On the Telling Bone.

20 02 2010

I was reading about a brand new social networking service that could revolutionise the way people talk, it was written by a fellow called “Borowitz” and I think it’s meant to be funny. The article is here if you’d like to read it.

I would have liked to have posted a comment, but as you saw, there was no way to do so, so I blogged about it, (that’s something you can do in the 21st century).

Yes Borrowitz, The phone, I remember the phone.

I remember being cut off from the world because it was so much harder finding people, who were like me, people I’d enjoy talking to. and I felt this way since I was a very young child.

The phone was always a very self-important thing, it had it’s own table, and if the phone rang, we had to make a run for it… as it might be an incredibly important message. Mum would race inside from putting the washing out, kids flying to the left and right if they were in the way. She’d be yelling “Get the Phone! Get the Phone!” The poor dog would be tripped over and would let out a frightened yelp, the cat’s tail would be stood on, a delicate vase would wobble on it’s edge and breathless and panting away, Mum would just barely reach the sacred electric telephone mere seconds before the other party hung up.

If it was a phonecall from another state, Mum would talk faster and faster, as she saw in her mind the dollars and cents floating away with each panic stricken moment, if she’d spoken much faster then she might have sounded like a chipmunk on crack as she tried compressing every thought and word down to a few seconds. then she’d get to the end “OKBYE*click*” and sit there looking utterly knackered, sweat dripping from her as though she’d just ran for Australia in the Olympics…. and then furrow her brow and utter an expletive as she’d remembered something she had to say, but it was all too late.

Of course it was worse when it was Mum who was the one dialing “STD” (that’s “Subscriber Trunk Dialling” thankyou, not a nasty rash) This was seen more often when we were at our Holiday House (which ironically seemed to generate more work for my family than our normal home). Sometimes it was Dad who had to ring his family up in Sydney, and Dad spoke and thought a bit slower than Mum, I’m not saying he was an old bushie, but he was more pre-occupied with having a good natter than thinking too much about the cost. Mum would be in the bedroom frowning, taking furtive glances at the clock and as time moved on, She’d get up and gesticulate angrilly in front of Dad, like a willy wagtail picking on a magpie.

We never, as far as I can remember, had a call from overseas until my friend moved to Germany for a couple of years in the 90s. He was a guy who liked a good long chat. He’d buy a ten Deutsche Mark phonecard, and chat till it ran out of credit… usually in about an hour. Whenever we got a call from there, Mum would flip out. indeed it was special, it was almost frightening. The lag was awful some nights and conversation was often tangled if we tried speaking too fast, restraint was always the best bet here. I confess that the idea of an overseas phonecall freaked me out too, it was something that only other people did. Our family were not used to it, all our friends and family were Australians, living here, so there was simply no need.

I was growing up and beginning to make friends who I’d want to phone, So I had to ask Mum if it was ok to phone them, generally it was ok. I’d see my friends during school hours so there wasn’t much to talk about in the evenings, I might have made a phonecall on a saturday, before visiting a friend, just to see if they were at home first, avoiding a long walk home if they were not. In those days I was happy enough to be home, with my family and the TV… I couldn’t live like that now, I’m too dependent on conversation.

I think that the phone’s great if a doctor, a cop or the vet is needed urgently, and great for keeping in touch with friends… but you couldn’t make friends on the phone, people didn’t hear your conversation from other states or countries and think to themselves “Hrrmmm, I like this guy, I like his attitude and the way he thinks, I think I should hook up with this person” there was really no chance of meeting anyone at all. “In space, no one can hear you scream”.

The days when the phone ruled were lonely, and costly.

If a friend moved interstate, there’d be promises of phonecalls and of writing letters, which were soon forgotten, as boys don’t tend to sit and write their friends a letter and post it… I’d have to ask Mum for 20c for a stamp too, I didn’t get pocket money till I reached my teens and even then it was very little.

These days, a friend could move to Canada, and it wouldn’t make that much difference, unless they were local, which is a rare thing… and that’s a thing people who are concerned about others being online tend to forget… we can’t always meet in “real life”, as much as we’d like to, we wish we could, if there were teleport beams, that would be lovely… “Lunch in Paris with me today mate?” “Yeah, no worries, wouldn’t miss it” Melbourne to Paris in ten seconds, beaut! As much as I’d love to go to a cafe with my friends from the States, or Germany or Finland, I cannot… but at the very least I have had the good fortune to meet these people through the internet.

