Our Cell Phone Culture

cell phonesCan you remember life before cell phones?

A time when if you wanted to get in touch with someone, you had to leave a message, and (gasp!) wait until they returned home to call you back?

A time before digital contact lists, when you memorized your friend’s phone numbers?

A time when if you planned to meet someone at a specific time and they were late, you’d just have to hang around until they got there?

A time when you might have sat for a moment in silence, read a book without interruption, or chatted with someone nearby,  instead of constantly grabbing for your phone to send a text or check e-mail?

It’s hard to imagine, but just give it a try: can you remember life before you had a device with you, at all times, everywhere you go?

Today’s post is about the gadget that has wormed its way into the life of over 80% of American’s lives, and explores what it’s like to live in a world where quiet, un-connected moments are few and far between, increasingly replaced by the twitter of texts and cell phone chatter.  Guest poster SCU student Chris Kelly explores this everpresent issue in his article Smartphones Distract From Reality, writing that cell phones are “changing the way we think about free time.” Chris’s article, ahead.

Chris_Kelly-1_1Chris Kelly is an English major and a Senior at Santa Clara University.  This post is adapted from his article, “Smartphones Distract From Reality, which originally appeared in SCU’s newspaper The Santa Clara.  He can be reached at crkelly@scu.edu.

Smartphones Distract From Reality

It’s annoying, but I find myself doing it. No, it’s not sleeping through the alarm clock or spilling instant oatmeal on my shirt in the morning. It’s that five-minute filler, that substitute for silence.

As far as I am concerned, iPhones and other products of the like are now cooler than neon spandex was in the 1980s or Kanye West’s music is to the current white middle class. I do not personally own an iPhone or Blackberry, but that does not keep me from participating in useless phone conversations in order to kill time. With or without high-tech cell phones, kids, parents, businessmen, the people who steam your lattes and yes, the rest of the world, are changing the way we think about free time.

Modern society is slowly eliminating what we often define as peacefulness, only to replace it with unnecessary, superficial conversation and web surfing.

A college campus, office building or busy city street are perfect locations to witness firsthand how modern society is slowly eliminating what we often define as peacefulness, only to replace it with unnecessary, superficial conversation and web surfing.

How often do you overhear someone on the phone orating something along the lines of “O hey, watcha doin? Nothing? O, me either,” while you, by yourself, are walking peacefully? Tranquility, apparently, has lost its stock value, while looking like Ari Gold from Entourage and keeping extremely busy has broken the glass ceiling of coolness.

While normal texts and conversations are socially acceptable, tethered technologies, such as the Blackberry and iPhone, are the power tools that are constructing the barrier between ourselves and the traditional daily events to which we are accustomed, such as face to face conversation and, more importantly, paying attention to our superiors during college classes and office meetings, instead of the YouTube shenanigans playing on our hand-held screens.

According to Apple, over 16 million Americans owned an iPhone as of last June. I cannot imagine that the Blackberry is very far behind, and I can guarantee that Santa Clara University represents a couple thousand of those in active use and another couple hundred that are now broken from using them incidentally as coasters, bottle openers and napkins. In any case, they are being used as much as 15-cent ramen packets are used in my kitchen.

The infatuation with these phones is not difficult to understand. There are certain tools and games that are simply addictive. How about those crafty widgets? They are the solution to avoiding that moral obligation we call responsibility or using that difficult thing we call a memory. Can’t spell? No problem. Don’t want a real hamster? Put a digital one on your phone, name him Lemmingwinks and feed him when you feel like it; he will not die if your phone runs out of battery.

Maybe, if we are lucky, we will whimsically fall back into the Dark Ages and barbarians will come burn all our books and sack our cities while we drink mead and reinvent the feudal system.

There are, however, plenty of advantages to these dangerous technologies. For example, the new Apple “bump widget,” which allows you to physically bump your iPhone against another iPhone and exchange contact information.

Full length of young men and women holding cellphoneSo next time you are walking by yourself to the library or to your favorite sandwhich shop, instead of screaming out “my friend likes you!” when you see that beautiful girl carrying an iPhone, you can just bump into her and say “Oh, hey, look at that, I got your number, we might as well make this work.”

My personal favorite widget was created by Jordan Palmer (no, not Carson Palmer, his brother). It’s called Run and Pee, a comprehensive list of convenient times to visit the bathroom while watching a movie at the theatre.

Though the program has yet to be officially approved by Apple, I have approved it as totally hilarious and totally necessary for those who order a liter of cola at the concession stand.

So should we continue to embrace these technologies with eager fingers? Maybe, but the next time you find yourself walking to wherever it is that you walk, creeped out by the tranquility that surrounds you, just remember that it’s natural, even healthy, and at the end of the day remember: no one really likes Ari Gold.

It’s become harder to just sit in silence without feeling the urge to check your phone

I think Chris is spot on that people are increasingly “creeped out” by tranquility; everywhere you look, people are glued to their cell phones, and it has become harder and harder to just sit in silence for a few minutes without feeling the urge to check your phone, send a quick message, or search through your phone mindlessly until the period of waiting is over.  Haven’t we all had the experience of waiting for a friend to show up or for a class to start, when we pull out our cell phone and start messaging someone, simply because it feels awkward just sitting there? Tranquility, as Chris says, has lost its stock value: cell phones have bred a culture where it is simply uncomfortable to sit alone without being (or even just looking) busy.  Moments of downtime that perhaps used to be time for quiet thought or a casual conversation with someone nearby are now filled to the brim with ‘texts’ and ‘widgets’ — it seems there’s not a moment that goes by now that can’t be occupied by this tethered technological gadget.

Chris’s article also brings to mind a few interesting points about our “cell phone society”, about the way cell phones have affected communal spaces and how they have changed how we interact with one another.  His comment that cell phones “are constructing the barrier between ourselves and the traditional daily events to which we are accustomed” reminds me of an article by Christine Rosen called, “Our Cell Phones, Ourselves,” in which she writes that cell phones have led to a “radical disengagement in the public sphere” wherein people sacrifice not only etiquette, but also engagement in the world around them as a result of being so cell-phone centric.  Standing in lines at the supermarket chatting away, sitting in coffee shops hooked into our text messages, conducting conversations in person while checking our phones every other minute: cell phones have caused us to become “absently present”— physically in a place but mentally absent, off in another world preoccupied by our phones.

iStock_000007887592XSmallThis “absent presence” is all too common on college campuses, as Chris writes, where students are glued to their cell phones, chatting or texting, paying attention to their miniature screens instead of what is actually going on around them.  It can be almost comical to observe “absent presence” in the classroom, where rows of students are eagerly texting away on their cell phones before, after, and during breaks in classes, often at the expense of talking to their peers sitting right next to them. Indeed, everyone in the room is having a conversation: however, it’s not with each other, but with the network of people they are connected to on their phones.  What effect does this have on classroom dynamics?  On how a community functions as a whole?  Psychologist Kenneth Gergen thinks that this erosion of face-to-face community is a moral failing; Rosen adds, “It would be a terrible irony if “being connected” required or encouraged a disconnection from community life — an erosion of the spontaneous encounters and everyday decencies that make society both civilized and tolerable.”  Is there merit to Gergen and Rosen’s point? Are our cell phone habits harmless time fillers, or are they actually contributing to the degradation of community life?

It may seem like no big deal to whip out your cell phone during these periods of “downtime” in your day…but it is interesting to consider the opportunity cost of these moments that are now busied by “superficial conversations and websurfing”–moments when we used to be able to let our minds wander, or might have struck up a conversation with an actual person nearby.  When you think about life before cell phones, are there aspects of it that you think would be wise to regain? In being so technologically connected, what other connections are we losing as a result?

Questions:

Have cell phones changed the way you experience “downtime” throughout your day? Have you ever tried to go “cell-phone-less” and if so, what effect did it have on what you thought about or did when you would have otherwise been on your phone?

86 Responses to “Our Cell Phone Culture”

  1. egonzalez says:

    Sad to say but I’m one of those students who pull out the cell phone and pretend to be busy when waiting for a friend or waiting for class to start. I personally hate the feeling of waiting around and not doing anything especially in an uncomfortable situation. The need to have my cell phone at hand just started when I bought my first iphone. When I’m not talking to a friend or relative, I’m texting, browsing the web, looking at photos, listening to music, reading my emails, or even changing the settings on my phone. I’m so hooked on it that if I forget it at home I’ll go back for it as soon as I get the chance. Having a cell phone has definitely changed the way I spend downtime. I can’t even remember what I used to do before I got one. I probably watched T.V., spent enough time on my homework, ate with family and conversed with them and most importantly paid more attention to my surroundings. I can’t even count the number of times that I almost got hit by a car because I wasn’t paying attention. Because I’m hooked on my phone I’ve tried going cell-phone-less or at least something close to that. I’ve turned it off for a couple hours and try focusing on more important things. It’ll be interesting to see how I do without it when I travel outside the United States.

  2. Jorge Castrillo says:

    I have to begin my saying that the line “iPhones and other products of the like are now cooler than neon spandex was in the 1980s or Kanye West’s music is to the current white middle class.” was genius. Bravo Chris Kelly.
    But back to the question at hand.

    Cell phones have changed everything, and yes that does include “downtime”. I do any number of things throughout my day when there is a spare moment. I have gone days back to back without my cell phone and there was an element of being freed. Without my cell phone there was a clear feeling of having less responsibility. I also had a strong lack of time; not feeling rushed or pressured to be anywhere. Now that the discussion question has been answered I have a follow up question. Why does it matter that people can not go a day without their cell phone?
    To answer my own question I bring for the argument that people should not attempt to go a day without their cell phone. I believe that social networking, texting, and other modern social devices are heavily befitting society. People are being more social then before by spending so much time on their cell phones. By spending so much time on my phone I have been able to make more connections with more people. A casual conversation of “Hey. Whats up?” can easily turn into “I’m having the worst day in my life” to finally “Thanks for listening”. Texting, for example, has allowed me to take part in a support system that is not limited by geographic location.
    The tone of this post and its question are focused around the assumption that cell phones are limiting social connections for the worse. However, cell phones are not limiting but allowing for deeper social connections with more people. The truth is that social structures are changing. So is it really important if you talk to the person next to you? No. “‘It may seem like no big deal to whip out your cell phone during these periods of ‘downtime’ in your day…but it is interesting to consider the opportunity cost of these moments that are now busied by “superficial conversations and websurfing’–moments when we used to be able to let our minds wander, or might have struck up a conversation with an actual person nearby.” This never happens. The reason that people started texting instead of waiting for this miracle moment is that they never happen. The entire idea of person A meeting person B on the street and them ending up having a meaningful relationship, of any sort, is archaic.
    I have rambled for way too long on this. My points are the following
    1) Over the course of any given day I will spend most of my “downtime” texting.
    2) I have gone without my phone and it gave me a sense of enhanced freedom.
    3) The connections strengthened/made in todays cellphone society are better then those made by picking up casual conversations.
    4) The idea of meeting someone whom you will have a meaningful relationship on the street is adorable. People tried not talking on their cell phones and instead talking to random people on the street and it did not work. People did not find the key to whatever it is we are looking for.

    • christine says:

      I would have to disagree with the belief that going without a cell phone gives one a greater sense of freedom. I think that many would agree with me in thinking that, if anything, going without a cell phone gives almost a sense of anxiety and distress. On the few occasions when I have went without my cell phone it felt like I was missing something. My thoughts were filled with whether someone was going to try and call or text me in an emergency (or even just because) and I would miss it. So it seems that even without this distraction of busying yourself with a cell phone, you are distracted at the absence of it. I think this just goes to prove the point that the article is trying to make on the dependency we are forming for cell phones.

      Another response to this reply that I would like to touch on is the idea that technologies are expanding our connections instead of limiting them. While I do agree that cell phones allow us to stay connected to many more people, I believe that the quality of these connections are the problem. Typing a message to someone is a completely different experience than sitting down and having a meaningful “heart to heart” conversation with someone in person. I often find that it is easier to text someone than to talk to them in person, especially if it is on a tough issue. I think that this article is correct in saying that this dependency on cell phones generally takes away from our communication skills and our relationships with the people around me. Not to mention the annoyance that washes over you when you are trying to have a conversation with someone that is texting instead of listening to what you have to say.

      • msavage says:

        Christine presents a very valid point in her comment about an enhanced sense of anxiety that comes with not having your cell phone with you. I am a runner, and I never take my cell phone with me when I go for a run, and it also doesn’t really enter into my thoughts as I am running, but as soon as I finish one of the first things that I do is check to see if I missed a call, or a text, and on top of that there seems to be a feeling of disappointment that comes if there wasn’t something missed. It’s as if our self confidence or feeling of popularity is attached to how many messages we receive in a day. It is of course an empirical way to measure how much other people are thinking about us on a daily basis, but it also devalues the relationship and the message that the person is trying to convey. There is a focus on quantity of relationships, rather than quality, which is a point I would take up with Jorge.

