Cell phone/texting culture - When I was 9, my dad brought home a portable phone from the radio station where he worked. It was a blocky Motorola thing, and it looked like a portable video game to me. When my dad told my 11-year-old brother he could make a call on it, he was apoplectic (a privilege not extended to me, a recurring theme of my childhood). He dialed my great aunt, who lived two doors down. “Hi Boo! It’s me, Colin. I’m calling you on a Cellular One phone!” (We called it a Cellular One phone, for crying out loud!) It was a scene lifted directly from that awful “That ’80s Show.” Shortly thereafter, we put the phone away with all the reverence of Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari. After all, such a thing couldn’t even be breathed on wrong.
And that incident more than any other (even more so than Saved By the Bell reruns) cemented my image of cell phones. They were expensive technological toys for yuppie executives. Nothing I or even my parents would ever need. And I went to high school and even college at a time when the only cell-phone users were overachievers who were flaunting any combination of ambition, status, wealth or smug self-importance.
I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 24 and in grad school, and even then it was a Christmas present from my mom, who saw it as a convenient means for me to make impulse trips to chauffeur my teenage sister on her many, many excursions (again, recurring theme). When she could no longer pay the bill and I went several months without service, I barely missed it. By the time I got my current phone (Mardi Gras 2006...more on that in a moment), everybody in America had one, and texting was in its mestastasizing phase.
The new age of smartphones has accelerated beyond anything I care or will ever care about. In fact, it actively makes me angry. Not because of the technology itself - I rather enjoy iPhone games - but because of what it’s done to society. It was bad enough in 2001 when my friends at school would steer every conversation toward their cell phone plans; but now, it’s even worse. Why? Because it’s getting to be where you have to have this technology to function. And there’s something in my brain that wipes out even the strongest curiosity if it becomes a social imperative. Also, I’ve always been one for an open social environment. Nothing saddens me more than to go to a college campus and everyone is looking down at their devices. I was in college only five years ago, and even then people still talked to each other.
So for now, I carry my almost 5-year-old Nokia cell phone, and people often remark that they had that same phone about five phones ago. My mom and sister both have iPhones, and I can’t keep up with them. In thinking my phone isn’t that old, I somehow feel much older.
Michael Cera - Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist may have been the first movie anyone ever told me I would be too old to get. That came from a friend of mine who is six years younger than me (itself making me feel old). Cera’s career is proof I’m a cultural has-been in two ways: 1) Age: Cera was born in 1988. When I was in college, my friends had siblings that age, and when they’d tag along they mostly absorbed themselves in their NSYNC coloring books; and 2) He’s the torch-bearer of hipster humor, which apparently culminates with shrugs. I’ve actually liked him in movies like Superbad, but in no trailer since then have I heard him say anything witty. And considering that trailers are supposed to show the best part of the film, and that his movies rock the box office, I guess he’s dialing into something that skipped me completely. Or maybe I’m just jealous of who he gets to kiss.
Playing football - Just yesterday, after a terrible flag football game, my 33-year-old teammate (glimpsing my aching, forlorn face) slowly stood up and said, “This is a young man’s game.” I reflexively replied, “I’m not old,” as I limped, rubbed my brush burns and struggled to catch my breath. And with that, I suddenly understood why baby boomers are so annoying.
Every NFL player in Tecmo Super Bowl is retired - Granted, this just happened, and in fact it’s probably a miracle that anyone from that era still played recently. But in an age where Jeremy Shockey (my age) is a veteran who has battled numerous injuries and has been a member of two Super Bowl-winning teams, it’s still strange to think there’s been this much turnover in pro sports.
Hearing my friends groan about turning 25 - Self-explanatory. Also, anyone younger than me referring to themselves as “no spring chicken”; people I welcomed into college as a senior undergrad who now have homes and families; and bald heads. Come to think of it, most of that stuff actually makes me feel younger...