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I remember getting my first cell phone (that I was actually paying for) it was designed for it’s legitimate purpose as pay phones began to disappear, it was a secondary venue of staying in contact. I was amazed by the clarity of the communication in 2000 with the SprintPCS network, and may my first foray.

It was the SCH-3500. Back then, other than the Motorola StarTAC, phones were “cool-ish” but may not have had a special name like a RAZR, iPhone, or Droid. It allowed for expensive communication (which limited my use), was bulky (I never really used it while driving), an d provided that extension of communication if needed. The phone was always visible, and my friends and I set up our weekends with them, dates, late night calls/rendezvous were set up what have you, but at that time, it was more a tool, than a necessary piece of life/culture at the time. I even had data during a free trial, and sent an e-mail which was one of the most inconvenient and cumbersome undertakings ever.

After a few years, I upgraded to the SCH-9500, a phone that was in a Dr. Dre music video at the time. Coincidently, the 3500 had been giving me problems and was replaced at least two times since purchase. This was provided as the replacement. It added no additional capabilities, just a more “dependable” updated phone. My communication habits grew, and it was a grew conduit for long-distance calls, rather than expensive calls from a land line. I called out of town a lot, what can I say? Plus the ability of the phone to become local when you traveled was great to keep a broke guys bill down.

Not really needing the phone to communicate as much, but wanting an updated look, again, a friend offered their phone. The blue display was a cool and different, but still, it was simply a phone. I didn’t need a hulking blue BlackBerry, a full keyboard or any of those things. I did not even text, I can’t remember if that was going on then. I began to call the BlackBerry (that was the only real Smart Phone at the time) a leash, because it kept you connected at all times, and I had no desire to be “connected.” I had long since deleted accounts in Black Planet (2000) and had no want/need/desire to be on sites like that again. I was fine/grounded/private.

Getting sick of the declining Sprint service, we, the family and friends, had slowly been moving over to Cingular service. AT&T who was bought out by BellSouth, then rebranded as Cingular, then bought out again by at&t was the next and current step. I simply got the best looking free flip phone for setting up the service. Color screen, a plus I guess, I didn’t use any data, texting or the like.

At random times family or friends would text, which led to making the choice to either remove all text because of the cost, or adding a text plan. Phones, so impersonal, I decided against it. All I needed to do is talk. Then I got to the point that I didn’t need to talk all the time, because I found myself more and more on the phone as years progressed, again mainly long-distance. Somewhere over that time, I think unlimited texting was offered within the network, and if I needed to, I would go through the normal (read: tedious) process of typing a number several times to text. Fine then, I literally can’t do it now.

After the phone had been on the market, I finally upgraded to the Motorola RAZR. I was excited about a phone…it was still a phone, just the “cool” phone after the fact. I could text, so I would do that, and randomly go online. I think the first big change was riding up to the Inauguration in 2009. I finally logged back into the facebook account a friend had forcibly created in 2007, and because I had just had eye surgery and could not drive, therefore I used the RAZR as my first foray to document my travels to this historic event. That and the iPod (a device that could be off, but you place the earbuds in, an you can “ignore” the world) were easily instrumental the beginning of my, at times, anti-social phone behavior.

Soon after, a freak wind gust sent my RAZR flying from my hand, as I negotiated my mother arriving back in Atlanta, an umbrella, and navigated walking through the rain. My phone hit the ground and split open inside a puddle. “The Perfect Storm,” for two days I was without a phone, and because they consultant could determine it got wet, I was screwed. I couldn’t drop money to get a new phone. I mean, it’s just a phone. Unfortunately, I had to figure something out. I gave my mother my last phone, and she washed it with her clothing, so that wasn’t an option. I was able to get my hands on my first BlackBerry. Being used to and loving flip phones it was a change, but having a full “QWERTY” keyboard, meant my texting went up. I couldn’t go online, because there was some problem, but I had no complaints. I literally thought, I can be more productive with work, by adding my e-mail, and being able to text personally and for business.

Then I moved to my next BlackBerry the Curve. It added a decent camera with flash, better texting and internet functionality. I could post to facebook, tweet, and later update my blog. Furthermore, with those items, I didn’t have to call, answer calls, or talk to anyone…YEAH!!! By that time, I had grown used to the shape and the keyboard, I was good…and still not quote the public sociopath, on my phone.

During that time the iPhone was subsequently released. Now, being an Apple product, I would not get the first version, and it was cost prohibitive. Nightmares about screwed up bills abounded, and I’ll be honest the concept of an iPod that’s a phone was just as ridiculous as the idea of a Mac. I was later proven wrong about the phone. I also was not going to be swept up in the whole hubbub surrounding waiting in long lines for an overpriced phone with all the “fan”atics. Not me pal.

It took the 3GS to get me to finally make that move, and another month to stop missing my BlackBerry keyboard, but DAMN, it was/is the most addicting thing ever. I could easily work, play, do whatever with this device. I was happy with the move, but then I started to notice that it is a kind of consuming device. At a romantic dinner, iPhone, with the family, iPhone, at the movies…Naw, NO iPhone (and I wanna kick people in the head with their phones on), touchdown at airport, iPhone…every move seems documented with the iPhone. And then when one (me) decides not to use their iPhone, they get annoyed by others consumed by their devices and/or iPhones.

And the guy that NEVER tries to get things first, though easily online without the craziness and hoopla, ordered and got his iPhone 4S…the day they were delivered, the entire office was unproductive, constantly checking our iPhone 3GS’ e-mail and UPS tracking to figure out whether they had been delivered.

Regrettably, it is sad to see how I’ve lived through the time when rare to see someone with a phone, and it was a sign of status. When we spent long nights on landlines, to set up dates with girls that weren’t interrupted by texting and outside forces, or checkin’s etc. Yeah, we’ve become very douchey and keep doing it. Thanks Apple.
The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.