Why Everything Was Better Before (Part 2) by Allen Miles

A few days ago, I took refreshments with Messrs Salmond, Ware, and Davis, three good friends of mine. Jon casually mentioned that a few hours earlier, he had received his new mobile phone. One of our party, possibly me, asked him which model it was and what features it had. We all sat there and incredulously shook our heads as Jon reeled off the preposterous list of actions his new phone could perform, one of which is if you’re watching a video and look away from the screen, the eye sensor pauses the video for you, then he finished with a knowingly ironic smile and the line “…oh yeah, and it can make calls and send texts too.”

For those of you not from the North of England, these packets are about two inches long.

For those of you not from the North of England, these packets are about two inches long.

I am terrified of modern technology. I instinctively mistrust anything that was invented after 1999. When I got my first mobile, it had a screen the size of half a packet of TABS (remember them?) and looked like it was made from Duplo (remember that?) I mainly used it to text Andrew while we were both drunk in the small hours of a Sunday morning. We texted each other punk slogans and thought we were clever. Over the course of the next five or six years, mobiles got smaller and smaller until you were effectively talking into the afore-mentioned packet of TABS. Then, as manufacturers realised that the screen could be the selling point, they got bigger and bigger again. My own mobile has a surface area roughly the size of a small breadboard. I don’t want it. It has brought nothing but distraction to my life, it seems to have given me carpel tunnel syndrome and I can’t wear my favourite mod-cut brown Farah’s anymore because it doesn’t fit in the pockets. I hate it. I fucking loathe it, but I am well aware that if it was taken away from me for just one day, my loved ones would have to manacle me to my bed while I screamed my tonsils out and Kelly McDonald sang Temptation by New Order in the corner of the room, dressed in a school uniform. Even when the battery goes dead I have to sit down and take a valium.

...and I've never met anyone quite like you before...

…and I’ve never met anyone quite like you before…

The main gripe I have with the modern mobile phone is that if you make a dick of yourself somehow, within seconds everyone knows. This mainly happens on nights out when you’ve had lots to drink. Many moons ago, it was an event when someone took a crappy little wind-and-click disposable camera to a pub or club. You’d keep one eye on your alcohol level because you wouldn’t want the one copy of the photo that was taken to get passed round all your mates over a period of weeks showing you to be dribbling sick out of the corner of your mouth whilst trying to dislodge your shirt flap from your fly. I remember when I was about twenty one I threw a tantrum for days because someone had taken a photo of me in Room one night and I decided that my shirt didn’t go with my jeans. If only that was all we had to worry about now! Now, because Facebook and Twitter are all integrated into practically every mobile you buy, if you do end up laying on a park bench belly-up like a dead goldfish with WANKER written across your forehead in eyebrow pencil, everybody you know will instantly be able to see it and have a good old giggle at your self-inflicted humiliation. My friend Emma, whose sole-purpose on this planet is apparently to laugh at my misery, took a picture of me a wee bit worse for wear in an old town pub a few months ago, with my eight chest hairs on show, mugging camply at the camera. Within seconds of this instantly regrettable photo-shoot, my old school-mate Kate Rylatt, who lives in New Zealand and whom I haven’t seen in person for nineteen years, would have been able to see this depiction of complete embarrassment . The next few hours of my life were absolute hell as I desperately invented potential rumours about sexual depravity with enormous vegetables in order to force Emma to remove the photo from her Facebook wall. Which she eventually did, but not before leaving me hanging in abject torture well into the middle of the next day. Had that have been an actual photo that was taken with a disposable camera back in the day, scurrilous rumours would have abounded between my mates of a ridiculous picture of me posing like a cadaverous cross between Mick Jagger and Disco Stu, but they wouldn’t see it for another three weeks, by which time they wouldn’t care anymore, and I could seize the negative.

Another thing I hate about my new fangled mobile is the e-bay application (I’m not going to say “app,” call me pretentious if you want, I don’t give a fuck) that I have for it. An innocent enough piece of software, you may think, handy if you’ve bid on something and you’re away from your computer when the end of the auction is near; you can check how it’s going and continue to bid. Yes, in theory its brilliant, but as I’ve already alluded to, I spend a great deal of time drunk, and when you’ve had a few, you suddenly become absolutely determined not to be outbid on the highly collectable resin statue of Stiletto from Dangermouse that you saw a few days ago, and in the sober light of day bid a speculative £2.00 on. All of a sudden, you’re in a bidding war thats going down to the wire, and as you finish your ninth pint, you get the special gong sound on your phone, informing you that the 80s cartoon figure that will go straight in your loft is yours for a winning bid of £17.50. Shit. This is why I haven’t downloaded any gambling applications onto it. If I did, I would be bankrupt, divorced and childless before I managed to plug my charger in.

I also have video games on my phone. No, before you ask, not that one, but ones such as Angry Birds, Cut The Rope and absurdly, every Sega Master System game ever made. Back in the very early nineties, my kid brother Andy and I would spend every penny of birthday money we got on Sega games, we asked for them for every Christmas and if we ever came into a few quid for whatever reason a nine year old and seven year old did, we would always put it towards a Sega game. The dearest ones cost about £30, and the budget range varied from £10 to £20. It was a proper occasion when we got a new game, you had to go down a special aisle in Toys R Us with your ticket and everything. We managed to accumulate about twenty games between us over the course of two or three years, and they took up two rows of the bookshelf we had in our shared bedroom down Bricknell Ave. Now, in 2013, I’ve got two hundred and odd of them on my phone, which fits in my pocket. The emulator thing cost 79p, the games were all free off the internet. The dream is over. My childhood is dead and buried and being pimped over a file-sharing network for people to play on their mobiles while they’re sat on the bus/train/toilet. Bollocks.

In 2013, all this that you see here is the size of

In 2013, all this that you see here, along with a big wooden-cased television, has been condensed to the size of a Ryvita.

113 Applications, 902 photographs, 89 text message alerts, 121 ringtones, The Complete Works of George Orwell, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemmingway and Cormac McCarthy, along with a further 188 e-books. I can control this website from it, I can record programmes on my Sky+ with it. I can use it to tune my guitar, or to find out whether a certain type of toaster is in stock at my local Argos. I have dozens of episodes of Peppa Pig on it to entertain my two-year-old daughter, and I can get world news, football scores and directions to anywhere in the country within seconds. Oh yeah, and it can make calls and send texts as well…

Thank you Samsung. You ruined my life.

Do you remember Snake on the old Nokias? I liked that.

I’m off to decide which 3D live wallpaper defines my personality…

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx

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