Perhaps part of the problem is our phones are too mobile

It’s gotten so bad, they’re selling fake phones in Mexico.

That’s right, for five bucks or so, entrepreneurial dudes and dudettes will sell you a cellphone that looks and feels exactly like your phone, no matter what kind or colour you have. It doesn’t work, of course, and that’s the point.

But why on earth would you want a phoney phone? To look like a super, important tycoon with one in each hand, one in each ear? That would just be dumb.

Or, in case you lose one, you can make sure you lose the pretend phone? That doesn’t make sense, even to me, and I’m sorry I even suggested it.

No, it’s that robbery has become so prevalent in Mexico that people are carrying fake phones to give over to the reprobates who demand “your phone and your wallet.” Also, you could try throwing the fake phone at their face and running away like a scared rabbit.

What got me when I read the article wasn’t that you’ll probably get robbed when you travel. No, it’s the reminder of how mobile phones have taken over our lives. And the fact that some people would rather give up their wallets than their little rectangular hunk of plastic.

Which causes me to wonder: do they still call them “mobile” phones?

Anyway, it’s not the hunk of physical plastic containing the wires and widgets and voodoo computer chips from outer space that the robbers are really after. It’s your deepest, darkest secrets. Credit card numbers, banking and billing information, addresses of your friends and records of all those adult websites you “accidentally” visited on your Goggle thingy.

Nowadays people keep their whole lives right there on their phones, and for the cyber thieves, a stolen phone is an open Book of You – a mobile autobiography, if you will, and they want your identity.

Well, they want your money, of course, and when they have your precious cellphone in their grubby little hands, they’re a lot closer to getting it.

Which causes me to also wonder: do they still call them “cell” phones?

But I am just gobsmacked at how we got here so fast. I mean, I’m pretty fossilized, but I’m not quite primordial (debatable).

And I actually remember my Grandma and Grandpa’s phone out at the farm. It was made of wood (yes, you younger readers, a phone made from trees) and it was the size of a suitcase on the wall and you had to crank it to make it work.

No numbers on that baby. No screen, no music, no calculator, no Google, and especially no telephone banking on those phones.

But it did have something cellphones don’t. A party line. For youngsters (50 years and under), a party line meant that when one phone rang, everybody’s phone rang.

Every “party” along the line had their own personal ring (long before cellphones). Grandpa’s farm was one short ring and two long, I think.

The bonus was, you could pick up the ear thingy and listen to everybody else’s conversations. You had to be super sleuthy and quiet, of course, so the neighbours couldn’t detect that you were eavesdropping, but everybody on the line got real good at it.

So sometimes, I wish we could go back to simpler times when you didn’t have to worry about your life being stolen on your phone, and you could listen to your neighbours talk about you.

And you wouldn’t dream of taking your phone with you to Mexico.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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