Small, usually black, and rectangular in shape; the beeper was an extension of the fashionable communicator in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The color of your case and the sticker you wrapped around your beeper was as important as your tattoo, haircut, or the way you wore Calvins. But that was then and this is now.
In the past 20 years, communication has evolved into a state of instant gratification. With that, the speedy information highway of exchanging text messages and Facebook chats has led to one major problem: Miscommunication. A text message, which lacks all the nuance of hearing a human voice, often leads to confusion about what was the intent of the message. Rarely, if ever, does communication today begin with a phone call. Men and women have resorted to text messages for ‘breaking the ice’ and rely of Facebook ‘Adds’ to establish a relationship. We’re all guilty of participating in the massive deconstruction of real communication. Of course, using a cell-phone and chatting on Facebook are not crimes, and the benefits, such as saving time, are undeniably awesome in so many different ways. But in the process of our rush to modernize communication, have we forgotten about the benefits of past forms of communication? What if, for example, we did away with cell-phones and started clipping on beepers again?
Let me clear, I’m not advocating a return to beepers in 2012. That would be insane and we would rob drug dealers and doctors of their sole identifiable fashion accessory. I’m simply asking us to envision what a return to retro communication would be like. Without turning this into a larger social discussion, it’s worth examining how society would benefit from a return to beepers. More importantly, what are the benefits of a cell-phone free society? Think about it – would the world really end if we all scrapped our cell-phones, brought back pay phones (minus the urine stains and graffiti), and returned to a ‘90s-era style of communication? Indulge me and let’s examine what a world would be like with more generic beeps and less customized ringtones.
You are now entering another dimension. You’re moving into a land of both silence and privacy, of relaxation and better driving. You’ve just crossed over into…The Cell-Phone Free Zone.
Freedom of Speech:
Have you ever just turned off your phone for a few days? Of course you haven’t – but you have put it on silent. So why not take the next logical step and just get rid of your cell-phone? Once upon a time, beepers were used to send short messages with a simple request: “Please call me back.” When you would call back was a personal decision. Girlfriends and boyfriends had more patience. Best of all, you were required to either make a phone call or remain silent. The outcome was beautiful: communication was voluntary, phone calls were made on a regular basis, and the stress level of everyday life was reduced. Just imagine a life without missed calls, blocked numbers, or those annoying mass texts. A cell-phone free society, where we adorn fashionable beepers, would give a whole new meaning to the idea of ‘Freedom of Speech.’
A New Fashion Accessory:
Fashion trends from the ‘80s and ‘90s are making a comeback. So what about beepers? Unlike cell-phones, beepers are always clipped to our belt buckles and visible. This is an opportunity to accessorize and use your beeper to make a statement! Funky stickers, colorful cases, and best of all – you can help make Motorola cool again. I predict society would embrace the beeper as a fashion statement. Reality television would include discussions about beepers. Lady GaGa would write a new song titled My Lil’ Beeper. Politicians, usually caught texting on their BlackBerry devices, would now be using RIM beepers (sans the QWRTY keyboard), to send coded messages to each other.
Beepers were very expensive in the ‘80s and ’90. Gordon Gekko was the type of guy who owned a beeper in the ‘80s. But today, beepers are practically free. Monthly service fees, you ask? Not even worth considering. Unlike a cell-phone, if you drop your beeper in your toilet (this happens to me monthly), you can just run across the street and pay some local vendor $40 bucks for a brand new device. So you may be wondering what it costs to make phone calls using pay phones and house phones? Well, assuming cell-phones are replaced with beepers and you make between 10-30 calls per day (this is the national average), it won’t cost you much. In reality, most people will wait to use their office phone, home phone, or pay phone in emergency situations.
Stuck in traffic? Big deal! Take a load off, listen to some music, and meditate about you upcoming conversation. Before you know it, you’ll spend more time musing on the sound of the ocean current crashing against the beach, the birds and the bees…the good life.
Modern Phone Booths:
Imagine the possibilities of a modern phone booth. First of all, most of the old phone booths are either gone or found strictly in sketchy neighborhoods. A return to beepers, of course, would require the return of phone booths in all their grander. With that in mind, why not go big? The modern phone booth would include all the accessories: a touch-screen to check emails, a hand sanitizer dispenser, and the capability to Skype. In fact, Motorola (who will become the most profitable company in the world during the revolution) could create a portable headset for consumers that are adaptable to every phone booth in the country. The modern phone booth, ladies and gentleman, will be a luxurious experience and will make communication fun again. If it were up to me, the modern phone booth would include a PEZ Dispenser and cost a quarter! Of course, it’s not up to me…is it?
Beeper Codes Can Be Sexy Again:
Remember beeper codes? Of course you do. Communication was simpler with beeper codes. A few digits represented love, an emergency situation, your emotions, and even some of the earliest forms of sexting. If we enter the ‘The Cell-Phone Free Zone,’ we will all need to take a refresher course in beeper codes to avoid the confusion. In fact, it may be necessary to add a few codes to communicate some of today’s interesting quandaries. Here is a list of pager codes from yesteryear and of things to come (New codes include an asterisk*):
30 = THIS IS GETTING OLD
56 = SWEET DREAMS
123 = I MISS YOU
477 = BFFS FOREVER!
601 = HAPPY BIRTHDAY
612 = THINKING ABOUT YOU
*777 = SLEEPING
911 = EMERGENCY! CALL ME NOW!
*1964 = CALL YOU AFTER THE NEW EPISODE OF MAD MEN
07734 = HELLO
*91201 = CAN’T GET INTO THE CLUB/BAR
Please note: There are no official standards regarding pager codes. They vary from state to state, city to city, person to person. Please don’t regard the above as ‘official.’