Generation Y & The Demon Phone

Warning: gross generational generalizations. Please post your exceptions and disagreements in the comments section.

Demon Phone

The Baby Boomers and Generation X both loved the telephone. As teens they spent hours chatting away but their children do not. The relationship between young people and the phone has fundamentally shifted. For generation x the phone was a source of freedom connecting them with their friends and the world around them. Then the internet happened. And so did the cell phone. Now, phones are from hades.

Limited Calling
While Boomers and Xers had unlimited calling, Yers pay by the minute. Why don’t they just use the land line? They don’t know the numbers. I would guess the average Gen X teenager had over a dozen numbers memorized. Maybe even dozens. Gen Y kids maybe have one or two. All their numbers are in their cell phone.

Generation Y is hopelessly dependent on cell phones that annoy, interrupt and haunt them everywhere they go. They don’t know even know the time without consulting their phone. This love hate relationship has caused them to embrace online phone alternatives.

Cellphones charge by the minute so Yers keep their phone conversations short and move longer discussions to cheaper mediums such as SMS, IM, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and email. These mediums don’t require constant attention and fit well for a ADD communication style. The problem is these mediums are shallow and not well suited for deep relationships.

A New Way of Learning
Not only are cell phones changing the way we communicate with each other they are also changing the way we learn. The old goal of education was to teach facts. Now learning facts is of little help when those facts can be googled from a cellphone. Now thinking and using facts are far more important skills in the work world.

Just like paper destroyed people’s long term memories (there was a time when it was not uncommon to memorize three hundred page poems or whole books of the Bible word for word) cell phones are destroying short term memories. It is getting to the point we never need to remember anything except our cell phone.

The Answer
I don’t know what the answer is. To keep up in our fast paced world of today you need a cellphone. To keep up tomorrow you need an Internet ready SmartPhone. I have an iPhone I don’t know how I could keep up without it.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

12 thoughts on “Generation Y & The Demon Phone

  1. When I was a child, after walking uphill both ways in the snow to school in 100 degree weather, I connected with my friends via the phone. The land lines back in those days would take a full minute to complete a call, especially when there were lots of 9s or 0s in the phone number. I had a friend that even broke up with his girlfriend because her phone number took too long to dial: it was something like GR7-0090. We also used letters as well as numbers further confusing us. Those rotary phones of the 60s and 70s, yeah.

    Land lines rule.

    Today when I am talking from/to a digital/cell/mobile phone, I am constantly saying, "did you hear that?" Sometimes I find myself repeating everything I say twice, just so that the other party can piece together bits and pieces of each sentence, without so much guessing what the dropped words were. No wonder Generation Y hates mobile phones. And when they cost per minute! Yuk!

    They have trained me in their required, new form of telephone communication, too. When talking to someone, we constantly are grunting or saying, "yeah", etc. If the person on the other line is not doing this, then we automatically assume that the call was lost, dropped, broke-up, kaput. When the new call is re-established then we spend considerable time trying to determine where the call was dropped.

    Whatever happened to merely talking face to face? This is a much better form of communication.

  2. dude… I wonder Y… ahahah… yeah… sorry… I just had to pull that one.

    I think that it’s a pretty accurate description. I just love that picture.

    Funny thing is that I know tons of email and website addresses by heart. But a very few phone numbers. :-\

    > Brian

  3. “Funny thing is that I know tons of email and website addresses by heart. But a very few phone numbers. :-\”

    Me too! I don’t use bookmarks hardly at all but I don’t even know Grace’s number because I never dial it. The world is changing.

  4. I have lots of phone numbers memorized, some even when I was a child. I can still remember a few phone numbers that have since been recycled.
    My grandfather’s (Big Jimmy died in 1987): GR8-2759
    My number back in 1959-1965: GR7-6349, or something like that
    My mom’s number (1965-present): GL3-5595
    Our Houston number (1980-1985): 713-957-0396

  5. The most amusing number was my grandmother’s (actually my grandparents: Bon and Aubrey): GR7-6239. Bon died in 1985, Aubrey in 1994. The history of this number is amazing. Just after they first got their phone number in about 1925, a 3rd prefix was added, it went from #39 to #239. One would ring “Sally” or “Mable” and ask to be connected to #39. When my mom was at Austin High School, they added 2 more numbers making it 76-239, and when she went to college, the Greenwood or GR, exchange was added making it GR7-6239 or today it would be 512-477-6239.

    Except for “teenage chat” in the 1940s, the phone was used almost entirely to make arrangements to meet in person. My dad, who lived 3 houses up the street would call my mom when they were in high school together, and read the comics on the phone from the newspaper. I never ever heard my grandfather say “bye” or “good-bye” at the end of a conversation. After he got the required information making the necessary meeting time and location, then bang. Dial tone. The phone was primarily used then to make plans for a time when real, genuine communication would occur: face to face.

