One November, possibly 1989 by my best estimate, my answering machine message was me "BOK-BOK-BOKKING" like a turkey. Remember when answering machine messages instilled an inordinate amount of pressure to sound cool or funny? I was in undergraduate school. Being professional wasn't on my radar yet. I felt the need to be quirky with the answering machine.
Today, I don't make voice mail messages. The thrill is gone. The default "your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system" recording is good enough.
And I don't carry a pager anymore. Remember those?
A phone was different when I was an adolescent and teenager. How we used it was different! And waiting for someone to pick up on the other end...before answering machines...we could be so patient!
Someone from the other room would yell, "Hang up! They're not home!"
"No, no, they might pick up! She said she'd be home."
We hadn't suspected or invented screening calls yet.
I can remember walking to see people--not calling people on the phone. We would knock on doors...now, I think I might jump out of my skin if someone ever knocked on the door of our house.
In college, we would walk into strange dorm rooms and foreign apartments just because we knew one person who would invite us in. Barely any furniture. Maybe a huge computer stacked together on the floors. A few ashtrays. We'd sit on the floor. Meet new people. The door would be open to a common area or the hallway.
Back at our place, we used the phone to call our family. Maybe friends at another school. But as far as the people around us, the people we saw on a daily basis...I can't remember calling those guys much, if ever. Now, we don't even use a land line in our house. We just use the devices in our pockets.
Recently, I joked with a small group of colleagues that I have a bone to pick with the new generation of teachers. A jealous bone. I'm jealous of their college experience with smart phones. All it took for them to find their friends was to send a text message--especially late on a Friday or Saturday night.
In the 80s, Sweet Honey Iced Tea! finding your friends was almost all luck. We would walk all over campus--dorm to dorm, fraternity to steak shop, student union back to the dorms--and the people you ran into, that is who you hung out with.
Our younger colleague--the one who grew up with and went to college with a smart phone, quipped, "Yeah, I don't understand how any of you ever made any friends!"
I almost wonder.