        I understand that the original intent of the cell phone and other social networking technologies was to increase and enhance human social interaction. It has done this, to the great benefit of society. Now a mother can talk to her son that goes to college on the other side of the country, or a dad can talk to his kids while he’s on business half a world away. People serving in the armed forces can instantly reconnect with loved ones back home to reassure them of their safety and well being. All these social benefits and more have come with communication technologies such as the cell phone. However, to say that it has increased social interaction would be a lie. It still requires that “archaic model” of meeting someone on the street and striking up a conversation with them in order to even get their number so that you can have future conversations via text. Therefore there is a danger to cell phones limiting the growth of new social interaction. I’m not referring to talking to random strangers on the bus or walking down the street, but it has grown increasingly more difficult to strike up a conversation with the person that you’re sitting through a boring lecture with because their cell phone is blowing up. Not to mention conversational skills can be sacrificed when a person becomes used to being able to calculate their response and take their time answering. I have many friends that are hilarious and witty over their texts, but on the spot face to face they are pretty awkward. There is validity to the concerns that Chris is raising, and we should pay attention to the wide use of cell phones and not forget the social ramifications that come from being “cell-phone junkies.”

  3. kevin Laymoun says:

    I although I do not disagree with Jorge that cell phones are indeed a useful and somewhat necessary tool in our present day I will say that they have had some negative effects on our society’s social dynamic. One of the more visible issues with cell phones it their increased usage at the family dinner table, and it brings up an interesting social dilemma: should I be offended if a friend or family member is sitting across from me and texting? Do you value the company of the person you are texting over mine? By virtue of my being here shouldn’t I come to expect more attention? Its happened to everybody, you are in the middle of an extremely stimulating conversation and then the other person’s phone buzzes. All of the sudden they are murmuring and stumbling, and at that point you know that they are weighing the importance of talking with you against texting the other individual. Most often they attempt to do both in which case the conversation tends to lose all intellectual worth as they simultaneously text their friend back and you are left hoping that their friend needs to ask a simple question that can be answered in one quick text. Either way the process is degrading and absolutely avoidable. If I spotted a friend chatting with someone I would wait until they were finished and then proceed to say hi, but with texting it is as if the individual barges into our conversation. In social situations like the one I described the blame should be put on the individual who answers their phone, and naturally begs the question: “why would they do it?” The reason lies behind the very essence of the Blackberry and iPhone, which is to maximize the efficiency of man and to that end make as much possibly available to him at anytime. Our desire to be more efficient and more productive has introduced new and unusual social implications into our lives and it is just a part of technology. Ari Gold is viewed positively because he reflects a hard working and productive persona that is typically more desirable than that of a Johnny Drama-type individual who seldom has anything to do. Although Chris proposes a completely logical idea, that we separate ourselves from our cell phones a little more, it proves less productive and in this case technology is dictating the direction our social dynamic is heading and it seems to be out of our control.

    • Sara Phillips says:

      I think that this was a very insightful response. I find myself very frustrated with those same individuals who attempt to text some person while they also intend to have a meaningful conversation with me. I can relate almost precisely to the situation that Kevin presents, the friend who begins a conversation with me and then quite rudely dismisses his or her mind from the discussion to try to have another conversation with someone through a cell phone. This, I believe, as Kevin states, is “absolutely avoidable”. To allow a technological device like a cell phone to let you virtually ignore another individual is absurd. What kind of courtesy is this? Had that “friend” decided to do that with another person mid-sentence rather than through a text message that would be very rude. But is it not rude when it is done through a cell-phone. It’s just a text message right? No.

      In this situation, both relationships and conversations are diminished. The discussion between the two individuals who are face to face practically diminishes once the “friend” decides he or she would rather text than have enough courtesy to answer with a well thought out response. The text message was probably, in most cases, also rushed and not well-thought out. A text message is already distanced and detached. To answer a text message with a one or two word response shows just how much effort was put into giving a response.

    • Courtney S says:

      I completely agree with everything in this comment. I have been in many situations where I am talking with a friend where in the midst of our conversation they are holding their own conversations with other people on their cell phones. I would definitely agree that it diminishes the value of real life conversations because the attention is split and which makes it hard to have a stimulating conversation when it is continually being interrupted. In a study conducted on March 31st of 2011, The Michigan Daily reported that frequent cell-phone users have reduced interpersonal interactions and can close them off to the world around them. It seems as though we are more interested in responding to text messages from other people than focusing on the conversations we are having face-to-face. Even if we are invested in those real life conversations, it’s hard to resist checking our phones when they buzz. Cell phones have made it more fun to live in this kind of “virtual world” and our desire to be more social and more efficient has problematic implications in our ability to hold conversations in the public setting. I think that disconnecting ourselves from our phones a little more would not be such a bad thing and would in fact aid our interpersonal interactions.

  4. Anisha says:

    I must admit that I am very dependent on my cell phone. The times where I have gone “cell-phone-less” were not by choice. Those times I have found myself moving to other technologies to replace the absence of my phone. The idea of “absent presence” I think goes along with other forms of technology as well. We have created a virtual world that we continually get sucked into, slowly pulling us away from reality. By only talking to people through text message or by phone we are losing the face-to-face interactions which are beneficial to our growth. Having direct conversations stimulates thought because it requires immediate response, whereas if we receive a text message or an email on our phone we can take our time to really think everything out. Like egonzalez said, I honestly can’t remember what I did before I had a cell phone; and now that I have a blackberry which allows me to access internet, messaging, games, etc. I don’t think I would be able to last without my phone for more than a couple days, if even.

  5. BonnieGiven says:

    I’ve never wanted to be a person who depends on their cell-phone on a daily basis. I strive to not be the girl standing outside of the classroom before class starts, viciously typing on her cell-phone keyboard. However, I see people doing this every day and I can not honestly say that I am “addicted” to my cell phone. I’ve gone through countless numbers of cell-phones and each new one I get becomes more and more a part of my everyday life. In fact, it has gotten to the point where if I am with out my cell phone I feel awkward, as if something is missing. I would hate to say that my cell phone has become a part of me but it surely is coming close to this sort of phenomenon. After typing this all out and realizing how cell-phone dependent I truly am, I sort of feeling like banging my head against a wall repeatedly.
    My cell phone has definitely changed the way I experience downtime. I leave my cell phone on at all times, even during the night when I’m sleeping. I want to feel like I have constant contact with others and can reach them whenever necessary. In honesty, my downtime isn’t really downtime at all. I’m still engaged in the ongoing world outside of my dorm room where I am napping or just relaxing for an hour or two. I’m not sure if “downtime” is the same as what it used to be. A decade or so ago, I feel like downtime meant time to oneself ,with out having to deal with interruptions from others. One could lay back, forget about the world for a while, and have some time to just BE. This doesn’t seem like a possibility anymore. People, including myself, seem to hung up in their social lives (work, family, friends, events) that they wouldn’t risk giving up for a significant period of time. Chris Kelly illustrates the impossibility of humanity to be able to take a step back: “Maybe, if we are lucky, we will whimsically fall back into the Dark Ages and barbarians will come burn all our books and sack our cities while we drink mead and reinvent the feudal system.”Obviously, there is little chance that this hope will actually come true.
    I have never tried to purposely go cell-phone less. However, there have been a few times when I have turned off my phone for a few minutes because I noticed myself being so preoccupied with waiting to receive a text message or a call. This helped because I knew that my phone wasn’t going to go off and the only way to know if something did come in was to turn on my phone and check. Nonetheless, that feeling of anxiousness remains whether I am to leave my phone on or off. On the other hand, I don’t like turning my phone off in case of emergencies. I would feel horrible if I missed something important if because my phone wasn’t on. While this seems valid, I often wonder where the end is. Am I going to have my cell phone glued to my hand pretty soon, just to make sure I am always connected to the world around me? Will I start feeling guilty if, at the end of the day, I am tired and just want to turn off my phone and isolate myself for a while? Do other people have these thoughts? It’s obvious that I have fallen into the black hole of cell-phone life. I wonder if there is an end to it, or whether it will only continue to grow worse from here on out.

    • Anisha says:

      I don’t think we see how dependent we are on technology as a whole until we try to think about what our lives were like before we had it. I’ve always liked that I try not to go along with the new technological trends, but when it comes to my cell phone I can’t resist. I never realized how many cell phones I go through and how I use it as my main connection to my friends and family. My cell phone is attached to me wherever I go and not only do I feel the same sense of uneasiness that you mentioned, but I don’t like when other people try to use my phone. It has become such a personal part of my life and contains not only conversations with my friends but pictures, videos, emails, etc. It’s as if by someone taking my cell phone they are getting an inside look on my life. So I’m sad to say I probably would have a hard time carrying on my everyday activities without one.

  6. Molly Quigley says:

    As I read Chris’ article, it was uncomfortably spot on of how my peers, community, and I live our lives everyday. Even as I sit here in the library contemplating the validity of what I read, I look around and see fifty percent of people on Blackberrys and iPhones. Most likely, another thirty percent is probably on Facebook communicating through our ever present technological resources. I reflect on the idea “absently present,” and it resonates very deeply within me. There has been so many times where I am having a very significant conversation with a friend, and he or she is texting. Every now and then they will nod their head or say, “Yes, I totally agree,” when in reality they are not listening at all, consumed in their text or email on their blackberry. Or, I will be in a social situation or party, and there never fails to be the awkward, token person in the corner texting, not really engaging or “being present.” I laugh as I think about how I skyped with my friend in the next dorm building just the other day, only because I was bored alone in my room and too lazy to walk over to her room.
    This recognition of Chris’ idea in my everyday life is somewhat disturbing. What lasting consequences will our addiction to texting, emailing, and lack of tranquility have? Hopefully not what I fear: The value of face to face conversation being compromised. My Dad has a strict no texting policy at the dinner table, and although at times this rule is somewhat irritating, I truly value it because it allows me to talk to my family about their days without the use of any technology. The feeling of a long face to face conversation is incomparable to any type of technological conversation and I hope people don’t forget that. If they do forget that, their quality of life and quality of relationships will be severely decreased.
    I totally agree that people are afraid of the quiet and consider it awkward now. Even I am guilty of walking to class by myself in the quiet and feeling awkward. Because of this, I will call people in my contacts until I get a response. Maybe with this new awareness, I will begin to appreciate the few tranquil, quiet moments I have in my day and be able to proudly walk to class not using my cell phone.

    • IBlack says:

      I completely agree with you as well as the articles take on being “absently present.” In our society today people feel out of the loop if they are not connected in some way to a computer or mobile device. A normal and genuine conversation with someone is very rare because people are glued to their technology at all times, having more than one conversation constantly. Although it is convenient to be in touch with people in this way it is also very burdensome because people lose touch with true reality and forget how to just be themselves and carry on a discussion without any form of technology to help or distract them. Fidgeting and using a phone then becomes habit and without one people forget how to function. If someone loses or even misplaces their phone for a second, world war three erupts. Important things such as family dinners as you mentioned become harder and harder when you are on your phone all the time. People forget how to be social and have face to face conversations. It is smart to set a no cell phone policy rule at the dinner table because traditional conversation is become more rare. Avoiding people also becomes easier with technology. If you are arguing with someone and do not feel like talking to them, texting comes into play. It’s as if you are speaking to someone but you technically are not because it is just easier to simply click a few things on your phone and press send then it is to actually stare at someone in the face and tell them how you feel. I believe it is important to take breaks from technology because it is not healthy to always have to depend on it. Everyone should find time to truly step back and acknowledge that yes, technology is great, but using it all of the time is not.

  7. Creis says:

    Our cell phone habits are getting worse as more and more smart phone apps are being created and released. These apps are designed to make our lives easier, pass the time or even connect us in more ways to the people is our network but it is eliminating us from the people who actually exist in our presence. We are more concerned with the people we aren’t with than we are with the ones who actually are. We’re all guilty of pulling out our phone when we want to avoid an awkward encounter or when we don’t want to look stupid standing all by ourselves while we wait for a friend to join. Whenever there is a split second of time where there isn’t anyone we know around us to talk, it is our immediate response to reach for our phone to avoid looking like a person who has no friends. Our “cell phone society” has us thinking that the people who don’t text a lot don’t have any friends, which is not true at all. The problem with our society isn’t the fact that we aren’t having conversations with each other; it’s the fact that everyone is having a conversation. However, these conversations aren’t with the people we are physically surrounded by.
    The people who aren’t attached to their phone 24-7 are the people who have it all figured out. A recent study by the Inman News shows that the number of people in the U.S that own a smart phone rose 10% in a span of 3 months last summer. With the number of people with smart phones increasing at such a rapid rate, people in the U.S will become consumed by their smart devices more so than we already are. I cherish the peaceful time I spend when I go camping and have to turn my phone off because there isn’t any service. I think many people have forgotten how nice it is to hear nothing and not be connected to the hundreds of people that our phone links us to. Our technology may be advancing at an impressive rate, but role is reversing with who is the consumer and what is consuming. Individuals are so engaged in their phones that our devices are beginning to consume us. As the concept of a device consuming a person sounds scary, the thought of silence doesn’t sound like such a bad thing after all.

    • Nicole Percz says:

      I think that it is interesting when you say that our problem isn’t the “fact that we aren’t having conversations with each other; it’s the fact that everyone is having a conversation.” It is a cacophony of noise, noise that has no meaning. This makes so much sense to me because people look at their phone mindlessly to avoid feeling awkward ALL THE TIME. He or she probably knows that they are doing it and this social tactic is no secret with our peers. It’s almost like no one wants to do constantly look down, but they can’t help themselves. I mentioned below in my post that this is a reflection on our generation. We don’t like to make eye-contact with anything that has less than 8 megapixels.