    There is a lesson that you young people can glean from how your fore-fathers used electronic devices to communicate, and more importantly, how not to communicate.

  6. I have been thinking about this for a long time, so it is nice to see that I am not the only one who has difficulties with the phone conversations. ;-)) You know, another point to this is that when people used their landlines they were often in thier homes or bedrooms. There was much more privacy that we don't have when we are talking on our cell phones in public places. I know on serveral occassions I have wanted to say something important or "deep" but there was no privacy. Also like DadUm said, we have to talk so loud to make sure we are being heard the people around us are going to hear our whole conversation. That does not make me feel easier about sharing secrets on the phone.

    However, I am making more of an effort with my phone skills since talking to you about this, Thomas. I have, now, memorized your house phone number and your cell phone number (applause recommended at this point). I don't memorize very well, most information goes in and then out because I can always pull up the answers on the internet or, when I am with you, on your iphone. 🙂 I think that I am definately going to work on that. I don't want my brain to get lazy. 🙂

    Hope you all are having a nice day!

  7. I know what you mean about difficulty with privacy while on a cell phone. My cell phone's ear piece speaker died, so all calls that I make have to be done on speaker-phone. So anyone listening hears whatever transpires. What's even worse is that people who call me have no inkling that other people hear us talking, then it gets really awkward when I try to explain why they should stop talking.

    I'm not sure if that really has anything to do with what yall were saying, but whatever.

  8. Wow. That's really amusing. This making me laugh so please excuse me for a minute.

    BRAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… :deep breath: HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE Oh Oh My goodness… lolololololololololololololololol. I'm ok… I'm ok.

    Now that I stopped laughing, I have to tell you that my Dad still gives out his old number from when he worked at Fox service Co. The guy at the carterage refill place asks for our phone. (no; he doesn't need it, but he asks for it anyway) Oh… whatever that Fox number is. I could never remeber that. The other day I was working with him and he said "I think I could get this part at the Mozda dealership" (Dad's a mechanic). He dials their number from memory!

    Yeah, and then he has a bookmarks list that if printed out would probably be two pages long. I have about two bookmarks on my firefox, and then I just have the 9 Speed Dials on Opera. Otherwise, I navigate the web from memory. It's really strange.

    Once again laughing,

    > Brian

    PS: Yeah, it's still funny: BRRRRAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HEHEHEHEHEHEHE ROFOLOLOLOLOLOL…. oh, now I'm leaving.

  9. Wow. That’s really amusing. This making me laugh so please excuse me for a minute.

    BRAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… :deep breath: HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE Oh Oh My goodness… lolololololololololololololololol. I’m ok… I’m ok.

    Now that I stopped laughing, I have to tell you that my Dad still gives out his old number from when he worked at Fox service Co. The guy at the cartage refill place asks for our phone. (no; he doesn’t need it, but he asks for it anyway) Oh… whatever that Fox number is. I could never remember that. The other day I was working with him and he said “I think I could get this part at the Mazda dealership” (Dad’s a mechanic). He dials their number from memory!

    Yeah, and then he has a bookmarks list that if printed out would probably be two pages long. I have about two bookmarks on my firefox, and then I just have the 9 Speed Dials on Opera. Otherwise, I navigate the web from memory. It’s really strange.

    Once again laughing,
    > Brian

    PS: Yeah, it’s still funny: BRRRRAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HEHEHEHEHEHEHE ROFOLOLOLOLOLOL…. oh, now I’m leaving.

  10. Sometimes when I an need to fast. I will fast my cell phone. It is a great trial. More so for people who are looking for me and need to talk to me. But I tell myself that having a cell phone is a luxury. But why cant we call God on our cell phone, since we are so dependent on it

  11. Now days when you buy or return items at some stores, they ask me for a phone number. Of course I will not give out my Cell number. When I have told some places, "No phone" they tell me they need a number to finish the transaction. So I tell them, "Ok, I will just make one up" They don't care, and continue with the fake number. Usually and old number.

    Back in the 60's up in Oregon, we used to have party lines. Each line of about 3-4 households had a special ring. Ours was, 2 longs and 1 short. So you can imagine what us kids would do when the ring wasn't our ring, (2 short rings, or 1 long and 1 short ect..) yep, listen in on other callers. Usually it was just boring stuff and we would hang up as quietly as possible, hoping they wouldn't hear the click.

    One thing about the cell phone, can you hear me bits and pieces, is i can just hang up on someone if I want to and they won't think a thing of it, cause the connections are always going out for some reason or another. MY FRIENDS DO UNDERSTAND this, Ha!

  12. I’m the “Anonymous” on the comment above, didn’t realize I had to put in a name until I clicked reply. Good blog Thomas. Hope to see more of you guys this year.

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