Today, for lunch, I have been visited by three mobile phones. Each phone had a grandchild firmly attached. They could not take their eyes off the screens even for a moment. After a few minutes observation it was clear that the phones were in charge of their willing servants.
Grandpa, that’s me, could not compete with the barrage of exciting messages, entertainment and information coming from the phones. Grandpa’s stories of leaving the country of his birth and coming to the fairly new Land of Israel held no interest for them.
While we thought of ourselves as pioneers, grandchildren are more likely to think of the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, even though it is far away in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
A long time ago, I would visit my grandfather. He had, on his own, escaped the Soviet Union and compulsorily enlistment in the czar’s army. Aged just 14, he made his way to England where he taught himself English and built a new and successful life. If I wanted to speak to him, I had to take an hour’s train ride and go to his house. I had no telephone; he had no telephone. There was a long waiting list, several years, after putting in an order for a phone.
The situation was no better when I made Aliyah and arrived in Rehovot. Several years would pass until we got our phone, shared with our neighbours.
In my grandfather’s day, phones knew their place. They were firmly fixed to the wall. The phone had not yet taken over our lives. They would ring, politely, and if not answered would fall silent. They would not make a note of every call and continuously remind us that we had not listened to the “important” message. In short, they did not run our lives.
It did not take long to understand why mobile phones are often called cell phones. We cannot escape them. We are their prisoners; we are in a cell.
I would continue this blog, but my phone is calling me. I must answer it, there might be an important message …….
“Come here, I want to see you” were, of course, Alexander Graham Bell’s first words spoken on his newly invented telephone.