Numbers outline the world we live in. They surround us, from the complex architectural designs that we live in, to dense algebraic equations assigned by our teachers and to everyday interactions like buying a hot dog across the road. The numbers I want to talk about to you should be just as familiar to students as the ones mentioned above. They are phone numbers.
Last Friday, I was supposed to meet a friend from another school. We agreed to call each other to decide exactly where and when to meet. Unfortunately, my cellphone was left uncharged the night before. The screen turned black, and it remained unresponsive despite my poking and pressing. After a few tries, I gave up the struggle. I borrowed a phone from another friend, and then realized that I had no clue what her number is. Did it start with 416 or 647? Did it end with 4675 or 2475? In the end, I went home to find her number and we didn’t meet that day.
This got me thinking. I started looking through my contacts, just to see if I could recognize who a person is based on their number. Most of them were just a jumble of code to me. There are also numbers that I took down in a rush labeled with names like “k” or “hisfkjb” that meant nothing to me. It seems that I am not the only one experiencing this. Jokes about the awkward situations people encounter after losing their contacts are popping up all over the Internet. One popular example is how a person was caught cheating in a relationship because they typed the wrong name, due to the fact that they had no idea who was texting them.
But it wasn’t always like this, at least not for me. There was a time when I remembered my friend’s numbers better than my own numbers. We used to talk every day on the phone and their numbers were just as familiar to me as their names. However time went by, friendships broke and numbers changed. The more people’s numbers I received, the less numbers I remembered.
This doesn’t just apply to phone numbers. It’s the same with emails, birthdays, and addresses. Facebook, Gmail, and cell-phones keep this data at the tips of our fingers. But in the end, is this bringing us closer or further? If technology is remembering everything for us, what do we have for ourselves? Some say this is the evolution of technology so we have space for things that are more important. Some say this is how technologies that are meant to bring us together are driving us further apart. All I know is that there was a time when to contact a friend I was not so dependant on any single device. Now it seems that I am. So I urge you, dear readers, go and see how many numbers you can remember.
Well, if you want to keep something personal, don't digitize it.
Morris Chen get in here with your pi to the nth digit