What Does a Smart Phone and A CB Radio Have In Common?

June 29, 2011

When I read Adam Erwin’s article, How Could a Smart Phone Make Us So Dumb?, I was reminded of how age and experience color our outlook.

Erwin obviously has a bone to pick with cell phones.  I may not agree with all of his diatribe, but it was worth reading just for his  historical perspective about communications technology.  Referring to the smart phone  as the “CB radio of the new millennium” may sound far fetched, but not really.

The CB radio (Citizens Band) service was established in 1945.  Keep in mind, many country folks had no telephone service until the mid-1950s or even later. The CB radio was a bit of a miracle for its time. It only required the hardware. No software was necessary. AT&T wasn’t involved. There was no data plan.

The Big Thing, and there is always a Big Thing, that brought CB radio to the mainstream was the Oil Crisis of 1973.

Fuel shortages and the implementation of the 55 mile per hour speed limit changed everything.  Truckers, who had quietly been using CB radios for a number of years, quickly jumped into action by using them to locate the next fuel stop and warn each other about speed traps. They even formed a “convoy” to protest the governmental changes that directly affected their business.  Soon,  everyone with a truck, a car or even a tractor wanted their own CB radio.

In 1976, fresh out of college, I fell into the job of  editor for a national magazine called “The CB Times Journal.” I interviewed and photographed many of these people and told their stories.  In hindsight, because I certainly didn’t recognize it then, there was a common thread among them all. They wanted to be connected and part of something bigger.  CB radios became their community and was just as important to them as that Facebook App on the smart phone is to many of us today.

So, back to Erwin’s article.

He voices his disgust with the “smart” phones, but grudgingly admits we can’t live without them. As an employer, he grapples with youth and their obsessive use of the phone.  Funny how that that reminded me of my best friend’s father, who hated the telephone.  Mr. Turner was born before the turn of the 20th century, and I thought he was ancient at 60.  He used the telephone only when absolutely necessary. He answered the house phone only when there was no one else around to it. You had to be quick to talk to Mr. Turner.

The conversation went like this:

Me:  “Hello, Mr. Turner, is Deborah there?” (it didn’t help that my best friend had the same name as I did).

Mr. Turner: “No.”  Click. Gone.  No goodbye, no “how’s your mama and them?”  Click. Gone.

Now that I think about it, maybe we all need to use our smart phones a bit more like Mr. Turner used the house phone.







One Response to What Does a Smart Phone and A CB Radio Have In Common?

  1. moslopo on December 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Great post i remember the popularity of the cb radio and how popular they were.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook – Here We Are!