On March 10th, the New York Times ran a story about the perils of depending on one’s cellphone address book and how virtually all numbers, even local, now require ten-digit dialing. Research shows that the human brain is not “wired” to remember more than nine digits, so as a result we have to depend on technological crutches. When was the last time you memorized a phone number? I don’t know any of my friends’ numbers. I have them either programmed into my mobile phone or into my handset at home. I do, however, keep multiple backups of the address book, on several computers and in a separate online location, so I could restore if I had to.
The article in and of itself is interesting; however, I noticed a cultural phenomenon in the Times that would have been unthinkable even a couple of years ago. Take note of this passage:
Perhaps the most frustrating part was that Mr. Gillis had been dating someone in Manhattan and couldn’t get in touch with him until he returned to the city. “I felt completely alone,” he said. What’s more, for those friends whose cellphones were their primary or only phones, he could not even resort to directory assistance.
A close reading of this passage reveals that the person Mr. Gillis (a twenty-four year old student at Teacher’s College in New York) is dating is male, ie, a boyfriend. The fact that this same-sex dating relationship in reported in the same matter-of-fact way that heterosexual relationship would is a sign of the progress that the gay movement has made.