      I think that this is a bad habit that society has at the moment. I think that it is a trend that we picked up from watching people in movies and not having enough friends or self confidence in middle school. If we were to make a compromise with technology, its discoveries and good it is doing for humanity, and having meaningful relationships with each other, how do you think we could do it?

      • Creis says:

        It’s also interesting to note that while all this technology is created to bring people closer, they are things that we think we “must have” when in reality they are only machines that provide leisure. When the latest upgraded products are released, we are all guilty of wanting to trade in our “old” machines for the newer version when it is totally unnecessary. Technology creates an instinctual inner drive when new products are released because we all feel the urge to purchase these nonessentials. With all the hype technology is getting today, we wouldn’t know how to live our lives without it. Without phones, we wouldn’t be able to call our best friend. Without facebook, we wouldn’t be able to stalk our latest crushes and without our iPads, we would be forced take notes in class by hand. But what goes unconsidered is the fact that we could live our lives without a majority of the products we feel like we need and use everyday.

        Though many of these products are in fact useful and provide us with many benefits, our generation doesn’t know life any other way. Because we have grown up using programs AIM and DVR, living our lives without it is an unknown territory. When our technology fails momentarily or breaks down we panic because not having technology is something we are all unprepared for. We put a lot of confidence in our technology and because of it we face more problems than previous generations had to. In college our parents didn’t have to prepare for the computer shutting down the night before a 12-page research paper is due or have to deal with a momentary a glitch in their iPhone when trying to send a text message. Though these technologies are very useful, we are put in a very vulnerable state but that is something we all overlook.

  8. rglazier says:

    I have owned a cell phone since high school and must say it has become increasingly addictive over the years. While there was once a time that I completed my daily activities without even glancing at my cell phone, I am now compelled to turn it on at least every hour. Even during important activities such as class, work, and exercising, I find myself resisting the urge to check the time, surf Facebook, or text friends.
    It wasn’t until I left the country this summer that the option of using a cell phone disappeared. When my family and I traveled to Italy for ten days this summer I thought I was going to lose my mind without the ability to escape to my friends via texting. I was incredibly surprised, however, to learn that without a cell phone I actually appreciated the things around me to a much greater extent. For example, in Florence we took a four hour private art tour of the great churches and museums throughout the city. If I had had my cell phone in hand I probably would have missed some of the beautiful aspects of the city.
    Now that I have answered the discussion question, I would like to bring up another question. Is texting in your sleep truly a new phenomenon? In a recent article by Charlie Boss in The Columbous Dispatch, medical director Markus Schmidt said that sleep texting has “slipped under the radar” but medical professionals are seeing this phenomenon more and more often. So what do you think about sleep texting? Is it truly the new disease that cell phones are creating?

    • mwesterman says:

      I agree with every post I’ve seen so far and I can see the good and the bad side of this argument. It’s one thing if Sally is trying to stay in touch with friends and check up on each one of them simply because she cares about them. Its a whole different story if Sally is bored with the scene that is taking place around her and texts her friends for no other reason than to seek out excitement in other’s lives.
      Maybe the problem lies within the person themselves. The cell phone is merely a way to communicate with other people. If a person is not content with the action surrounding them then they are a thrill seeker. Or perhaps they just want to start drama. Cell phones may be distracting but they are not controlling us. If I’m going to make the negative argument about cell phones, I’m not going to say that it’s the cellphone’s fault. It is our fault for having such a scarce amount of discipline that we text during a date or during dinner when significant others deserve our undivided attention. The quotation on a man’s shirt in the movie “Happy Gilmore” brings this point together beautifully. The quotation reads, “Guns don’t kill people. I kill people.” We are in full control of our actions and we should not blame what we are ashamed of on a small chunk of metal that can fit in our pocket.
      Another thing that I can not wrap my head around no matter how hard I try is texting while driving. People can’t wait until the end of their car rides to pull out their phones and send a text. Part of the reason for this is that a texting conversation tends to have a sort of rhythm. If one of the texters doesn’t respond for a while and sets off the rhythm, the other texter will get nervous and even angry. These unfair expectations lead to useless pressure that is put on the driver to respond to te text ASAP to keep the conversations rhythm going smoothly.
      There are a couple solutions to this problem:
      1) Pull over to the side of the road and dial for yourself or ask your passenger to dial the number and then talk to the person on the phone. Of course this phone conversation requires a head set, but it’s a whole lot safer than a driver taking their eyes off the road.
      2) Apple has created new technology called Siri. According to NPR at http://www.npr.org/2012/01/02/144583870/driving-and-phoning-whats-new-in-2012, Siri’s robotic voice can be verbally commanded to send texts and read texts aloud.
      As technology advances, problems such as texting while driving should disappear. The only way people can be sure of the death of texting while driving is by taking it upon themselves to have discipline and to have respect for the present and those who are around us for real — not just in the cyber world.

  9. Nicole Percz says:

    I agree with a lot of the points presented in this post. When the writer describes a scenario where a person would feel “awkward just sitting there,” rings true to me. There is a constant need to be looking down at your phone, to look (or feel) busy is a serious problem. I see it everyday, and feel it myself doing it too; this pressure to never be alone or without something to do.

    I think it is a reflection on our society as a whole. With the mass distribution of smart phones across the country, our generation has been taught this notion that individuality or independence in uncool. If a person were seen eating or walking around by him or herself, without a phone or other distraction, most people would feel sympathy for that person. Why do we constantly need to be in the presence of a sort of technology? And when did the presence of technology switch with the presence of actual people? I think that looking at a phone is just an attempt at self image. We don’t want to look or feel awkward in social situations and thus look at a phone instead and feign importance. In some ways a phone is a tool for social structure. Whoever has the most friends/texts has the most power and feels popular. But who are these people really forming relationships with, people or their phone?

    In a CNN article by Doug Gross, he states that cell phones are an excuse to never be bored again. Is boredom something that humans are supposed to experience? Or are we finally figuring out how to keep ourselves perpetually occupied?

    I think that boredom is essential to appreciate excitement. But I do not think that young people are actually addicted to their phones. They just think they are. I have gone long periods of time without any phone and only scattered communication with friends. I have known many of my friends who have been in the same situation. In most, if not all, cases we felt refreshed without our phones. When we came back to reality the phone is almost a necessary evil in order to keep up with our generation in terms of education and social situations. In order to not be left behind or forgotten within our society or with our peers, the cell phone is used again and we forget how much better we felt without one.

    • asharpe says:

      Cell phones have exponentially grown in our society. In middle school, few had cell phones, and in high school more and more people were given them, until just about everyone now owns their own cell phone. Having a cell phone has turned into a normality in this generation, and people use their cell phones even when not necessary. If people are bored or waiting for someone, they pull out a cell phone to look busy. I am guilty of this act, as well as many other teenagers. As seen throughout the blog, many people agree with the fact that cell phones have become a tool that is used without thought. Whether it is being used for checking Facebook, sending a text message, or surfing the web, people take out their sell phone to escape the silence. It’s rare to not see someone with his or her cell phone out in their hand. People tend to cling to cell phones like a necessity. Unfortunately, I am guilty of enjoying the use of my cell phone, but I do know when do put it away.

      People argue that the growth of cell phone use can cause brain tumors or cancer, and while direct causation is not proved, according to Courtney Hutchison’s article for ABC, “Cell Phone Use Increase Brain Activity,” the brain is very sensitive to electromagnetic waves from a cell phone. There is no concrete evidence linking cancer to cell phones but the evidence showing the brain’s reaction to the waves, stirs up some debate. This discussion was never a pressing issue, but with the overbearing use of cell phones, consequences of that use should be considered. Hopefully in the near future the debate about the cell phone issue will resolve, but for now, millions take the risk everyday by using their cell phones.

  10. christinebo says:

    After reading this article the idea of “absent presence”, being physically present but mentally absent resonated with me and relates to what I see every day on campus and in class. I have started to pay more attention to how often students reach for their phone as some sort of safety blanket that makes them feel comfortable and entertained. When a professor allows a break every student leans into their bag and pulls out their cell phone. They sit there in silence mindlessly surfing the web or texting while they are sitting two feet away from their peers. The fact that they are afraid of being awkward while sitting next to their peers makes me feel uneasy about where our generation is heading. Students feel the need to communicate electronically with others instead of conversing and meeting new people around them. The dependency on cell phones that people have these days lead them to be isolated and unsocial.

    I personally can admit to being unsocial by using my phone while in line waiting for something or checking in it class. I have caught myself walking to class completely unaware of my surroundings with my eyes glued on the screen or thinking of someone I can call in the meantime while on my walk. I have recently tried to avoid holding my phone and instead store it in my bag and converse with people in lines or walking past me. One thing that deters me from being social and conversing with others around me is that they are on their phones and I would awkward or rude interrupting them while they are having a so called conversation with someone who is not present. When one person pulls their phone out it causes a ripple effect and everyone else around decides they need to portray the image that they are cool and have other people contacting them as well.

    However, even though technology, especially the constant use of cell phones receives a negative outlook, cell phones are not always bad. It depends on how you spend your time on them. Cell phones can be viewed similarly to the instrumental theory of technology. Cell phones specifically are a tool that can be used in a good or bad way. The problem with society today is that most people use them in an unsocial and isolating way. People may think they are being social by texting, going on facebook and keeping up with their friends, when really they are avoiding personal face to face conversations and social contact.

    In an article from the Denver Post, Colleen O’Conner polled that out of 83 percent of American adults who have cell phones, 13 percent said they pretend to use their cell phones to avoid talking to people and the number more than doubled to 30 percent when polling ages 18-29. Many of these people claimed that they used their phone to create a “social force field” in situations such as avoiding smalltalk in elevators. Even though this seems rude and unsocial it is not something completely new to our generation. Collen O’Conner states “in the sweep of social history, avoiding unwanted conversations by doing things is not new. Think about pretending to read newspapers on buses or in elevators. I agree with Colleen that this is something that is not new, but it has been getting increasingly worse throughout our generation today with the constant creation of new technology.

  11. IBlack says:

    According to the MIT Communications discussion forum which addresses “Cell Phone Culture,” major changes have taken place in the world due to the cell phone. Although the cell phone may be viewed as an alternate resource to avoid actual face to face communication, it still has its benefits. As an excerpt from the article states by James Katz, cell phones have been used to mobilize supporters of political causes and have been credited with helping to augment the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. In France demonstrators used text messaging to coordinate activities and avoid police. In China, text messaging played a prominent role in anti-Japanese demonstrations. Cell phones are being used to save peoples lives as well as be a positive resource in times of need. Current statistics indicate that two billion people currently have cell phones, enough phones for one third of the planet’s population. There are some countries with more cell phones than people. The cell phone is portrayed as glamorous, but also inexpensive. Many users decorate and personalize their phones. As discussed in class and also in this discussion forum, the cell phone has become a kind of art in itself, in which a user’s choice of phone and decoration acts as a personal statement (Katz). The cell phone can be many things, and although it is sometimes hard to step back and break free from it, it is ultimately a vital tool in our society today. Although tt is viewed as a tool to avoid awkward and lonely situations it is more than that. In the end it is a highly exceptional tool that informs and helps society.

    • acarvajal says:

      I agree that phones are a powerful tool when it comes to politics and social reform. I think people are only just beginning to realize the potential cell phone owners have in bringing about change and progress. I think that we need to stride away from using it as an accessory and mode of distraction, and more as the useful and powerful tool it is. We have so many advantages that people just 10 years ago didn’t, and many other people in the world still don’t have. I think it’s time we start putting these to good use and for the betterment of humanity.

    • bbao says:

      While certainly there are many benefits to the cell phone that if utilized properly would make it a powerful tool beyond a social medium, the question remains do most of us use it? The home computer gives us access to more information than any other tool in human history, we can produce artworks that would take years to produce by hand, start revolutions and indeed change the world right at home. But as discussed in class, most of us simply use the computer for games, internet browsing and word processing. The examples of the dramatic impact of cell phone technology in demonstrations and revolutions certainly cannot be argued with, and indeed many cases of police brutality would have flown under the radar had someone not been filming with their cell phone. However I do not think the majority of us will be using our phones the same way we use our computers, for entertainment and perhaps occasionally some work.

  12. AOldfather says:

    Cell phones hate me. After my trusty Motorola RAZR (my very first cell phone) died for no reason after two years of service I have not had a single phone to come close to lasting two years, and it is a miracle if they make one year. I am very familiar with the warranty department, insurance policies, and the AT&T hold music. One might think after years of cell phones giving me trouble I would get a bit resentful at the expensive fragile little beasts, but the plain truth is this: no matter how much trouble they give me I cannot bring myself to hate cell phones.

    Is my inability to loathe cell phones stemmed in a deep-seated fear of awkward situations or boredom? No. Is it sometimes nice to avoid having to talk a stranger when I do not feel like it? Sure, sometimes I am guilty of it. In Core Networks, Social Isolation, and New Media the researcher Keith Hampton finds that using mobile phones, the Internet, and social network actually expand the users core social network (Information, Communication, and Society 2011). Cell phones are helping us expand who we talk to, who we stay close to, and even the people we meet. A considerable amount of people use smart phones to access the Internet and Facebook where they can reach out to not just their texting buddies but also anyone on their friends list (which is most likely full of both acquaintances and friends…maybe even a few strangers if they have enough mutual friends).

