on something here. An experiment to see just how people around me adjust to live as I've effectively broken the link that smartphones have established for the last few years. Maybe they'll realized the need to establish and stick to time commitments. Maybe I'll be chastised and be left out of social circles. As for the latter, it is one that I am willing to risk just to see how it works out.

As you know, I'm a big fan of mobile. I carry around two smartphones (though without services) and an iPad. And I'm likely to add a Web OS or Android tablet some time this year. So you know me. Huge mobile warrior. I can't live without my gadgets.

But I am trying to live without mobile and bring back a bit of social order and commitment that I once knew. I'm not asking for much here. I see mobile as a tool and not as a means to an excuse about being tardiness or changing plans on the fly.

What do you think? Regardless, I'll be back after a few weeks to let you know how it goes. My guess is I'll have things my way. Last night highlighted the change and difference between then and now as far as how mobile has influenced our social behaviors. In the month that I've stopped using mobile, folks have had to adapt.

It's early but I'm liking where this is going.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod touch

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