Cell Phones are Evil, or: I don’t like my digital leash

by hulk

I wanted to write this about other people and how they use their cellphones. How it’s evil, and wrong, to have instant communication at our fingertips. We don’t need instant communication, etc. I wanted to rant and rave about those I’ve seen and friends of mine who use their cellphones and… then I remembered walking into a room the other day to return a loaner laptop, and I call someone on my cellphone – right before walking into the room. I ask the person on the phone to hold on, transact my business of returning the laptop and signing, and start my conversation with the person on the phone.

Why did I do this? Why didn’t either party stop me and say “You’re being rude”? Why is it that when a cellphone rings and I’m out somewhere with someone, I pick it up and say, “I’m at the mall with so and so. Lemme call you back later?”. Why do I have this ringing buzzing constant-communication device which causes me to be rude to others, to sit in a car ignoring a passenger while carrying on a conversation on a cell phone? To make it more perplexing, I would argue that a cellphone is more likely to be answered than a home phone. If you’re entertaining a guest, wouldn’t you just let the machine get it? Yet a cellphone has voicemail and we answer it anyway. Hi, I can’t talk right now, I’ll call you back. Or, oh hey, yeah I’ve got just a minute (minute being defined as however long we feel comfortable ignoring the other person).

What is it that we so urgently discuss on cellphones?

1. Yes, I’m having a good day

2. I’m getting some gas

3. Oh you know, doing the grocery shopping

4. Yes I did hear that about so and so! Let’s talk about while I’m in this register line and I’ll ignore the cashier!

5. Hey I’m in the bathroom… yes, yes I’m busy

6. Hey I’m at the mall, do you need anything?

Why must these conversations take place? We did just fine before the invention of cell phones. I couldn’t get rid of mine now. It is an instant device through which I can ignore others to carry on meaningless conversations. Hooray!

Of course it ties in wonderfully with the internet. Where else could I rant like this, without careful editing and attention to detail? Where else could I blather on and on without constructing a reasonable argument? I propose that the combination of cell phones, especially text messaging, and the internet will dumb us all down, rot our brains like TV. In rapid communication we are less likely to spend time thinking about what we are saying, or conversing at a comfortable pace where give and take can occur. Instead, dinner parties will consist of couples, each with their own cell phone, carrying on conversations with people in other places, ignoring everyone else in the room. Then we’ll all go on the internet and blog about it. Dump the information in our brains while the written word goes down the tubes.

Save us, Al Gore. You’re our only hope.