Bons mots

Slips of my tongue

Rage against the machine

I read this interesting post in a blog on last week:

People over 30 hate cell phones

By Mike Egan

A research firm has found that people over 30 use just 12 percent of the features on their cell phones and feel frustrated and overwhelmed by cell phone complexity. And it’s not just exotic features adults struggle with, but even basics like checking voice mail, using address books and dialing.

The firm, Half Moon Bay Calif.-based Bowen Research, found that people under the age of 30 use about half of their phones’ features. 

More than one third of the people over 30 surveyed by Bowen Research expressed “deep frustration” about their cell phones.

Here are a few quotes from the study published in a Bowen press release:

“I never quite know what I’m doing after a year and a half.”
“If it’s too complicated, it just really isn’t worth it.”
“Not intuitive at all.”
“To this day, I don’t know how to check voicemail.”

Multiple respondents said many cell phone features are “impossible to learn” and that cell phones are “out of your control.”

Where did they find these luddites survey participants? Living under rocks?

As someone who is – ahem – over 30, I want to dispel any notion that the majority of us are technologically retarded (or “e-tarded”.) I am pretty savvy when it comes to technology. I can figure things out within minutes, even without an instruction manual. While I love the scratchy sounds of a needle hitting vinyl, I just love my iPod. My Laserdisc player and VCR are collecting dust while I fawn over my PVR. I’m definitely not “old school” when it comes to technology.

But I do hate cell phones, and not for the reasons noted in the article.

I grew up in a time before cell phones, when there were moments you were actually unreachable. You didn’t know the minutiae of stranger’s lives when you rode the bus. When the company you were with wouldn’t ignore you to read their latest text message.


Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy and take advantage of the conveniences technology has given me.  It has come into my life gradually, however, and I have been able to choose which tools fit my life. Future generations will come into this world completely connected to technology. They will know no other way of life. They will communicate more through technology and interpersonal relationships will become…well, less personal.

Having a cell phone is something I chose to buy; it wasn’t forced on me. The cost is minimal and it provides me with some benefits and efficiencies. But it does not rule my life. I have friends whose lives would be turned upside down if they lost their cell phones. Me? I still keep an address book. I choose face-to-face conversations over those conducted by text messaging. I use my cell phone to facilitate get-togethers, not replace them.

I hate cell phones because they encroach on a way of life where we interact with each other in person. Humans evolve over time to adapt to their environments, but were we failing as a species before the advent of cell phones? I don’t think so.

Or maybe I’ve never been much of a phone person to begin with.


September 5, 2008 - Posted by | Why the world is going to hell in a handbasket | , , ,


  1. Well said Great information, keep up the great work!

    Comment by Eric Lee | September 5, 2008 | Reply

  2. You still have a laserdisc player? That’s awesome.

    Agreed that cell phones should be used to facilitate face to face rather than replace it.

    On a related note…I told my coworker (Duane) that I needed a new phone and he suggested I get a Jitterbug –

    Comment by Parker | September 5, 2008 | Reply

  3. It’s a dinosaur – a Sony. It’s not hooked up, though.

    Comment by bonsmots | September 8, 2008 | Reply

  4. I completely agree with you. Having a cell phone also leaves little room for “me time” these days, with the expectation that cell phone users can be reached anywhere and any time. I like the idea of being unreachable (as you call it), but I feel that if my cell phone is ever switched off when someone calls, it goes against modern cell phone etiquette.

    Comment by Michelle | September 8, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thanks, Michelle. Cell phone etiquette goes both ways, though; you switch off your phone during certain events and situations so as not to disturb those around you. You can’t be expected to have your cell phone on all the time, can you?

    Besides, some rules are made to be broken. ; )

    Comment by bonsmots | September 8, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’ve often said “I’m just not that important” as the reason I gave up using a cell phone about three years ago.

    I just couldn’t see how anyone would be interested in hearing me transmit: “I, honey, I’m at the Victoria Park Station; almost home!” or “Hi, traffic’s bad; be home later.” That’s the kind of stuff I overhear all the time from people tethered to their phones. Drives me nuts.

    However, my husband and son (both cell phone users) are getting pretty fed up with me. They like to know where I am. They like me keeping in touch. (I feel quite reckless when I don’t report on my whereabouts; so, perhaps not owning a cell phone is more about me wanting to feel free and independent.)

    Go figure.

    Comment by Christine Smith | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  7. Hey Bon,

    Excellent take on the issue…I think most would agree that having a cell is great (and all the Crackberry users would concur) but sometimes you don’t or rather shouldn’t be on the phone at all…take all the drivers in this morning that cut me off because they were tied up too much to use their signal lights).

    Here’s when you know it’s getting out of hand when you see a young teenager trying to navigate and almost fall off his bicycle on St. Clair Avenue all while talking on his cellphone…I don’t think I was allowed to even talk on a land line when I was that age. Cheers,


    Comment by Andy Donovan | September 25, 2008 | Reply

  8. The thing about technology is that once you have it, you wonder how you could have done without it. But it is possible.

    I know a few luddites who don’t have cell phones or Facebook accounts and I envy them. Is there a detox program for Facebook or FriendFeed?

    Comment by bonsmots | September 26, 2008 | Reply

  9. Couldn’t have said it better! I’m so behind the times, I’m just reading your post now! 😉

    Ok, well, I’m about to get on my cell phone while falling off a bike into traffic fraught with completely unaware drivers! Love that, Andy! You know, I saw a young female driver the other day on her cell phone about to make a left turn with her right signal on…Grrrr that makes me mad!

    Keep up the posts, Bon! I love your writing!

    Comment by Dar | October 3, 2008 | Reply

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