The battle has subsided. The two difficult, painful years I spent under the rule of my old cell phone – a heinous call-dropper and diabolical voice-scrambler – have passed. What has replaced it is a phone like no other – a meta-phone of sorts, created by NASA engineers to control satellites and text message each other. With its matte silver casing and flip-phone-ed-ness, it even looks the part of something space-age and expensive, though it actually would’ve been free if some jackass columnist living in my room hadn’t thrown out the box and the rebate-providing UPC code thereupon. The phone from which I upgraded was the aptly-named “peanut” phone – a Motorola offering with a clever double entendre of a nickname that describes both its shape and its value. During our two-year affair the peanut’s antenna proved to be as strong as the phone’s reception, which, aside from the overwhelming static, was crystal clear. After the fifth or so time the antenna broke – most likely from a stiff breeze or the like – I made the executive decision not to have it repaired. Deep down, I hoped the phone was in agonizing pain, as though it were walking on a broken leg and suffering gruesomely. Coincidentally, the reception did not improve.Fortunately, the powers that be at Verizon Wireless, when not busy playing with the firstborns they’ve taken from indebted customers, devised the Every Two plan, which describes how many dollars, out of every five, they will take from your total monthly income. It also provides you with a credit toward a new phone every two years, knowing all the while that you, the customer, in a moment of exuberant idiocy, will use the credit to purchase an outlandishly equipped phone that boasts a veritable cornucopia of features for which they can charge. Finally qualifying for the program, I eagerly did just that.That said, I love my new phone. There may have been a time when talking about cell phones in such an amorous manner would be seen as pathetic, but there was also a time when fanny packs were acceptable. Fortunately, both eras are quickly passing. Instead, we’ve entered a blissful epoch when consumers embrace absurd advances in technology, and as a result, cell phone companies are constantly upping the ante. I was fortunate enough to get one that included a camera phone, which miraculously always manages, regardless of what you point it at, to take a picture of some indistinguishable yet presumably breathtaking black-sand beach. I opted for this model in favor of the one boasting a bottle opener and garage door opener, though if rumors of Sprint’s upcoming toaster / cell phone combo are true, I may soon be kicking myself. At the same time, I realize that in this era technology is always changing, and the cell phone is slowly rendering every other electronic object obsolete. Rarely do you find a gadget that remains unspoiled by the cell phone, which quickly had its way with the PDA, voice recorder, mp3 player and portable card game markets. Considering the kindergartner-with-a-crayon quality of most cell phone cameras, it’s clearly only a matter of time before Olympus and Fuji throw in their digital camera towels and switch to umbrella manufacturing, and even Nintendo’s Game Boy may be heading for the hills as consumers discard it in favor of navigating Duke Nukem on their phone’s postage-stamp-sized controller-keypad. I even hear Motorola has a phone in the works that even doubles as a small automobile. Better yet, many of these new-fangled phones can even be used to place calls. Yet, as with every new trend, the traditionalists are up in arms. They complain that the industry is seducing us impressionable youths with seven-dollar Britney Spears ringtones and expensive photo-messaging rates – a bowling video game on one’s phone, they claim, is not as important as, say, food. An example of a typical conversation with one such critic, occurring some night after a chicken dinner during a call home, might look like this -Critic – Get a job.Phone user – I just took 40 camera-phone pictures of my hand and sent them to you.Critic – Get a job. Is that a black-sand beach?Unfortunately, there is no formula for winning these arguments – their points are too strong, too valid and too outdated to be countered. Instead, when being lambasted for the ten-dollar curling game you downloaded, turn a cold shoulder to the nay-sayers and ignore their jeers. This will show them that you are a confident, mature and fiscally responsible individual enjoying the plentiful features of your new phone.If that fails, make fun of their fanny packs.Janowitz can be reached at njanowitz@campustimes.org.



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