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Smart phones follow a proud tradition of annoying phone technology

Updated on January 18, 2012

People over twenty-five will remember what life was like before phones were jammed into everyone’s pockets and purses. We went to the movies without a Katy Perry ringtone interrupting it. We could let the phone ring when work called, and pretend we weren’t near the phone. Sometimes we missed fun times because others couldn’t get a hold of us. But more often we had fun because others couldn’t get a hold of us. Then everything changed.

In the beginning the phone was a tool to save time. Instead of stopping by someone’s house you could call them…and that’s it. Then in the eighties answering machines hit the scene. It was suddenly a status symbol to have a machine. Women with big hair and shoulder pads were buying answering machines as a way of screening their calls, especially from obnoxious men in Member’s Only jackets. These men, missing the point entirely, were buying them to record funny (obnoxious) messages. One of the most coveted things you could have was a celebrity voice saying that you weren’t home on your machine.

The first annoying advance in our friend the phone.
The first annoying advance in our friend the phone.

Answering machines got annoying quick, however. They were a pain to set up. Then they would answer when you picked up the phone, often leaving an incriminating recording of your conversation. You had to buy little tapes for them, and there were was a different tape for every machine. If you used a tape too long you would sometimes have a phantom message playing over your current message. This got real disturbing if mom was leaving a message as you were listening to your girlfriend.

Eventually these problems went away when voice mail came around. But then you had to remember to check it. Usually you would wind up deleting a month’s worth of messages at a time. And usually that lead to you deleting a current important message. This was mostly abandoned (except at businesses) when caller ID came out. Now you could ignore what people had to say before they could say it! Of course, you had to make sure not to screen someone’s call when someone you screened a lot was hanging out.

Around the time answering machines were in their hay day pagers started appearing. If you had a pager in the eighties, you either worked the stock market, were a doctor, or you dealt drugs. There was no in between. Then in some point in the nineties, pagers started finding their ways into high school and college kids’ hands. Now it was a tool so they were always connected to their friends…as long as there was a phone nearby. Or they had thirty-five cents to make a call. Or they wanted to call the number.

Hey, come over man.  Up in Smoke is on.
Hey, come over man. Up in Smoke is on.

Of course they didn’t always want to call the number. Usually a friend would be calling from a strange house. Or it would be a burnout who they regretted giving the number to because they called it all the time. These people would eventually put “911” into their numerical message. This usually was reserved for emergencies where the annoyer would say, “Hey, Half Baked is on TV, come over.” That lead to the realization that you paid thirty-five cents to find out that a movie you had on tape was half over on TV at that moment.

Not surprisingly pagers started to die when cell phone became more affordable. The coup de grace occurred when instant messaging on AOL became texting on phones. Now the annoyers could send you a message you couldn’t ignore, even if you didn’t respond.

Today phones technology is just as obnoxious, but packed into a pint sized package. Phones now have auto correct, which sometimes makes you say dirty things to ugly people. They have screens that access the internet, but icons that can’t be touched with your sausage fingers. You butt dial people at the worst times (especially at the bar).

Then again, you can watch the big game on it while you’re sister’s getting married. If you have an i-phone 4S and your lonely you can talk to it…and it talks back. So it’s totally worth it, right?

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    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Great hub! I actually did laugh out loud several times. Yes, technology progression is a funny thing, especially this explosion of phone-related technology. They're doing the same with TVs and VCRs (what's that? oh yeah, I vaguely remember those). Cheers!

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 5 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      Don't forget the old school "Zack Morris phone". Great hub and this is very true. I can still remember my first cell phone which was just in case of emergencies. I always left it in the car. I also remember the time I got my first pager. I thought I was Joe Cool then. Great work. Voted interesting and up. Welcome to hubpages my friend. You will enjoy writing for this great community.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Thanks for this hub. And, welcome to HubPages. I nearly laughed out loud when you said, "Women with big hair and shoulder pads were buying answering machines as a way of screening their calls, especially from obnoxious men in Member’s Only jackets." Thanks very much for your writing.