from the everything's-amazing-and-nobody's-happy dept
When I was a kid in the 1960s and we came back from a visit to my grandmother's, my mother used to call my grandmother, let the phone ring twice, and then hang up. It was important for my grandmother to know that we'd arrived home safely, but long-distance telephone calls were too expensive to indulge in unnecessarily. When I entered Vanderbilt University in 1971, my parents had to decide whether to pay for a telephone in my dorm room. They decided to do so, but most of the thoroughly upper-middle-class students on my floor did not have phones. Phones cost real money back then. Then came the breakup of the AT&T monopoly in 1984. Phone technology and competitive service provision exploded. In 1982, Motorola produced the first portable mobile phone. It weighed about 2 pounds and cost $3995. Within a very few years they were much smaller, much cheaper, and selling like hotcakes.But the point of the post is to question why some are now putting together an event about "Why Your Cell Phone is So Terrible," pointing out that it's a bit silly to complain when you compare it to what we had.
Today there are some 4.6 billion mobile phones in the world, and counting, or about 67 per every 100 people in the world. The newer ones allow you to carry in your hand more computing power than the computers that put Apollo 11 on the moon. You can cruise the internet, find your location with GPS, read books, send texts, pay bills, process credit cards, watch video, record video, stream video to the web, take and send photos -- oh, and make phone calls from just about anywhere. Unimaginable just a few years ago.
It's a really good point -- but I have to admit I can see both sides to this argument. It's the very fact that, even when we do amazing things, we can still see the faults with it and that drives us to keep improving and to keep innovating. It's the very "culture of improvement" that drives growth and innovation. So, while I can agree that it's sometimes a shame how much we feel a sense of entitlement towards making things better when those amazing things didn't even exist just a few years ago, it's hard not to sympathize with the feeling of wanting things to be even better.
And, by the way, I'm not alone in seeing both sides of all this. That Louis CK video at the top? The one where he mocks the guy sitting next to him on an airplane for getting upset that the WiFi in the sky suddenly stopped working? Yeah, he later admitted that it wasn't someone sitting next to him, but himself getting pissed off at the WiFi not working, even though he didn't even know in-flight WiFi existed until he got on the airplane. So yes, everything is amazing, and no one's happy... but maybe that's a good thing.