If people are too far away, there is still the very real contact of christmas cards and gifts, lovely things which come via post from real people very far away who really care about me, and I send them things too when I can.

All of my friends use e-mail, it’s a lot cheaper than phoning them, and they’ll see it in their own time… there are no engaged tones or unanswered calls with e-mail.

I recently bought an iPhone, mostly so I can do a few quick e-mails, tweets or skype when the big computer (which takes almost ten minutes to boot) is switched off.

I’m not one for phone conversation as stated earlier, but I hope to be going on holidays soon, so a mobile may come in handy if there is an emergency at home.

I fully intend to use the iPhone mainly with wi-fi, although I got a pre-paid sim card, which is going to end up very underused and when it runs out at the end of the month, it may never be recharged again. I have very little, almost no income, so that extra $30 a month isn’t going to happen.

SMS must be the biggest joke ever, it bothers me that people pay for each message they send, why? They could be using twitter for Gods sake.

Oh, I’m sorry, yes, twitter is only for weirdos who must tweet every boring moment of their life, it’s nowhere as cool as SMS, which is the exact same thing, except that you pay for every single message you send… Human beings are mental!

Ok, Fair enough, I do pay for my internet, and in Australia, we pay lots for very little, but twitter still works out a lot cheaper overall, I’m certainly not paying for each message, and most are going overseas.

Last night I chatted with a friend on the iPhone, using Skype, again, the cost of this is nominal.

My friend and I prefer to use voice because basically he’s a big fat bastard who can’t reach his keyboard, aren’t you mate?

Skype worked wonderfully, until the battery ran out near the end of the conversation, ahh well.

We talked about old fogies moaning about how kids apparently don’t talk to each other anymore and what utter nonsense it was… kids are on their computers and mobiles all evening chatting away. when we were kids, we were sitting in front of the television in the evenings and would mostly only see our friends when we were physically at school.

Speaking on the old “Dog and Bone” is limited and costly, The last bill, I had was over $80, despite the fact I’d made a total of eight phonecalls, all local, a few to mobiles, and none lasting more than two minutes. If it wasn’t for the fact that I can reach emergency services quicker on the thing, and that I need to be connected to the line for ADSL, I’d be ripping it out of the wall and hurling it from the first window I can find.

I love the internet, If some people can’t be in tune with that, that’s fine… Use your “Telling Bone” as the old wizard used to call it, Talk to just one person each time you use it. Chat on your Mobile and Pay lots for your calls and SMS messages… Remember, it’s only cool if it’s expensive.

The rest of us are getting on with the new century.

By the way, Mr. Borowitzs article, was on the internet.


* Why yes, I’d love a payed job as a writer, contact me if you’re interested,



4 responses

20 02 2010

More, please!

21 02 2010
Dilbert Z

I can’t remember if it was the 1970’s or early 1980’s but I needed some information on a microcomputer chip. I did the daring thing of phoning up Motorola in Austin Texas, or perhaps Arizona. It was a big deal and I remember my voice quavering at the thought of how much it was costing to phone the USA. It was probably only $10 but at the time that was a lot of money to me. I had to make it clear to the lady on the switchboard that I was calling from AUSTRALIA! so she did not put me on hold. Anyway, they posted me the data book, much to my surprise. The idea of downloading a PDF data sheet over the internet was just an unimaginable fantasy.

21 02 2010
Dilbert Z

Unimaginable fantasy is of course a contradiction. If it is unimaginable, you can’t fantasize about it. When I were a lad …. we exchanged software on floppy disk. We’d get it posted from over seas …. sheer luxury …. we didn’t have computers …. we used slide rule….. and on and on it goes.

21 02 2010
Wolfie Rankin

You go back with computers further than I, I’d played with a friends machine, an Amstrad cpc 464 until I got my own in the mid 80s, I hadn’t touched a floppy disc till then. I did import demo programs (made by demo groups) from the UK via 17-bit software “one bit better than the rest”. and it took ages. Once I got online, using an Amiga A1200, I was shocked to find that am amstrad game that took weeks to arrive… I’d ordered a copy, took less than ten seconds to download as a ROM.

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