Opinion Reader Contributed

Seniors vs. Cellphones: Perspective of a Former West Hartford Resident

Ann Marie Stenhouse. Photo by: Venice Photo Booth, www.venicephotobooth.com (courtesy photo)

‘Seniors vs. Cellphones’ was submitted by former West Hartford resident Ann Marie (McEnany) Stenhouse, now a resident of Englewood, FL.

Submitted by Ann Marie Stenhouse

When did it all begin – Perhaps in the 30s, when telephone operators would sit on high stools in front of a switchboard with headphones glued to their heads, talking with folks all over the world.

This has evolved to a non-thinking mass of people who now have the most advanced technology to pretty much contact everyone including those on the moon.

People over the ill-fated age of 80 remember the days when it was a privilege to own a phone. The less privileged had to share that other service, in what was referred to as a “party line.”

As more geniuses came along, the mighty phone loss its weight and standard black color, to a lighter weight “princess” phone that fell off the table during many phone conversations. Soon after, the wall phone came along, thus letting folks talk hands-free by balancing the headset on their shoulders.

Speed dial – Oh boy! we no longer had to dial those l-o-n-g numbers. Programmed numbers were reduced to one or two digits that could whirl us to the person of choice in seconds. 

The answering machine came on board quickly, and people left messages asking us to “Please call  back when you get this message.”

The CELL PHONE WAS BORN. A new world was opened up. We now had the gift of being able to call for help in car accidents, dog bites, heart attacks, and any other type of emergency, thus giving us the comfort of knowing this piece of plastic would save us from doom.

What could go wrong you ask? 

We now have headsets that squeal with such a pitch, that your ears don’t stop ringing for a half hour after you hang up. Our grown children call us while in a busy restaurant, or traffic snarls, food drive-through’s, baggage claim lines and anywhere that waiting gives them a quick thought to call Mom and Dad. 

We have our grandchildren calling from baseball, football, and soccer games in direct contact with the ticket holders, turning us into ease droppers on the entire spectators joyously cheering for their favorite teams. These same dear children can also share with us their music at any decibel to penetrate our eardrums while we try to hear what is being said … if anything.

But why stop at just phone conversations. Let’s have games and applications that enable us to hot wire into our computers leading to the futuristic face-to-face communications once only dreamed about. If that’s not enough, we can take instant pictures to share with those interested in our daily lives (or not).

The phones have become attached to our bodies. Staying longer than a best friend, they come with us to grocery stores, churches, movies, hospital beds, and our bathrooms. Grandparents don’t stand a chance to have an uninterrupted conversation – a buzz signals “call waiting” or someone else wants to grab time away from us.

All we want is to have our loved ones give us a chance to hear about our day and we’ll listen to yours. Please go to an easy chair, close the door behind you, turn off the TV, and in the quiet of the room, share your hopes and dreams with ones who really care.

Ann Marie Stenhouse lived in West Harford for 60 years. She retired from CIGNA in 1998, and moved to the west coast of Florida.

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