    Cell phones may be isolating us in the moment sometimes. I am certainly not advocating sitting on ones cell phone playing games in every social situation (that was me age 13, even at family parities). Cell phones connect us in unexpected ways. I have seen total strangers with the same phone as me and struck up a conversation about it. Do you have any idea how much two Angry Birds players have to talk about? Obviously taken to an extreme cell phones can be divisive and cut you off from the moment…just like anything taken to an extreme can be harmful.

    Cell phones are changing the social world. Maybe we no longer strike up conversations with every stranger at the coffee shop or every peer that by chance sits next to us in class, but we do a lot of new things. At my freshman orientation there was a flurry of exchanging numbers and everyone with a Blackberry was going on about something called BBM. Here were people who barely knew each other but found ways to be connected and for some, stay connected even when they were apart. Phones help us expand the network of people close to us, physically we may sometimes isolate ourselves, but that is to be digitally connected. Is that a problem? Well that may be a matter of opinion. In my experience it is very isolating to try and live daily life without a cell phone, it can cut you off from a lot of important people in your life. Once and a while we should probably take a break from staring at our phones, yes, but overall living without one disconnects us from the new social realm.

  13. jgonzalez4 says:

    This was an interesting read and I found that many of these examples of using cell phones to during “downtime” applied to myself, as well as many of my friends. Obviously there are great arguments for both side of the argument of cell phones, but I personally think that the negative aspects of cell phones outweigh the positive. As much as I love smart phones and all the apps and wonderful things they do for us, it is leading to an anti-social people, especially teens. It’s sad walking into class and the first thing I do is pull out my cell phone and pretending to do something productive instead of having a conversation with a classmate.
    This article reminded me of the first class reading in which Chandler talks about how technology numbs us from our surroundings. It goes to show how influential cell phones are to society. A study on excessive mobile use from sciencedaily.com shows the negative effects of cell phones do not only affect social aspects of a lifestyle but also things such as sleep, fatigue and stress. I found this interesting because cell phones are affecting our health whereas this article focuses more on the effects on our social lifestyle. Although there is a lot of communication because of the new technology in cell phones, it is much more impersonal and I believe it creates a less social atmosphere.

    • iosintsev says:

      I do agree with a point you made that cellphones have more negative aspects then positive.We definitely missing a lot by using our cellphones,like meet with each other face to face rather then talking on the phone.We are not socializing the way we used to.That awkward feeling we have sometimes when everybody around is on the phones and you are not and then you taking your phone out and starting to pretend that you are kinda busy too is simply embarrassing. But it is happening and it’s hard to deal with that,because technology is very addicted,and technology is not standing still it’s progressing every single day and guess society will get more and more addicted to it and this is the way it is.

  14. Blair Boone says:

    I enjoyed this reading because it is a relatable topic for many college students, myself included. The examples that are used throughout the reading, I find myself doing more often than not. When I am walking to class, or I am sitting in class, and I am by myself I immediately pull out my phone to call, text, go on Facebook, or just to look through my apps. I do this because I like to be in contact with my friends who are away or because it simply gives me something to do. Instead of engaging in conversation with those around me I sit there until class starts texting away or on the internet. However, when I look around the class I notice that all of my other classmates are doing the exact same thing. Cell phone use is addictive and somewhat contagious. What I mean by that is once one person is playing around on his or her phone everyone else feels like they should be doing the same thing. I agree that cell phone use has affected the way we communicate with those around us. We would rather be texting or social networking than sitting around with our close friends catching up on what we did that day.

    Benjamin Dangel, the auother of an article on AlterNet.com called, “Communication Breakdown: How Cellphones Hurt Communities”, states “…cell phone use has crept into every aspect of daily life, ironically weakening the basic human communication that is the fabric of any community”. I am seeing a common theme here on how cell phone use is continuing to affect communities everywhere. We isolate ourselves, in turn, resulting in a social atmosphere that is not as personal as it once was before the cell phone.

    The blog reminded me of the reading we read last week by Chandler. The part of the article that discussed how cell phones/technology can be numbing and addictive is most relatable to this blog post. We have become so wrapped up in what technology can do these days that we forget to communicate with one another face-to-face. We are addicted to knowing what is going on in the world and in our friends social lives because of what the cell phone is capable of doing. I will be the first one to admit that I love having my iPhone. It updates me on current events, helps me keep in touch with my family and friends, and it is a very helpful tool to have in today’s world. I think it would be extremely difficult to go without my phone for any amount of time. However, after reading this blog post and further researching this topic, I have come to the conclusion that the cell phone truly has hurt our communication skills more than it has helped us with our communication skills.

    • ajromero says:

      I agree with your point that “cell phone use is addictive and somewhat contagious.” When I want to hang out with people and they are all playing games or texting on their phones, I too feel the need to text someone or play another game of Fruit Ninja. It is uncomfortable to be the only one in the room having nothing to do so I find myself pretending to have something more interesting that I’m doing on my phone. It definitely seems that in a group setting, the people who are not there are more important to talk to than the people who are there. However, I believe that even though technology can be “numbing and addictive,” we ourselves are making it that way. We have become “wrapped up in technology” as you said, but I also think it’s because we chose to. If we weren’t on our iPhones during class breaks, we would most likely not engage in conversations with fellow students but rather stare out the window or pick our nails. In that case, there are many things that get in the way of having face-to-face conversations. Ultimately, it is not the technology that is forcing us to not talk to the person next to us, but we have allowed it to become yet another excuse to avoid social contact.

  15. ajromero says:

    I agree with the fact that most people can’t just sit still and enjoy time alone or face-to-face with friends. My family has always had the policy “no phones at the dinner table” so when I went to college and I noticed that when I’d try to eat dinner with my friends, there was less dialogue than I was used to at high school lunches and at my own family dinners. It seemed as if everyone at the table was texting someone else and occasionally one would look up and comment on how greasy or bland the food was. It seemed as if it would have been the same experience for dinner as if I was alone in my dorm room eating and mindlessly watching television. If I would try to start a conversation with my friends at dinner, no one seemed to pay attention and I’d get no eye contact and sometimes a few nods while everyone was looking at their phones texting someone who wasn’t even there. I’ve also noticed that during class if there is a five minute break, the first thing everyone does is go into their pockets or backpacks and pull out their phones. Even in that five minute break it seemed like people couldn’t get up and stretch their legs and get a drink of water because whatever was on the phone was more important than letting the mind rest for a few minutes.

    However, I think the main point here is that it’s not the technology that is interfering with the ability to communicate with each other, but it is our own selves. We have to beware of looking back on the past with an inflated sense of nostalgia. According to historians Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke in “What Does it Mean to Think Historically” on the American Historical Associations website, “nostalgia conjures an uncomplicated golden age that saves us the trouble of having to think about the past. Our own need for order can obscure our understanding of how past world functioned and blind us to the ways in which myths of rosy pasts do political and cultural work in the present.” In other words, we cannot simply remember the past as the “good old days.” In the early 1900s people feared that the rapid urbanization, industrialization, and immigration in the early 20th century threatened to destroy our family relationships and sense of community. In the 1920s, people feared that the vast technological changes such as the automobile threatened to weaken our communal bonds. This is very similar to the point made by Chandler who argued that “discussions of the political implications of advanced technology have a tendency to slide into a polarity of good versus evil. Because there is no middle ground for talking about such things, statements often end up being expressions of total affirmation or total denial. One either hates technology or loves it…” This is too simplistic of a discussion that fails to consider the complex ways that technology impacts society.

    Inventions like the Smartphone have profoundly changed the way we communicate with and interact with others. However, I would not go so far as to say that “…modern society is slowly eliminating what we often define as peacefulness.” My iPhone is not preventing me from connecting with the world around me anymore than is further connecting me to world around me. Ultimately, I choose who to communicate with, how to communicate with them, and when.

  16. vyu says:

    The part of the article which I found the most interesting was this quote:
    “Indeed, everyone in the room is having a conversation: however, it’s not with each other, but with the network of people they are connected to on their phones.  What effect does this have on classroom dynamics?  On how a community functions as a whole?”

    While the cellphone provides the technology to communicate at nearly any time, any place, and with anyone, it also hinders the ability to communicate and changes the “rules” of communication. Much like there are unspoken rules of society, and norms which one must follow, there is also texting etiquette now, where it is unacceptable to wait too long to respond, or responding too fast. However, mostly, cellphones allow us to be entertained and within reach of almost anything at any time.
    Looking at myself, I have now had a phone for 5 or 6 years and do not remember life before it. I remember my first phone, a flip phone with a camera which could only be used for calling, texting, taking very bad quality pictures, and simple games such as snake. Now, with an iPhone, I cannot imagine life without being able to get online anywhere, watch any videos, download any game, access facebook at all times, and seemingly endless amounts of things. From this article, I realized how much I use my cellphone to isolate myself, as I can walk around campus completely oblivious to everything around me and only concentrating on a small, 3 inch screen.

    Although it does seem like that this technology makes us “absently present,” it has also changed much more than just what we do on the 5 minute break between class. According to the article How the Cell Phone is Changing the World from Newsweek, “the phones now allow Masai tribesmen in Kenya to bank the proceeds from selling cattle; Iranian protesters to organize in secret; North Koreans to communicate with the outside world; Afghan villagers to alert Coalition soldiers to Taliban forces; insurgents to blow up roadside bombs in Iraq; and charities to see, in real time, when HIV drugs run out in the middle of Malawi.” While some families don’t have light or running water, each family has a mobile phone. While this makes me, on some level, happy to see that they have this technology to connect with the rest of the world around them, it also makes me disgusted to see what necessities of society has changed to be. While teens often say they “could not live without their phones,” how far will this statement go?

    • mwesterman says:

      Vyu brings up a very interesting point. In a third world country which is struggling to regulate valuable commodities such as water and electricity, why are smart phones important? This is a completely materialistic idea. Why worry about life’s necessities when you could have a smart phone? In the summer of 2010, I traveled to the Dominican Republic where I volunteered in a small community of around 6,000 people. Sometimes we would have power, and sometimes we would light candles. One thing that stuck out to me was the fact that everyone had cell phones.The Dominicans are used to the coming and going electricity everyday so they don’t hold near as much stress as a middle-class American would feel faced with the same problem. So the Dominicans had cell phones but these phones that the Dominicans took so much pride in didn’t have any minutes. Most of the Dominican kids used their phones to impress peers and to play 30 second sample ringtones such as “In da Club” by 50 Cent. I learned from my experience in the Dominica Republic that cell phones are used in different ways outside of the US. We often think about the pros and cons of cell phones based on communication/connectivity, but we neglect to consider the happiness a 30 second ringtone can bring to a group of kids in the Dominican Republic. I don’t think that the Dominicans are making cell phones a higher priority than electricity, I think the Dominicans have lived with faulty power their whole life and they are used to it. Because they are content with their standard of living, cell phones are just another toy that entertains and helps time go by.

  17. emathwich says:

    This topic came to my attention at an incredibly ironic time. I am in a sociology class where our assignment this weekend is to go offline for at least 3 hours. This means no technology what so ever, let alone a cell phone. So when I began reading and reached the guiding discussion questions where it explicitly asks, what it feels like to be “cell-phone-less,” I realized now was the perfect time to go offline. I shut my computer, sent a text to anyone who might try to contact me that I would be out of touch for a while, and then sat back and tried to think of what to do. As I sat there, I thought about how even to be technology free for just three hours, I actually had to WARN my close friends. The fact that I felt the need to do that just brought to mind how truly dependant my social relationships are on the connections made through cell phones. Almost every interaction I have with my friends and family is organized or done through my cell phone, and I’m even behind the times because I don’t have a smart phone. For the remaining time of virtual time-out, I didn’t know what to do. I felt lost and quite frankly a little bit bored. I roamed the hallways, trying to find something do to but every one was watching football, and TV was against the no technology rules. So instead, I can’t believe this happened, but I actually cleaned my room to pass the time, then laid down and did some reading for my classes. It was a surprisingly productive time out and I definitely recommend it for everyone. I was definitely anxious for the beginning because I felt like I was being punished, but by the end, I felt relaxed and unpressured to be responding to people and constantly checking my phone.
    At the end of the 3 hours, I sat down and began to consider the advantages and disadvantages to being constantly connected through phones. One of the most interesting advantages I came up with was the implications in the medical field. I worked for a house call doctor’s office this summer that was one of the few practices in my area that was completely in the cloud. Every fax, every prescription, every order, and every single aspect of the practice could be accessed and maintained through a computer or smart phone. This allowed the physicians to be constantly away from the office and still take care of the patients on a level that was unimaginable without this technology. In fact, Santosh Krishna, a professor and researcher at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health did a study in 2009 called, “Healthcare via Cell Phones: A Systematic Review,” that followed the level of communication between patient and physician and how it related to the ultimate outcome of their health. She found that frequency of message was related to higher improvements in compliance with medicine taking, asthma symptoms, stress levels, and smoking quit rates. This study shows that our ability today to be constantly connected not only has the potential to impact my social relationships, but my actually health as well. After seeing the amazing potential of cell phones in medical practices first hand, as well as through an academic study, I think that it is definitely true that sometimes we can get too caught up in our phones, feeling the need to constantly be checking for texts and getting distracted from other aspects of our lives. However, at the same time, the abilities cell phones have granted have given us incredible benefits as a society that we will only continue to discover as technology improves and our understanding of its applications grow with it.

