When it comes to the best movies ever made, Steven Spielberg’s film about the cute, little alien that gets stranded on earth has to top most lists. Not only was it a fantastic story with phenomenal visual effects (for its time), but it was the launching pad for Reeses Pieces candy, Drew Barrymore’s career, and the ever-popular phrase “E.T. phone home.”
While that line is known to just about everyone over the age of 30, the way we use cell phones these days, if they ever do a remake of that classic, the writers best change it to “E.T. text home!”
Despite being called cell phones, it seems most people are using these devices for texting rather than actually making a call.
Just the other day, there was a get-together at a sports bar to watch a San Francisco Giants playoff baseball game. Upon arriving at the table, not one friend looked up. All three of them were too busy texting.
Looking at them all slamming away with their fingers, the first thought was perhaps they needed a sarcastic text message stating: “Hey guys! Great to see you again!”
An order for a cold beverage was placed with the nice waitress before the first person finally put his phone down. (Course it was placed right in front of himself, too, so he could pounce on the next text to come his way.) Not until then, did the first eye-to-eye, verbal greeting, the type our parents rigorously instilled in us, take place.
While it was a fun night catching up with old friends and cheering the local team to victory, it was continuously interrupted as each of them, over and over again, snatched up the phone and pounded away on the keyboard.
Fifteen or so years ago, we had to use pay phones to call and check in with family and friends. Then technology allowed us to do so from a hand-held device. Now, it seems calling has become a thing of the past as it has become too simple and easy to type and send a short printed message.
Throw in all the social media outlets people are obsessed with utilizing as the main form of communication, and it’s become somewhat of a rarity to see someone actually hold a phone up to his or her ear these days.
It’s a surprise anyone even wants to meet face-to-face anymore. With the love of texting and connecting via the many interactive Internet tools and websites, it’s a surprise anyone even leaves the house.
On the positive side, the technology advancements are making people type more and thus are probably helping them hone their writing skills. (Although for brevity reasons, especially on interactive communication platforms like Twitter, users are misspelling words on purpose and using symbols to replace proper language and grammar.) It also is a lot more quiet in public places as less people are shouting into their phones.
For better or worse, times are changing. More and more people are choosing to type a quick correspondence rather than dial up a number and actually spend time talking. Often times, a voice message will be left on someone’s phone, only to be returned via text later in the day.
Maybe this passion for texting – or beter yet a lack of passion to talk – is also why it seems nobody listens to voice messages anymore. After taking the time to lay out clearly the reason for the call on someone’s voice message, a return call immediately comes back with: “Hey! I just missed your call. What’s up?”
Many times the call comes back as the message is still being left. Case in point – this morning. As a voice mail was being left with a friend, the phone buzzed indicating a call was coming in. It went immediately to voice mail. Turns out it was the same friend who didn’t answer his phone a minute earlier.
“Oh, hey! I just missed a call from you,” he stated. “What do you need? Call me back.”
Seriously? Despite knowing the reason for the call is stated on his voice message, he wants another call back? Ironically, he also text about 10 minutes later asking the same question.
While mobile phone sales continue to skyrocket, it seems the phone aspect is the last amenity people are using on the devices. Texting, email, games, music, Internet are way more popular. Enough so, that it might be time for manufacturers – and society – to think about calling these devices by a different name. (They were at one time called PDA’s, right?)
Film makers, too, should take note as “phoning home” may soon be a foreign phrase to most youths. Times will always continue to change, but at this stage in life, directors, like Spielberg, might just want their future extraterrestrials to text home instead.
After all, despite the popular saying, it’s pretty much what E.T. did with his Speak and Spell anyway, isn’t it?