Illustration by Reg.
People with super big phones have always looked weird when using them as originally intended.
Laughing at somebody holding a shiny platter o' tech with the proportions of a family sized block of choc up to the side of their head never gets old. They look like they're talking into a giant Milky Bar.
Maybe that's why Big Phone People increasingly seem to hold them with the awkward, unnatural poses of TV ad actors pimping out a choccy bar. I lost count of the number of times I saw kids, especially Asian kids, doing this last time I walked through the centre of Sydney; holding the phone out in front of their mouths, five fingers splayed around the oversized display, with the speakerphone activated to avoid having to lay the ol' fondle slab up against the side of their head, where it might block their view of oncoming traffic.
It was the same thing in Brisbane, just before I flew out.
Three times - while I was out with the hound, walking off the dangerous levels of Christmas-ham fat that had somehow crept into our tummies - I saw the same thing. Honking big phone, held like a platter in front of the face. It got me to pondering the tech war between Samsung and Apple, wondering whether Sammy might have blundered into a realisation that the fruit company missed.
People don't use their phones much as phones as any more. They're books and magazines and game consoles and whatever app they have launched at that moment. So while a Super Big Phone might look ridiculous when used as a phone, perhaps some people, a lot of them in fact, are willing to put up with that because they just don't make that many calls any more. They connect via text or Twitter or Facebook or whatever. And when they do call, they've given up pretending these humungous fondle slabs work anything like an old, trad, speaking tube.
Old school's in
''This is what the world looked like before the internet, son.''
''Wow, I like the world before the internet, dad,'' he replied. We were at Melbourne's Luna Park, in St Kilda, at the tail end of dusk, with true night rushing towards us beyond the bright lights of the rides and the roar of the roller-coaster. We turned six kids loose in Luna Park, with the bookies paying short odds on jaded boredom causing them to roll their eyes all the way back in their little heads after half an hour. But four, cold, shivering hours later it was the parents begging to go home, as these kids rocketed from Gravitron to Vominator via the Hideous Fried Food Stand.
So, sometimes Old School wins. It was #winning with Charlie Sheen levels of awesome outside the Christmas display windows at Myer, on Bourke Street, where dozens of punters were lined up in long queues that snaked back on themselves, all for a quick peek at Russell the Sheep's Christmas shenanigans, a series of not-at-all lifelike moving dioramas repeated at Myer's flagship stores across the country.
I think those long, snaking lines might be a Melbourne thing, though. I personally checked out Russell in Brisbane, and friends from Sydney confirmed, that although the woolly hero of this year's Yuletide display was OK, outside of Melbourne he didn't seem to inspire the sort of devotion that calls for long queues, guided by chains and rigidly enforced by chunky blokes from Bouncers-R-Us.
A bit of a step
Can you still see your toes? Mine go missing at this time of year, hidden behind a blubber eel that takes up residence shortly after the start of the summer drinking season, and grows large on the generosity of the associated ham and pork and pudding seasons. All of which leads inevitably to the seasons of regret, remorse and unsustainable resolve to Do Something About It on January 2 - January 1 being a bit of a blur.
I'm calling this year's fitness fad early, however. My brother-in-law secret-Santa'd me a Fitbit, a small, wearable lozenge of high-tech pester power and I've been wearing it while on holiday. Smaller than your pinkie, it slips into a pocket or clips to your shirt, measuring the number of steps you take each day, the number of stairs you climb, the kilojoules you burn, and the tonnes of secret shameful doughnuts you try to quickly cram into your head-hole when you think nobody is watching.
OK, that last one you have to log in yourself, on the website, which is where this pedometer with an inflated sense of self-worth really shines. It's cool seeing your stats rack up on the little dingus, for sure, but it's the game-like aspect of collecting badges and awards and tracking your progress against other ''players'' that provides the stimuli those of us who spend most of our time slumped in front of a screen can relate to.
There's a heap of these things coming at you next year, and updates to older phone-based apps that have been around for a while. All of them take the addictive elements of video-game play and social media, layering them into an exercise and diet regime.
It's great, but would probably work better if it could deliver a small, painful electric shock every time I got within cooee of the doughnut shop.