  18. iosintsev says:

    I do agree with mostly of the points from the readings and also mostly responses.I’m also the owner of a cellphone for last 6-7 years and I’m using it pretty much since I waking up until I’m going to bed.All of my friends are cellphone users too.The point about that awkward feeling when you wait for somebody or something is very interesting,because it’s actually true for many of us,but at the same time it’s sound really stupid.I find this moment really hilarious,so nowadays we cannot just sit somewhere and wait,we had to do something and the first thing we do is taking our cellphone from pocket or bag and start texting or checking news or facebook page. We pretending to look busy,but we are actually not.I’m also doing it,so after this article I will try my best to stop it:))
    I’m doing a lot of stuff with my cellphone-calling,chating with my friends,checking my email,browsing the web,listen to the music,watching pictures and videos,playing games.Basically it’s a small multimedia center. Everyday I’m making sure I’ll charge for the next day,I feel ‘empty’ without my phone. I can say that I’m hooked.But I don’t think that it is really bad mindset because it’s the way life is going right now,without technologies we’ll barely survive right now,because we so used to technologies,everything based on it and cellphone is just the small piece of tech.But I would like to try to live without cellphone and any other devices for at least a couple of a days,but that hard to do with our lifestyles.

  19. bbao says:

    While this article is interesting and brings to our attention some of the problems the advancement of cell phone technology has brought to our society, I personally do not think it should really be news to anyone, especially for those of us who are attending college. The smart phone performs many of the functions that were once confined only to a computer at home or perhaps a laptop you could bring with you, but without the need for wifi, it is vastly superior in its ability to connect to the web. Personally I do not have a smart phone, though I do admit to being guilty of whipping it out whenever boredom sets in to text my friends. But the problems isn’t simply the lack of interactions having a cell phone may bring; some people seem to be unable to put it aside at all. I’ve noticed in recent years it’s becoming more and more common to have my conversation with someone interrupted by a text, and the urge to check and see what it’s about is like an itch that’s begging to be scratched. And while certainly I try not to check until I’m done speaking with the other person, other people seem to have no problem bringing out their phone and simply putting the conversation on hold until they’ve read and texted back. Some people even seem to have the habit of bringing their phone out to check their facebook or emails when talking with people, as if the conversation was only worth part of their attention. Not only do I find it rude, it’s also a bit insulting to be honest, but again even I can’t always resist that urge especially when the other party is doing the same. And while certainly peeving one person with such a bad habit doesn’t seem so bad, but often people manage to aggravates dozens or even hundreds of people. According to the Washington Post blogger Maura Judkis in a post titled “N.Y. Philharmonic phone disruption: A cell-phone etiquette reminder on 1/13/2012”, an iphone had gone off during Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and the conductor had brought the performance to a halt until the ringing had been stopped. The patron claimed that he had just gotten a new phone and did not know that the alarm could still ring when the phone was turned off. I am not sure if I am more amazed by the fact that someone could be so careless or scared that something like this could happen to me simply because I was not aware of all the functions my phone was capable of.

  20. Cwinding says:

    If I were presented with the common scenario of being stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one thing with me, it would be my cell phone. As I thought about this article, I tried to think of a time when I haven’t had my phone and what it was like. I recalled one time when I had broken my phone and couldn’t use it for an hour or two and remember this feeling of anxiety, and thinking “what if someone texted me and I didn’t get it.” After reading this article, I realized how attached not only I am to my cell phone but also a large number of other people in my generation. The point about how cell phones are changing the way we experience “down time” or “tranquility” in our life really got my attention. When I try to relax, I don’t think of turning off my phone and have it sitting by me and if it rings, I am curious to see who it is. I think our generation has lost touch of having “down time” because we are always so attached to technology.
    Albert Borgmann, a renowned philosopher of technology analyzed our societies use of technology and how it is changing our everyday life. In one of his essays, “Focal Things and Practices,” in a book called “Readings in the Philosophy of Technology.” He presents the term “Device Paradigm,” which suggests that technology has taken away and replaced the “focal practices” in our lives. He explains how powerful these technologies are and how we are so wrapped up in them that we have become blind to the effects. Borgmann suggests that we need to find the “focal things” in life, that previous generations did without being attached to our cell phones (Kaplan, David M., Nick Bostrom, and Julian Savulescu. Readings in the Philosophy of Technology. 2nd ed. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. Print.). We have become so reliant on cell phones and so attached that our generation is less socially developed than previous ones because the majority of our communication is through texting. I am definitely part of this generation and admit that the majority of my communication is through texting but I recognize how impersonal something you say through a text is compared to saying it in person to someone. I think we as a current society should take a step back and really evaluate how we are socially interacting with people and make more of an effort to not just communicate with our cell phones.

  21. spanditrao says:

    In this article, the author mentions how people these days feel awkward “just sitting there” and resolve the peace around there through surfing and chatting on their mobile devices. To a certain extent, I agree that modern society, myself included, constantly feels the need to be communicating, playing games, web surfing, or just doing anything besides sitting, looking around, or reflecting. However, I believe that, for me at least, the reasoning behind these actions goes beyond simply feeling awkward. In the past few years, I have taken 2-3 month vacations to India, where my cell phone doesn’t work, nor do I have internet access. I handle the transition between having a cell phone and not with ease, and my life without the mindless texting does feel, I must admit, much simpler and calm. I have often thought about why I choose to frequently text when in the US when I know it makes my feel restless. The truth is, when I know that all my friends are all able to communicate with each other throughout the day with their own phones, I join in to feel included. I feel pressured in such a fast paced society to keep up with the communication, to add myself to the stream of messaging, and to ensure that I’m not left out of what everyone is talking about. Therefore, I feel that “the cellphone problem” isn’t directly related to the idea that people today are unable to handle peace, but, rather, it stems from the fact that communication technology today now offers the ability to constantly chat, pressuring and encouraging people to use the technology to its fullest, or be left behind. Honestly, although I feel more relaxed in India without my cell phone, I do feel more connected with it in the US. I also feel that I am maximizing each minute in my life when I use downtime to communicate and learn.
    I do, however, agree with the author that cell phones distract, at times, from in person communication. While using downtime as a way to communicate can be justified by the argument of efficiency, the interference of cell phones in real life conversation takes away from relationships. In a January 14th, 2012 article by Matt Hamilton, titled “Cell phone stacking has people making conversation” posted in Connect Amarillo, Hamilton talks about restaurant etiquette with cell phones. Often, observes Hamilton, people pause to read a quick text as their friends are trying to talk to them from across the table. The person does not receive full attention or respect, and the quality of the relationship is severed. Arguably, the person texting may be enhancing their relationship with the person they are messaging, however they are deteriorating real-life and in person relationships. Going back to the point of efficiency, also, constantly interrupting conversations with reading texts drags along rather than speeds up meetings with friends, defeating the efficiency purpose of technology.
    In the end, I feel like the value and impact of technology and cellphones depends on how one chooses to use it. If one is sacrificing real life relationships to text away, or chatting so much that they do not get a mental break to sit and reflect, then cell phone usage will be detrimental to their life. However, cell phones can otherwise enhance communication between far away friends and family and even increase efficiency.

    • KSchulz says:

      I really connected with what you said about cell phones, and I agree. The point you brought up about people feeling pressed to join in on using their cell phones because it seems like so many other people around them are doing the same thing I think is spot on. It’s interesting how much peer pressure can actually influence a person, even if this isn’t the kind of peer pressure one normally refers to. It’s hard to stop this habit, especially when so many other people are doing it, but I think if we really wanted a community that was based more on face-to-face communication, then we could do it. It all starts with one person, then a few more, then a lot more, etc.
      I also liked your point about how it depends on what people use cell phones for. I think that cell phones can be very very helpful, useful, and efficient. It is no doubt part of the reason why they have become so popular. But how do we draw that line between using it for actual need and just using it because we have nothing else to do? That I think is the main problem/issue that arises.

    • AOldfather says:

      Your discussion of the simpler life without cell phones during your Indian vacations resonated more with me than any other stories of being “refreshed” living without a cell phone. I had a hard time relating to the people who said they felt free not using a cell phone during their daily life because of my own experiences feeling lost and disconnected when going without a cell phone. However like you I have experienced the simpler life when either on vacation or even visiting home where my house is firmly in the center of a dead zone.

      This life is certainly simpler, but is it really the “better” one? Or can there even be a better or worse in this debate? The more I read your response and others the less I think there can be a better or worse: just different. By pointing out that it is our own use that determines whether cell phones isolate us or connect us further you reminded me of the point in the Chandler reading: technology is not an end but a means to an end. It is also a reminder that no matter how important the person we’re texting is they can wait a few minutes until the person in front of us is done speaking. Our use of technology ultimately determines its value in our life. The way we communicate may change but the desire to treat our friends and family with respect and to honor those we choose to communicate with whether they are present or not should not change. Technology should not change what we want out of communication only how we do it.

  22. KSchulz says:

    I find this article to be a very accurate and eye opening. Personally, I’m sad to say that I am also one of those people dependent on my cell phone, whether it be for actual needed communication, or for a clutch in awkward situations or waiting for classes, it’s always with me, and usually in use. But this is also the case with the majority of teens in this generation. I do remember a time when we didn’t have cell phones, and when they first came out, only adults, like my mother, had one of those huge flip phones with an antenna and everything. That was when they were just phones created for the purpose of getting in touch with people on the go. But it wasn’t long until they became more compact, and students started getting cell phones as well, initially for the reason that parents wanted to be able to get in touch with their kids if needed. I believe it all catapulted from there, as cell phones began having texting, games, and Internet access, they became more of a toy, as older generations would remark. Indeed, I myself didn’t see the negative impacts at the time, and just ignored my grandparent’s and parent’s remarks on our generation’s fascination and addiction to cell phones and other new technological devices. I seriously thought they were just crazy and didn’t see the great value of having cell phones. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to look at the effect that technology, cell phones in particular, actually had on others and myself. What exactly was it doing to our culture? I found we were all too easily becoming dependent and addicted to the small device in our hands, sending text messages just for the heck of it, and checking FB every few minutes. We missed what was actually going on around us, thinking it was less important. We forgot how to be in the present moment, or the value of it. We perhaps even lost some of our in-person communication skills and didn’t see the stock in that as well.
    When I went on a backpacking trip with my high school through Yosemite for a week, we all had to go without our cell phones, iPods, and any other devices (even a wristwatch was looked down upon) for an entire week. We all initially wondered, “How are we going to survive?!” But it was amazing how much free time we had! We found that we all grew pretty close together, as we were the only people we could reach out to and talk to, and we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. We also noticed our beautiful surroundings of nature that we would have missed if we had our cell phones and other devices. All of a sudden we found ourselves absolutely engrossed in the present moment, and not caring about what day or time it was. It was then that I saw just how much cell phones could impact a person’s life. How many opportunities you can miss by not paying attention to your surroundings or not having actual face-to-face conversations with people, or more importantly, how many moments you can have to just take a little time to reflect on life and or yourself. Often times I find that cell phones and other devices create an environment of being so hurried and rushed a lot of the time that we forget to take some time to sit back and see where we are in life. Perhaps we’re also a little afraid of what we’ll discover about others and ourselves if we didn’t rely on our cell phones as much.
    According to a publishing in Volume 15 of the The American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Journal (AABSS) in 2011 titled The Impact of Cell Phone Use On Social Networking and Development Among College Students, “cell phones have evolved into something more than a simple communication tool, gaining its own place in various aspects of social interaction.” In several studies noted in this article, people reported that they felt their cell phones were actually in some way part of themselves, and also a vital way of maintaining relationships amongst their peers. Among a few pros of having a cell phone, it was also brought up that cell phones provide a sense of security in certain situations, whether they actually be life threatening, or just simply deemed awkward. This article also explores the theories of psychologists Erikson and Elkind. Erikson believed that adolescence was a period of searching for identity, where people search for a place to belong, who they are, and who they want to be, etc. Elkind expands on this idea, talking about how there is a greater sense of self-consciousness and as a result, care greatly what their peers think of them. So these factors can help explain why many teens feel an actual need to have a cell phone for social reasons. However, I believe that having teens use their cell phones as a crutch like that can have some negative impacts on their social skills, hinder their self-esteem growth, and can tend to make people feel entirely dependent on them. If we continue down the path that we’re on as a society as valuing cell phones and even other technological devices as much as we do, that we’re going to miss a lot of opportunities and things going around us, forget what’s really important in life, and even miss some important things that we can learn about ourselves.

