The first mobile phone I had was the Nokia Brick. It had a proper name, I’m sure, but that’s how I remember it. The Brick had just three functions: making calls, sending texts and playing Snake – a strangely addictive game with graphics so basic it made Pacman look like CGI.
Its memory was so limited it could fit just 90 names and numbers in its contacts book. At the time, this could be fairly frustrating. If you met someone new and wanted to see them again you had to physically delete someone else from your life. It made for awkward moments when swapping numbers. What if the person you eagerly gave your details to decided you weren’t quite important enough to make the 90?
But perhaps Nokia was onto something. Our phones now have almost unlimited space for contacts – hundreds, if not thousands, of people we’ve met once at a dinner party, bumped into in a couple of times in a bar, shared a dinner with at a conference. Close friends are squeezed into digital address books between that guy who used to work for whatshisname and someone called Derek with a French phone number who you can’t even remember meeting. Our Facebook pages can become similarly cluttered with updates from half-forgotten acquaintances and people we went to school with.
It’s time to go back to basics. A cull is called for. I want a phone book I can scroll through and find people I actually want to speak to. You know, friends.
There is also something cathartic about deleting names and numbers of people that, for better or worse, are no longer in your life.
And if you’re looking for a number to limit your address book to, 90 seems as good as any. Two sets of friends getting married in the next few months have limited their receptions to around the 90 mark. Any more and you’re getting into cousin-you-haven’t-seen-for-years territory, any less and good friends will miss out.
So it’s time to bring back the Rolodex and put your work contacts and random business cards there. Leave the address book on your mobile for the people you actually want to see.
Oh, and bring back Snake. It was better than any app on the iPhone.