I had a wonderful weekend away at Bear Creek Camp, the Lutheran church camp I’ve been connected to in various ways for my entire life. My family and I went there for a special “Labor Day Family Camp,” an event I last attended in 1987 or so. Wow. That’s a long time.
Anyway, while I was there, I was thinking about things that had changed since the last time I was at Family Camp. and one thing I thought of was this.
When I first started to attend Bear Creek Camp, in 1984, we had telephones. And the phones looked something like this:
Granted, it wasn’t long until they started looking more like this:
Anyway, those were the kinds of phones we had when I was a camper in the 1980s and early 1990s. I returned to Bear Creek Camp in the role of chaplain in the early 2000s. And this was what we thought a phone was then:
These new “mobile” phones were amazing. You could call from anywhere, receive a call anywhere. But just like the telephones pictured above, the purpose of the device was clear and unambiguous: making telephone calls. Okay, so on the flip phones you could possibly play the worst game of Snake, and you could supposedly access the world wide web. I never tried it, though. That screen was like four millimeters wide, and it cost about $20 per minute, or something like that. So they were phones, plain and simple. Phones.
But now, returning to camp in 2020, I did not see any of those landline phones. I did not see any of those flip phones. What I saw were things like this:
I had one of them in my pocket the whole time, and I used it a lot. I used it to check my email, and to post on Facebook. I used it to learn Spanish. I used it to figure out what a few bright lights in the sky were. (Jupiter and Saturn, as it turned out.) I used it as a flashlight. I used it to catch up on the news. I used it to take a few photos, and to listen to a podcast. But you know what I never did with it?
I never made a single phone call.
These things are amazing. They do so much, and they make life easier and more pleasant in so many ways. But I don’t think I want to call them “phones” anymore. I think I’ll just call them what they are: “rectangles.” Whether you have an Apple or Android device, whether it’s top of the line or a starter model, they are all shaped like rectangles. So that’s my new name for them.
“Oh, let me text her about that. I’ll just get my rectangle out.”
“I can’t remember the lyrics to that song. I’ll check it on my rectangle.”
And so forth. One of the greatest technological achievements so far of the 21st century. Rectangles. We all have rectangles. Or, I suppose I actually have an iRectangle.