    • MSullivan says:

      Your post resonates with me and has helped me to expand my thoughts some more on the pros and cons of this smart phone revolution.
      First off, I can appreciate what you say on the misunderstandings between generations in terms of cell phone usage. I also catch flak from my Mother and my Grandfather from time to time for even glancing at my phone in their presence. Having grown up in pre cell phone eras, they have different understandings of cell phone etiquette (their etiquette seems to still reflect a time when we didn’t have cell phones at all). As far as they are concerned, if you use your phone in front of them (even just to glance at a weather report, etc.), you are showing a lack of interest in them, and therefore disrespecting them. Having spent my formative years with cell phones, my value system regarding this technology is quite different. I don’t get bent out of shape when people text, check weather, or otherwise use their devices in front of me (during lulls in conversation), just as I don’t get offended when my Grandfather checks things in the newspaper while we spend time together.
      Compared to you and I, folks from these pre cell phone/pre personal computer eras grew up in times when local communities were tighter and folks from out of town were less reachable (especially for youths and individuals not engaged in big business, etc.). The birth and evolution of these technologies has essentially made the world a smaller place. In the same way that the advent of sea faring technology brought peoples of the past together for (for better or worse), communication technology is bringing even more and more people together now in the present day, truly creating an intercultural, international, global society; a society in which intercultural communication isn’t just limited to the wealthy and/or the powerful. It is now necessary to be connected and informed to be a player in today’s globalized community.

      Most of the older folks in my family have all been born and raised in one town, or county, or state. I grew up in the Bay Area, Canada, The Mid-West of the United States, Arizona, and most recently lived in San Diego before moving back here a few years ago. That being said, unlike my folks who have always had the luxury of just walking down the street or driving a short distance to stay in touch with friends, I have had to utilize my personal computing devices to keep up with all of my friends who are scattered across North America and Europe. Needless to say, I think that these devices and their capabilities are fantastic. Without them I might have otherwise lost touch with a lot of people. As the study you noted states, my cell phone is vital to my connectedness with friends, however if I can interact face to face with friends, I do prefer to do that.

      Like Chris Kelly writes on this blog, there could also be dangers to this kind of technology.

      I found an article on SFGate.com entitled Tablet computers take wait out of waiting tables (January 14, 2012). In this article, author Stacy Finz discusses the growing use of tablets (and surely cell phones) within restaurants as replacements for waiters and waitresses! To me this would be an example of when the technology is misused or overused. In this case, the technology cuts off personal communication (unnecessarily) and at our detriment. It kills that community spirit, not to mention jobs.

      While there is undeniable value in connecting the peoples of the world and expanding our technological capabilities in general, there is also undeniable value in practicing that face-to-face kind of communication like you experienced on your Yosemite trip. Not only is there value in having that solitude of just focusing on your immediate surroundings, there is also great value in maintaining cohesion and pride in our local communities and peer groups while we incorporate our connectedness with others. This is increasingly difficult as people today get busier and busier and work environments become increasingly global and connected via “technology”, but disconnected personally. We need to strike a balance and find a happy medium. We need to continue to press on and adapt to the changing world while learning lessons from the past. We need to make sure that we utilize technology to connect distant people, not cut off those of us in our local community and milieu.

    • Allison Chesneau says:

      I really enjoyed reading your post, mainly because I agree with the ideas you present about missing opportunities around us because of our addiction to the gadget in our pockets. Sometimes I find myself so frustrated with myself because I notice that during my free time I choose to mindlessly search the internet or text my friends about pointless things just to waste minutes. I think our society needs to remember that even half an hour of complete silence and relaxation can do wonders. We tend to forget what real relaxation is about and use up even more energy playing with our computers.

      There have been studies that show links between cell phones and depression. Not surprising, right? Fitness websites, including Fit Sugar, have written articles such as, “Cell Phone Use Linked to Insomnia” providing information about studies done that prove that cell phone usage before bed can cause insomnia and other problems. A study done by Wayne State University School of Medicine and researchers in Sweden have discovered that radiation from cell phones disrupt sleep patterns and “shorten the deep stages of sleep, important since that is when your brain and body repair and rejuvenate, making exposure linked to headaches, difficulty in concentration, depression, and personality changes.” Although these studies are different from those done to show a variety of downsides to constant cell phone usage, it still goes to show how harmful the effects can be if we use them all the time.

      I enjoyed reading about your backpacking trip and I think it just proves how often we forget to look around us and admire what is there without the presence of our cell phones. Cell phones provide huge amounts of information, but there is more useful information around us that we can retain without the help of our gadgets.

      • emathwich says:

        I definitely understand why people see our cell phone culture as a social network of distractions, and I agree with most of the comments throughout this blog about the isolation, rude etiquette of the users, the possibility of depression (the radiation study was interesting, definitely something to look into and research further), as well as the relief of going off line for a while and not worrying about connecting with people through media, whether its just not checking your phone or going to the wilderness for a week. In fact, I have been going to trips similar to the Yosemite trip where our focus was on ourselves and nature, and not even a wrist watch was allowed. I loved every moment of those trips because I felt free to enjoy life and have amazing experiences for myself, without feeling the need to update my friends and family or to text someone about the mountain I just climbed or wildlife I saw.
        That being said, I think a more important aspect of this new technology is the potential it has given us. I am in no way trying to discount anyone’s arguments about the negative side effects of being obsessed with cell phones, however, I think they are all generally a small price to pay for the leaps and bounds the cell phone, specifically the smart phone, has given us as a global village. We are now able to connect with people from all ends of the earth, learn about their lives, their countries, their traditions, values, and anything else we could possibly want to know, all instantly and from the comfort of our own couch. This has changed the way companies do business, it has changed the way we interact, the music we like, the foods we try, the places we visit, politics, economics, as well as the people we meet. I for one think that no matter how many kids are texting during class or seeming to be more involved with their phone than in real life, the amazing opportunities cell phones have brought to light balance out, and even augment the benefits of being such a connected culture.
        In fact, though kids may be texting in class, an article by Chris Houser in The Proceedings of the International Conference on Computers in Education called, “Mobile Learning: Cell Phones and PDAs for Education,” discusses the possibilities and already on the market options for turning cell phones from an annoying classroom distraction into a vital learning tool. Houser explains that, “Web-based learning, embraced by many educators, extends study beyond physical classrooms. M-learning -learning with mobile devices – promises continued extension towards “anywhere, anytime” learning.” The software is on the rise and it is probably just a matter of time before M-learning becomes a well known application for our phones. The point I am trying to make by this is that with every new development, whether it is political, social, technological, or economic, there will always be negative side effects, unpredictable responses, and ultimately people who can only focus on the annoyances. However, if we were able to focus on the incredible potential of the little device we carry around every day instead of how annoying it is when it buzzes too loudly, then I think we could surpass even the ingenuity of M-learning and continue finding new ways to allow cell phone and smart phone technology to aid our everyday life.

  23. khale says:

    I am certainly guilty of treating my phone as an extension of myself. I have lost several phones to tragic accidents (falling in rivers, getting run over, etc.) and each time I felt as if I were losing a valuable part of myself. I definitely remember feeling awkward without the safety net of my cell phone, and I recall not knowing what to do with myself during downtime. I also found I was more concerned with what my friends were doing in the absence of my phone than I had been before I lost it. Until I received a new phone, I felt like a different person–isolated and uncomfortable. Interestingly enough, however, after having my phone and being constantly available for long periods of time, I find myself becoming annoyed and unable to focus clearly. I share similar feelings with Bonnie Given, where all I want is to be disconnected from the world. Sadly, attempting to turn off my phone is almost as distracting as having it on, for I can only think of what I’m missing out on in the world of technology, thus losing the tranquillity I initially sought.
    In addition to disturbing tranquillity, cell phone use has become disruptive and rude part of society. All of us have experienced obnoxious people screaming on their phones in inappropriate places, and many of us are guilty of texting during a conversation or lecture, often without realizing it. A recent study by ITU Telecom on the social impact of mobile telephony, discusses an advertising program in Europe that attempts to promote proper cell phone etiquette. The campaign originally sought to address proper etiquette in movie theaters, like the ones we have in the U.S., but now targets people who take calls in socially inappropriate places, like churches and restaurants. I was completely flabbergasted upon reading this, and my eyes were opened to the magnitude of our cell phone problem. What state is our society in that we need tutorials to teach us etiquette that should be common sense?

  24. hshonnard says:

    Reading over Chris Kelly’s article, I reminisced about the many times I spent in silence, waiting for a ride, or walking from one place to another without anything to occupy myself. During those instances I never felt like anything was missing, that I felt out of place without preoccupations. Those golden days came before the dawn of my first cell phone, where I became accustomed to constant engagement. After I acquired my first cell phone, moments of silence and peacefulness developed an awkward connotation; that something was foreign, unnatural, and just not right. As school came around I also found myself reverting to my cell phone during awkward pauses in classes whereas before I would have introduced myself to classmates and started up conversations.

    I find it fascinating how cell phones have altered our approach to social activities. Now, instead of spending time with a person face-to-face in order to get to know them, many people use cell phones to achieve a similar goal. Through texting, emails, and facebook, all of which are accessible through a cell phone, social interaction has dramatically changed. Some argue that it has opened a door to easier communication while others warn that this cyber approach to socialization has dangerous side effects. Anita Smith and Kipling Williams describe in “R U There? Ostracism by Cell Phone Text Messages,” the impact of negative social interactions on individuals. In this study Smith and Williams took individuals and placed them into a cyber-group where they received text messages from the members but never met any face-to-face. After becoming fully incorporating into their cyber-community, the individuals were abruptly cut off, or ostracized, from the remaining group members, receiving no further messages. The study found that these ostracized individuals experienced dramatic effects, feeling lower levels of belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence. They also found that these individuals felt strongly enough about being excluded that they wrote more provoking messages than usual. Similar studies expressed in the article explained parallel results. A group of individuals were placed into an online game, Cyberball, which required collaboration with a computer generated game identity to win. The individuals were placed into a group, became situated in the group, and were then ignored. The participants expressed that “being ostracized on Cyberball was just as unpleasant as being ostracized by other human beings”(1).

    The reactions expressed by the individuals in these two studies correlates with Chandler’s argument that technology is an extension of ourselves. These individuals felt the same emotions of hurt, anger, and loneliness from cyber interactions that they would have experienced in face-to-face social interactions. The cyberspace, in this aspect, is just an avenue for humans to project themselves. If cyber-interactions elicit the same emotional reactions as do face-to-face interactions, then where do we draw the line as to which form of social interaction is beneficial for the progression of society? Will we rely less and less on communicating in real instances, or will modern social engagement happen on-line?

  25. MSullivan says:

    I can derive a lot of possible explanations for the use or “overuse”, if you like, of smart phones during our down time. In some social situations it could point to a lack of self-confidence. In such a case, an individual might not feel comfortable engaging strangers, etc. In other social situations, it might be a sign of narcissism, or a self-important attitude, in which case an individual might feel “above” interacting with those around them (back in the day you had to tell people to take a hike, now you can just look too busy to approach). But then again, many of us are guilty of texting, surfing the web, checking the weather, etc. while driving. So how would we account for this? It seems to me that this issue is bigger, for better or worse, than just a reflection of different people’s self-image in our society.

    A strong case could be made that in today’s society, most of us are busier than past generations that were not exposed to all of the computing devices that we are today. With this new modern society and this new modern technology comes more responsibility, more requisite education, more money, etc. to keep up. In my Grandfathers generation, you could make a good living with just a high school diploma. As all sorts of technologies have advanced, so too has society’s pace, the need for more education, and therefore, the need for better time management. Personally, my constant use of my smart phone lends credence to this considering that I’m constantly checking it to better manage my down time. I personally don’t have any games on my phone, nor do I have any other sort of “novelty” apps. With effective time management, I afford myself the leisure time to go and seek out that “peacefulness” that Kelly talks about in this article.

    My peace is found exploring the state of California on my Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It certainly isn’t found playing video games or sitting around inside watching football like half of the bay area seemed to choose to do today! This being said, I think that one of the dangers of cell phones (as well as video games, televisions, etc.) is the reliance some people place on them for their recreation. All of this effort goes into producing the most “life like” sensation for gamers (even those gaming on cell phones). In an SF Gate article entitled, New Sensation: Phones that let you feel the world (January 12, 2012), Peter Svensson talks about a company he encountered at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that is developing a product to replace the already antiquated vibration technology on smart phones. Artificial Muscle Inc. is working on a system that will provide users of tablets, smart phones, video games, etc. with a more realistic and sort of tuned motion response to accompany the already outstanding sound effects that we have come to expect from our devices. This kind of stuff is cool, but the more people are consumed with these virtual reality replacements of life, I feel like we will have more and more people that can simulate real life activities, but less and less that can actually perform them (take sports video games for example), not to mention a decline in health.

    On the other hand, I think that when applied in other ways, these technologies can aid in people’s real life, physical activity experiences. In another SF Gate article entitled: Maybe a smart phone can enhance the great outdoors (January 12, 2012), Tom Stienstra discusses the recent trend of folks using their smart phones to recreate outdoors. They use them to do things such as navigate, choose hiking or biking trails, identify local fauna and wildlife, etc. Purists attack this use of smart phones and maintain that a real outdoor experience shouldn’t involve the use of electronic devices. I disagree. I think that if you have the requisite knowledge to go and have a gnarly Bear Grylls type experience outdoors, then certainly an electronic device could detract from the purity of the experience; however, I think that smart phones equipped with “outdoor” apps, provide people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity with the ability to go and experience the outdoors (to a degree) without extensive training.

