Unevenly distributed: love on the phone, yesterday and today

“We speak on the phone, but where is your body?” Suzanne Fellini sings in “Love On the Phone,” an all-but-forgotten piece of punk-inflected pop schmaltz from the dawn of the Eighties.

“It’s so hard when I’m feeling on fire/and all I can hold is the telephone wire.” The telephone in 1980 wasn’t a primitive technology; phones were ubiquitous, interconnected on a single transparent network, with only the wire to remind us of the tenuousness of our connections. You can’t push on a string; you can’t embrace over a wire. The phone suffers from the tragic fate of the go-between; as Sophocles said more than two thousand years ago, no one likes a messenger.

Since then, however, things between us and our phones have gotten, well, complicated. Maybe the telephone got tired of being our amorous go-between; maybe the phone got jealous. So it went off and got a makeover. And now—now, we fall in love with phones. They see us; they seduce us. And if the ad spot below is any guide, they’re very particular in the company they keep.

[wireless wave spot via ads of the world]

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