I saw a guy walking down the street having an animated chat on his cell phone.
It wasn’t going well.
“Oh yeah?” he snarled into the phone. “You think so?”
Apparently, the other person thought so.
“Well guess what?” he yelled. “It’s over! Done! Have a nice life!”
Then he yanked the phone away from his ear and proceeded to spend 20 seconds fumbling for the button to end the call.
A little anticlimactic.
Technology has given us some wonderful advances, but one thing it’s stolen is our ability to throw a satisfying hissy fit by slamming the phone down on the receiver. Even if you haven’t ditched your landline for a cell, odds are good you’re using a cordless phone.
Pressing “off” in the heat of the moment lacks a certain oomph.
I’m fascinated by books written just 10 years ago when it wasn’t assumed that everyone had cell phones sewn to their palms and internet access 24/7. Characters could be stuck alone in a perilous situation without the ability to call for the police and a takeout order of egg rolls to enjoy while awaiting help.
Back then, a romance novel heroine couldn’t just google-stalk the guy she’s dating to discover he’s secretly a famous athlete with a fondness for wearing women’s underpants.
One of my favorite series of books is Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries – A is for Alibi, B is for…well, whatever the hell B stood for. The books star a private detective named Kinsey Milhone, and the first was published in 1982.
Grafton has kept a slow but steady pace with them, releasing U is for Undertow in 2009 while making a deliberate choice not to age the character or her surroundings beyond those first few books. Kinsey still sends faxes and writes her reports on a typewriter. She uses microfiche instead of google, and would be truly mystified by skyping, sexting, and tweeting.
OK, so a lot of us are mystified by those things.
I’ve heard of authors re-releasing older books and making small tweaks to account for technological advances. An author who spoke at an RWA conference I attended joked, “My heroines have a knack for getting into trouble in areas with spotty cell coverage.”
Do you get hung up on jarring technology details in books you’re reading? What role does technology play in your writing? Please share.
I’ll be guarding my eBay bid on an old rotary phone. The next time I need to hang up on someone, I’ll be ready.