22 September 2017Last updated

Features | People

Suresh Menon: sizing up the future

Phones have gotten our columnist all wired up

Suresh Menon
18 Apr 2016 | 11:32 am

Now, just as I was getting used to the bigger phones, comes the news that the next big thing (so to speak) in phones is smaller phones. This is like discovering after you learn to drive a car that the bicycle is what you should really be working on. Or perhaps not. Modern technology plays havoc with analogies.

The big phone meant that, like many modern tennis players, I had to use two hands to deal with certain challenges. The backhand for the tennis player, and messaging for me. Not having been trained to use just the one thumb of one hand to send messages since the age of three (which seems to be the minimum requirement), I needed two thumbs and two hands. Occasionally I thought wistfully of the so-called lower species that might actually be able to use four limbs. Every little helped.

I am old enough to remember when people used all 10 fingers to write out messages. It was called typing, and was quite popular among those who had a family typewriter that had been handed down from generation to generation. 
It had no screen at all, believe it or not!

But I digress.

We were speaking of smaller phones, which were once all the rage, until they were replaced by bigger phones, which are now being replaced by smaller phones. No prizes for guessing what’s going to happen next.

How does it work? Do phone manufacturers meet in secret over dinner and decide what the next thing should be – big or small? Rather like fashion designers, who I am told conduct a secret poll and then announce to the world that ‘red is in’ or ‘wear ties broad this season’. The maverick who thinks that red is out or ties ought to be worn narrow is locked up until the word spreads, the world does the bidding of the cartel, and it is too late to change anything. The same with Italian food (pasta is passé) or length of hair (don’t show your ears).

If you wait long enough, everything comes back. That is the essence of fashion. My father wore the same kind of clothes all his life, but he was alternately at the cutting edge of fashion and viewed as a dinosaur as the definition of chic kept changing at regular intervals. He didn’t follow fashion, fashion followed him.

On second thoughts then, smaller phones do not worry me. I will retain my big-phone skills and merely wait it out till the big phone becomes – surprise, surprise – the new rage. Until then, 
I shall eat, pray, love. And repeat. Just like the size of the phone does.

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Suresh Menon

Suresh Menon

is a writer based in India. In his youth he set out to change the world but later decided to leave it as it is.