    I think that ultimately, the character,ambitions,and opinions of the individual determines how they choose to utilize their smart phone. Personally, I find video games to be a waste of time, but I think that it’s cool that a hiking novice can use a smart phone to access local open space areas. Smart phones can be used in negative and positive ways, but what’s considered good and what’s considered bad certainly varies from individual to individual

    • MSullivan says:

      By the way… This thing is on East Coast Time… It’s 7:11…

    • hshonnard says:

      Is it simply ironic how many of our modern youth use video games to explore the world, or is it something that should be a concern for future generations? Never before have I experienced such an acceptance of the video game culture as now, where individuals live out pseudo-lives online while never putting any effort into experiencing the real thing! You mention that, “All of this effort goes into producing the most “life like” sensation for gamers…” The true sadness behind that statement is that the quest for producing incredibly realistic video game atmospheres is merely a response to the yearnings of the gamers themselves. Once we cannot tell the difference between video-game-life and real life, what will prevent individuals from dedicating themselves to one or the other?
      Now I am not trying to make this a slippery slope argument, but the changes that have occurred over the past decade or so have been so incredibly dramatic that suggesting such an unbelievable future may not be so out-of-the-question at all. During my childhood my parents did not allow video games in the house, something I am eternally grateful for. Instead, my parents encouraged my siblings and me to explore the outdoors with our friends, such as going biking, swimming, or just plain hanging out! I learned that the purpose of free time was to take advantage of any and all outdoor opportunities that I was blessed to have access to, the same perspective that my parents and grandparents shared. Later in life I came to notice a dramatic difference between myself and others that were raised with video games. I know how to bike, swim, fish and kayak, what it feels like to ride a horse, hike to the top of a mountain, or paddle my way down river rapids. I certainly have not experienced everything, but what I have has granted me a truly fun and enlightened perspective of life. My friends from childhood that grew up in the same community with the same opportunities yet played video games, have a different life perspective altogether. Most have not experienced more than one or two of the events mentioned above, even though we shared those opportunities, and utilize their free time by staying inside and playing video games. I guess I will always be puzzled as to why these gamers are addicted to experiencing a limited perception of life through a pixilated screen while ignoring the true life experiences in front of them.

  26. kkmetz says:

    This article did present some some decent arguments pertaining to the idea that as members of today’s society we are “absently present.” I, of course, can admit that I am guilty of mindlessly looking at my phone while waiting for class to start, texting someone while I wait for a friend, or even paying more attention to the little screen on my blackberry that to where I am walking. However, I don’t believe that I am missing out on any sort of “tranquility” when I do these things. If I wanted to feel “tranquil” I would go to my yoga class. I really do not believe that I am missing out anything too life-changing during the awkward 3 minutes when at some point, we are all forced to wait alone at table in the cafeteria while our friend pays for their meal.

  27. Christopher Rincon says:

    I have to agree with Chris’ point that cell phones have significantly affected the way we experience solitary peacefulness, especially on college campuses. Personally, I know that ever since I acquired my first cell phone, I have made it a habit to carry it wherever I go. I hardly go anywhere without first putting my cell phone in my pocket. Like Chris, I see that cell phones contribute to our anxiety as human beings on a day-to-day basis. Constantly, at the back of our minds we think about the next text we’re about to receive, the next call we are going to make, and even the next moment we will glance at the time. If we did not have our cell phones, we simply don’t worry about these things. Furthermore, we need to be weary about how often we use our cell phones because an over-usage can hinder other aspects of our lives, such as academic performance. According to Toru and Harman in their study, “Cell Phone Use and Grade Point Average Among Undergraduate University Students,” the more an individual sends or receives text messages, the lower his or her grade point average typically is. Ultimately, any moment without a cell phone makes us more liberated as human beings. Sadly, I cannot escape responsibility, and nor can anyone else. The cell phone has become a technology that we have all grown entirely too comfortable with. However, seeing as we use it to communicate with others on a consistent basis, not using it would be too hard of a habit to break.

    Harman, Brittany A., and Toru Sato. “Cell Phone Use And Grade Point Average Among Undergraduate University Students.” College Student Journal 45.3 (2011): 544-549. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 14 Jan. 2012.

    • khale says:

      I can definitely understand how text messaging can be harmful to a student’s grade point average. I am not nearly as productive or focused durning study time when my phone is constantly buzzing, and I get about as much accomplished as I would in a room full of chatting friends. I try to ignore my phone, but I feel guilty for ignoring my friends. I completely agree with Christopher in that “any moment without a cell phone makes us more liberated as human beings.” When we are not shackled to our phones, we are free to experience our surroundings more fully, and we do not have to feel guilty for not wanting to talk to our friends and family every moment of lives. I think face-to-face conversations with our friends would be more stimulating and meaningful if we actually had something NEW to talk about. Because we are constantly using our phones to update our friends with our whereabouts and exciting news, we have less to talk about when we are physically with them. The problem with changing this trend is that almost everyone engages in technological communication, so it is not feasible to completely detach ourselves from it. It is true that we have become too dependent and comfortable with technology, but it is something that is here with us to stay.

  28. ftankiang says:

    Although I do agree that cell phones distract from reality as they “numb” our sense of connection to the outside world, I think that it is also important to note the positive attributes that cell phones possess and their ramifications on our daily lives. Technological devices, more specifically cell phones, are often criticized for their negative qualities of being addictive, causing a disconnection from reality, and encouraging their users to become “slaves of technology”. However, what is often unacknowledged is the beneficial features that cell phones can contribute to society, more specifically the potential for these devices to save your life.

    In an article published on the health section of CNN.com entitled “Five Ways Your Cell Phone Can Save You”, Elizabeth Cohen reports an incident in which a triathlon competitor who got lost in the woods and was badly injured used her BlackBerry to seek instant and serious help. Triathlon competitor Leigh Fazzina set out on an eight-mile bike ride during the race, but got lost in the middle of the woods. As she attempted to find a way out of the woods, her bike hit a large tree root causing her to somersault into the air, crash onto her left shoulder, and roll down a hill with her bike hitting her body on the way down. With no sign of help close by, she turned to her BlackBerry as her only possibility of hope. She tried to call her cousin, however the call would not connect. This was when Fazzina turned to Twitter as she had used it often in her health care communications firm and thought that it might work even though the call would not. She tweeted her need of immediate help and indicated her location and within minutes six of her Twitter followers called the police. The callers include a medical student in Michigan, a lab manager in Toronto, and a health care communications executive in the Middle East. The diverse locations of the people who indirectly delivered help to Fazzina show just how far reaching technology really is and how technology that we take for granted, such as our cell phones, can help save our life. In another article called “Signals From Rubble” published in the February 18, 2005 issue of Science Magazine, Chris Holloway states that although it is difficult, it is possible to latch onto the cell phone signal of someone trapped in the rubble of a building that has just been bombed or has collapsed. This is another example of how cell phone technology can potentially save lives during a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

    Although cell phones are often thought of in a negative light as devices that are causing a disconnection from community life, we must also take into account the benefits that cell phones can bring.

    • Christopher Rincon says:

      This instance of a person in need seeking help from distant others through her smartphone really goes to show that cell phones aren’t necessarily disconnecting us from society. Rather, cell phones allow society to connect through new ways and methods, and the results can obviously be far-reaching. Furthermore, the advancement of new communication technologies such as Twitter can allow for faster communication rather more traditional methods, like a phone call.

  29. kkmetz says:

    I think a cell phone is an important piece of technology, and that I am merely using it for its purpose. It is of course to rude sit on your phone and ignore the company around you, but I do not think this is what the article was addressing. I cannot stand when I’m having a conversation with someone and they are constantly checking their phone, but I just don’t think that using my smartphone in during my free time is harmful. I refrain from texting during class because not only does it keep me from paying attention, I feel rude doing so. According to the article, “9 Out Of 10 Students Text During Class,” posted on the internet newspaper cite Huffington Post College, there was a study done at Wilkes University that stated that 91% of student text during class.
    Texting during class is a perfect example of how cell phone usage can be harmful, but simply using phone during free time is not. I actually believe that is can be personally beneficial. For example, I use Twitter, and I follow CBS News, and if I have a free moment to glance at the headlines, I will do so. I think I’m becoming a more informed citizen instead of partaking in meaningless chit chat with a complete stranger. If I see someone I’m friends with, or even aquainted with, I will of course put my phone down and strike up conversation. And, yes, I introduce myself to the person sitting next to me in class. Sometimes I even have a nice, simple conversation. But sometimes I’d rather check the weather. And I don’t really think its a big deal.
    In response to the article’s point that always having to be connected” is a negative aspect to cell phone use, I disagree. I have gone a few days without a cell phone, and I found to be more stressful than anything. Maybe I shouldn’t be so reliant on my cellular device to function as my alarm clock, watch, ipod, and phone, but not having it made my day much more difficult. It was hard to connect with people, make plans, stay on schedule, and even go to the gym because it also contained my music.

    Basically, I don’t think we should be texting and driving, paying more attention to our phones than our friends, or crossing the street while simultaneosly watching a YouTube video on our cell, but using it during “free time” is perfectly acceptable.

    • asaso says:

      I agree with you that the cell phone is a very important piece of technology. It has become more and more apart of everyone’s life weather it be to wake you up, stay on schedule, watch, and most importantly communicate. I think that if it is used correctly like you mentioned then it is hard to see how a cell phone might be negative. But I do agree with Chris in the article that cell phones have has a negative effect on face-to-face communication. I feel like cell phone usage is not as bad to fill your free time but when the individual becomes dependent and lost with out that is when cell phone use becomes a problem.

      Like you mentioned though twitter and texting can also be a good thing to keep up with important news or most recent happenings around the world. I am not sure weather you can really label the cell phone as a bad or good thing because it can be used for many different purposes, it is just up to the user.

      • Gabe Piacentini says:

        I agree with the organizational importance of the cell phones. I do not own a watch and know very few people that do. The organizational reliance of the smart for or PDA is mildly alarming to me as well as the communication factor. Self reliance is something that has appeared to be abandoned.

  30. Shanti Reddy says:

    Funny thing is, I happen to be one of those students who pull out my phone during awkward situations and the second after class gets out. I feel like iPhones are taking over the world and are often what people call a “necessity.” When I travel outside the United States, I often think to myself if I will ever get through that trip. From what I remember growing up, my parents used to use cell phones as a tool, where now we see them as an accessory. The growth of cell phone usage has its pros and cons. The pros include making valuable connections and developing relationships which increases social networking among our community. IPhones have many features and can be denoted as an all in one accessory. With an alarm clock, a calculator, games, camera, and video recorder all built in, it is taking our generation by storm. As these social structures are changing, it is important for us as a growing society to keep up with all the modifications. The cons are of course that there is no “downtime” with cell phones. In my opinion, I honesty miss those days of sending letters and remembering the phone numbers of your friends but we have to keep up with the rapid growth of technology. It might be hard to have downtime with all these distractions around us, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Turn it off and put it away for a few hours. The National Institute of Justice in their article “Cell Phones Behind Bars” relate my thesis on how these new and current inventions are welcome in our society but they make have negative effect .

    • spanditrao says:

      I agree with Shanti that although downtime today is often cluttered with cell phone usage, it is possible to still enjoy those spare moments of silence. Technology, as mentioned, is a powerful communication tool and offers us the ability to connect at any given time. This advantage, however, comes at the cost of greater person responsibility to monitor how and when to use the technology. With so many choices and avenues to communicate, people must judge for themselves when it is appropriate and useful to pull out their cell phones and when it is best to give themselves a break to just stop and think.
      I must admit, though, that it is easy to get caught up in using cell phones instead of giving oneself a break from them. The allure of avoiding awkwardness, sending funny pictures to friends, checking facebook, and playing games clouds many peoples’ judgements on when to give themselves a moment dedicated to just themselves–without worrying about what all their friends are up to. I think the challenge our generation faces, then, is the ability to make healthy decisions on cell phone usage despite the desire to fill each moment of downtime using them.

    • Michelle Castro says:

      I definitely agree with you Shanti on how to our parents cell phones considered a tool, but for our generation they are a necessary gadget. They have everything we need at our fingertips from our calendar, to access to social networking sites, to who we will be contacting to find out where and when we will eat lunch. Even though I also miss the more personal connections we had with people and the presented “downtime”, the harsh reality is that possible “downtime” will be less and less available with the rapid pace of growing technology. That it is when it becomes our choice as to if and when we get “downtime”. I think a lot of people, especially college students, need to realize that we still can be “alone” and have “downtime” but that we have to control our use of technology in order to get that time.

      • kkmetz says:

        I agree with Shanti that for our generation, a smart phone is not just a means of communication between two people, but a completely different tool from what a regular telephone or a cell phone used to be. Instead of simply allowing conversations while at home or on-the-go, a smartphone does become not just our phone, but our alarm clock, ipod, planner, internet access, and of course, a form of entertainment. While I don’t think that it is negative for us to have access to such a convenient tool, I do thing our generation faces the challenge of avoiding dependence on such a tool and not allowing it interfere with our social interactions. Personally, “downtime” for me doesn’t always involve my cell phone, so I do not really see it as a threat to my time to relax. For example, I can go to the gym and leave my phone at home for hour and not be bothered by it. But I can definitely recognize how a cell phone could get in the way of perhaps enjoying a friend’s company if it is constantly going off.
        I agree with the contributors of this thread that is it our responsibility to use our cell phone as a piece of technology that benefits our lives without letting it get in the way of our social interactions.

