Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Pitfalls of Cell Phone Technology

Technology.  It’s wonderful and it’s a pain in the butt all at the same time. 

Take phones for example.  The telephone has made some dramatic changes in a relatively short amount of time.  Everyone has their own phone number now.  No more sharing phone lines and listening for the right ring combination.  Can you imagine sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring only to have the ring combination be for your neighbor?

Not that long ago talking on the phone meant being chained to a small area with a cord.  Now we have cordless phones that don’t work when the power goes out. 

Cell phones were invented after the idea was conceived on Star Trek.  That alone is amazing.  A popular science fiction television show was the inspiration for cellular technology. 

I am grateful for cell phones.  Houston Cellular helped me pay my bills my sophomore year of college.  I was a telemarketer trying to get people to buy cell phones over the phone.  After a long day of classes I called mostly older people trying to convince them that a cell phone was a good idea.  Emergency use and only paying for minutes used were my best rebuttals.  By the middle of the six hour shift I could barely say the word cellular correctly.  All that aside, I hit goal more often than I missed it.  Then I was moved onto other projects and Bell South’s Houston Cellular faded away. 

Cell phones are interesting.  Some people only have cell phones.  Some people refuse to use one because that’s just another way for them to be reached. 

My pet peeve with cell phones is the voice mail.  This is what usually happens to me.  I call someone and they, of course, are unavailable.  First of all, isn’t that the point of a cell phone?  That it’s permanently attached to your hip?  Isn’t that why you gave me your cell number saying it’s the best way to reach you?  What are the chances I manage to call you every time you’re in the bathroom?

While their message plays I’m frantically trying to think of what to say.  I always get voice mail when I was really hoping to just talk to the person.  Sometimes I pray for voice mail and that’s when I get the live person.  Murphy’s Law.  I come up with something to say and then I have to wait another 10 minutes. 

What is up with voice mail instructions?  “The person you are trying to reach is not available.”  I know.  The person just said that and now I need a computer voice to tell me again!  “Please record your message after the tone.”  Again, I was just told that by the person I was trying to reach!  Then the arbitrary stuff.  The stuff that makes me completely lose my train of thought because it takes so long for the computer voice to get through it all. 

“To leave a call back number press 5.  To send a numeric page press the letter B.  Press the pound key if you feel heavy after you eat a large meal.  Press the star key if you would like to speak to a Hollywood star.  Press 2 if your eyes are green.  After your message you can press 1 to listen to your message and if you like it you can press Y to send it.  Or you can simply hang up.  Press zero if you can’t remember what to do.  Or stay on the line for more options.  (Pause pause pause) Press the umlaut key if you want to hear these options again.  Oh you don’t have an umlaut key?  Please wait for the tone.”

Good heavens!  By the time all that is finished my message sounds like this:

“Uh . . . um . . . I can’t remember who I’m calling or why . . . wait!  I got it!  This is Tristan and I’m calling you because”


Cut off again!  Then the computer voice comes back on and gives me another 10 minutes of instructions on keeping or re-recording the message and how to book a flight to the Bermuda Triangle in case I didn’t get how to delete the message. 

The message is sent.  Then I sink into a heap on the floor. 

This is why I never give out my cell number.  I certainly wouldn’t want to inflict the computer voice on a dog I didn’t like.  Besides, I never answer my phone and rarely have it charged.  Technology really is wonderful and a pain in the butt all at the same time. 


  1. Hi Tristan,

    I'm a member of a Tweepup group here in the Poconos. We meet every other week for coffee and a discussion of social media. During yesterday's meet, someone mentioned that he responds by calling when someone sends him a text. I countered that if he called me when I sent him a text, I would stop texting him. That started a lively discussion of how people use phones, texting, and voice mail. The result of the unscientific survey: eight people - eight different sets of pet peeves about the various technologies. LOL

    What makes perfect sense to one person, drives the next person crazy. I guess that there are no hard and fast rules about the emerging technologies and that we will just have to accept what you wrote at the end of your post as the new reality: "Technology really is wonderful and a pain in the butt all at the same time." Ray

  2. Hi Ray,

    I could believe eight people would all have different pet peeves about technology. That's funny. Everybody is different. I think you nailed it when you said "what makes perfect sense to one person, drives the next person crazy."



Now that I've shared my thoughts, what are your thoughts?