    • glerude says:

      I agree that cell phones are a “necessity” for the overwhelming majority of today’s society: they are integral to the social lives, private lives, and business lives of countless Americans.
      However, I do feel that this can change. The longer that technology’s current rise lasts the smaller the chance of a cell phone-less society, but I feel that it is necessary to realize that Americans today are being conditioned to use their cell phones for almost everything. And they really do use it for just that: almost everything. Cell phones are now being designed so that they are capable of accomplishing more and more; the amount of tasks that they cannot fulfill is surely shrinking.
      But back to the point about Americans being conditioned to use their cell phones for so much, just look at how a child is raised. Being brought up in a household where older siblings and parents make phone calls in the store, in the car, in the middle of a family boardgame or television show… This simply teaches children to imitate that behavior. And once they start, and become aware of the vast amount of resource, entertainment, and information that a little palm-sized electronic device has to offer, they only become further and further engaged in habits with their cell phones and buried by the technology at their fingertips.

  31. tmondkar says:

    Mobile phones are the new distraction. Reluctantly accepted by the older generation and conveniently engaged by the new generation, mobile phones are comparable to computers during the 1990’s as the new discrepant form of technology.

    My first encounter with mobile phone was towards the beginning of high school. Earlier, before I was exposed to the concept of mobile phones, I did not think much of the mobile phone except that it was a novel invention meant for adults and working professionals. It was not a necessity nor was it given much thought.

    Slowly, it became a necessary accessory that all my fellow classmates acquired and I found myself borrowing their phones in order to make calls to my parents that my after school class was delayed or dismissed early. Finally, at the heightened moment of absolute necessity, I became subject to the “cell phone culture”. It was an odd sort of tool that allowed me to contact my friends with ease, arrived stocked with interesting sorts of ringtones, and served as an unfaltering, unwavering saviour as a mode of immediate contact during my times of extended after-school classes and school projects. My mobile was my new accessory just as much as my pencil and paper was for school: it was the one item I needed to remember to bring every day, carried with me at all (or most) times, and ensured it was neither lost nor stolen. During this period, the mobile served as mode for me to contact people, whether parents or friends, for essential times such as emergencies or delayed school days.

    However, the purpose of the mobile changed rather radically. Witty, addictive games and funky, catchy ringtones became the novelty of mobile phone owners. If someone had a “cooler” game than you did, you would plead and provide the “puppy dog eye” look to your parents to become the new owner of virtual game. The transformation of the mobile’s purpose from necessity to entertainment demonstrates the direction modern day culture has taken. Chandler’s article, What is Technology, explains the progressive numbing and addiction towards the technology we use. Games, apps, and mobile jargon were all rounded into a massive to-do list for the masses to master in order to earn a title of keeping up with the current affairs. It was correctly discussed in the aforementioned article that mobile phones and the mobile culture have dramatically changed our communication abilities and personal interaction with each other. Communication classes were originally created in order to properly and successfully connect with fellow colleagues. Today, classes on media and communications display the overwhelming inevitability to communicate and interact through social media in order to successfully communicate with the masses.

    As I was sitting in the restaurant a few days ago, a couple with a young child sat a few tables away. The couple was engrossed in their dinner while the child was engrossed in his father’s IPhone and IPad. This was a startling and vivid illustration of how quickly the public has adapted to new technology, and furthermore, children and their smooth and quick transition with technology.

    A January 9th, 2012 article titled Mobile phones could be ‘health time bomb’: More than 200 academic studies link use with serious illnesses by Tamara Cohen in the Daily Mail (UK) states that “Mobile phones could be a ‘health time bomb’, say experts who are urging ministers to warn the public. More than 200 academic studies link use of the devices with serious health conditions such as brain tumours, according to a group of leading scientists. In a report published yesterday, they say the Government is underplaying the potentially ‘enormous’ health risks – especially for children, whose smaller, thinner skulls are more susceptible to radiation.”(Cohen). This article suggests the importance for the public to realise the importance of understanding the benefits and complications associated with technology today and the overall effects it has on our social, emotional, and physical well-being.

    Another study performed by Daniel L. Strayer et al. A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver in 2006 Sage Publications reveals that “Epidemiological evidence suggests that the relative risk of being in a traffic accident while using a cell phone is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit. The purpose of this research was to provide a direct comparison of the driving performance of a cell phone driver and a drunk driver in a controlled laboratory setting. When drivers were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone. By contrast, when drivers were intoxicated from ethanol they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking. When driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.” (Strayer et al). This study explains the correlation of impairment due to intoxication as well as impairment due to distraction.

    These studies and articles continue to pluck and peel the increasing issues arising from the uncontested usage of mobile phones and other similar forms of technology and the possible obstacles associated with them. Is the mobile phone culture contributing not only to newer physical disease but also emotional ailments? What can we do to be better informed and understand how to adapt to the technological era while maintaining a level of sound emotional and physical wellness? What is our role in protecting children from becoming susceptible to possible illnesses associated with extreme use of technology while allowing them to converse with technology?

  32. Courtney S says:

    As this article explains, cell phones have indeed become an integral part of our daily lives on so many different levels. Technology has created this fast-paced society where communication with not only one person, but several people at once can be achieved in only a few short minutes. Many commentators wrote that they are glued to their phones 24/7 in fear of missing an important text message or call, or to simply not look awkward standing alone. However, what we really fear is missing out on opportunities we could have had because we “missed the call,” or did not look at the text message right away. When we don’t have our cell phones on us, we feel as if we are “out of the loop” with what’s happening around us because things are always happening so quickly. Our cell phones allow us to keep up with our social lives while not missing a beat. In a study done by the Pew Research Center, they found that the mobile phone has become the favored communication tool for the majority of American teens. On average, they recorded that over half of American teens send around 100 text messages on a daily basis and the frequency use of texting has surpassed the frequency of all other forms of communication. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1572/teens-cell-phones-text-messages
    When thinking over this data, and how it personally relates to myself, I think it is very true that we are “creeped out” by our own silence because it feels awkward or strange when were not conversing with our friends in one way or another. This is the kind of culture that technologies such as cell phones have helped create. All of our beloved social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and Skype (which we can all now access on our “smart phones”) have essentially told us that we need to constantly be updated with what everyone is doing on a daily basis. This is why many of us say we would feel so lost or uncomfortable without our cell phones. Cell phones were created with the intention of connecting people on a social level, yet it is almost concerning how much we rely on them for just that. purpose.

    • rglazier says:

      I love this post and agree with everything you’ve said on it but I want to raise another question: has our generation and the generation below us become to devoted to texting and using our cell phones that it is causing even greater issues? Check out this news story about Australian teens who have become so addicted to their cell phones that their psychological state has been altered (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/teengers-are-becoming-text-addicts-facing-mental-and-physical-issues/story-e6frf00i-1225885927450). Let’s not pretend that these issues only occur in Australia, they are surely affecting teens in America too.
      I can think of dozens of times that I’ve been sitting home bored and send out a mass text just to read the responses, or the times when my phone is on vibrate and I could’ve sworn I felt a vibration but when I click my phone on it lacks the “new text message” message. And I’ve definitely suffered from “post-traumatic Text Disorder” after furiously texting away only to find myself tripping over the curb or walking into the path of an oncoming biker.
      These health risks may not seem to be real but when you think about your own texting experiences, I think you will agree that there is a great danger in texting too much. I love the way phones have made it easier to get in touch of friends and family, given us internet on the go, and even acted as a GPS when I’ve gotten myself lost. But these anti-social behaviors that form from too much texting can be truly detrimental to one’s health and we need to ensure that this new phenomenon does not become the new social norm.

  33. Sandy Nguyen says:

    Chris Kelly’s article eloquently articulates the way in which we lose track of track of time and sense of peace with the smart phone, a modern tool that we constantly find ourselves using. My opinion on smart phones coincides with Mr. Kelly. In addition to his strong stance about smart phones disengaging us from tranquility, we as humans living in modern society create a safe reality (from being awkward or “bored” etc.) with all of these gadgets and gizmos. iPhones and smart phones have distracted us so much that we use them more than we think about or enjoy our very own present state of existence. I am absolutely guilty of this. While I am on my phone more than I should be and I am sure this is the same for many smart phone owners, I feel the pressure to constantly think about the future. The society that we live in forces us to constantly think in terms of “what needs to get done next”, which does not allow us to take a moment and experience our state of being. I understand and have taken into consideration that the way our culture is structured has a large chunk of responsibility for causing the feeling to necessarily be on our phones, but we must also take the responsibility to put our phones down at necessary times. We must do this not only to maybe experience peacefulness, experience our entire existence at any given time, or any other philosophical stance on our human condition, but we must learn how to put the phone down to avoid unnecessary and tragic accidents.

    In an article written on January 13, 2012 from the Washington Post, writer, Ashley Halsy III, states, “Twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cell phones or send text messages while driving, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Safety Council.” This is a perfect example that demonstrates how smart phones can be a negatively powerful distraction. 28% of traffic accidents could be avoided if people were more aware of their surroundings and less engrossed in their smart phones or cell phones when driving. While laws have been implemented to stop people from texting and driving, there is no way that every person on the road will abide by those laws because of the eagerness that we experience when we hear our phones go off. That feeling of urgency and eagerness to check our phones has been constructed by our society and part of the norm. While Kelly’s article does not directly go into the relationship between smart phones and driving, he revealed the issue of how smart phones are a huge distraction in our lives. This issue is present whether it is from the problem of humans losing track of time to the concern of causing automobile accidents. Smart phones were not created with the intention of hurting people, preventing the experience of sheer tranquility, or causing car accidents, but the way in which the a person uses this technology can lead to negative outcomes. Kelly spoke volumes about our society when he stated, “Modern society is slowly eliminating what we often define as peacefulness, only to replace it with unnecessary, superficial conversation and web surfing.”

    Smart phones are not inherently bad. They are absolutely capable of being used in positive and efficient ways. However, it seems as though too much of a good thing isn’t so good after all.

  34. Allison Chesneau says:

    The growing use of cell phones is an inevitable change that we have noticed for many years now. It’s not news to any of us that our society spends far too much time typing away on a cell phone or reading the latest celebrity gossip via iPad. It has become apart of who we are and how we interact with others that it’s too hard to blame someone for starting the fad. Phone companies, especially Apple and Blackberry, have invested all of their time in making the perfect phone to appeal to the public and it is safe to say that they succeed every time. It’s unfortunate that we choose to spend our time hovering over our smartphones rather than talking to the student next to us in math class, but that has become normal to us. I found this particular article to be very informative and interesting to read at the same time because of the use of language and tone of voice. Because this subject is so commonly spoken about, it’s easy for most to have an opinion about it. If we all feel guilty when we read about the subject, why don’t we just do something about it? It’s easy to admit that we use cell phones way too much but it’s hard to take action, like most addictions.

    One of the largest debates that comes with the subject of cell phone and/or computer usage is whether or not it’s essential or harmful when it comes to education. Teachers constantly emphasize the importance of having every cell phone away from their students’ bodies and into their backpacks to avoid distractions and mindless internet searching. In the Spring 2008 edition of the Journal Issue: Children and Electronic Media, Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia M. Greenfield’s article reinforces the downsides that come with owning a cell phone or computer. They state the large problem that, “the challenge for schools is to eliminate the negative uses of the Internet and cell phones in educational settings while preserving their significant contributions to education and social connection.” So when do we draw the line? Research within the article shows that, “over the past century adolescence has become more and more separated from adult life; most adolescents today spend much of their time with their peers.” But when separated from our close friends, we find the need to communicate with them in any other possible way.

    Overall, I enjoyed this article but I find it frustrating that so many researchers write essays and articles about the troubles that come with cell phones and yet we never take any action. Our society is stubborn and most of us would go insane without our gadgets, so the best thing we can do is monitor our electronic usage and keep it to a minimum if possible.

    • Sandy Nguyen says:

      Allison, I really enjoyed reading your response and I found it very insightful and proactive. I want to attempt to answer your question, “If we all feel guilty when we read about the subject, why don’t we just do something about it?” because I constantly asked myself the same thing while I read this article. I am on the same page as you when I think about the way in which researchers have no problem addressing the issue, but do not offer a solution. As human beings, I believe that we must take our own responsibility in controlling the amount of times we use our smart phones. However, it does not seem like it would be a very easy task. While we can take advantage of our devices and use them for a long distance calls to our parents, it can be very difficult to control ourselves when the Facebook app is right next to the call button. Again, we must take responsibility to minimize our usage, but the pressures from our society make this difficult. One possible answer to your question may be that societal pressures are more powerful than our own feelings of guilt. The use of smart phones could also be so distracting that we may not be able to realize what we are doing in the moment of being glued to our phones. The act of communicating with family and friends may seem like a very positive experience, but users may forget that they are completely engrossed in their phones while doing so. While any of these possible answers may not be the absolute and correct answer to your question, I definitely believe that they should be considered in the attempt to answer your question.
      I agree that it is very frustrating to map out our issues and not do anything about them. At the same time, I think that addressing the issue is essential to finding a solution. On the topic of responsibility, an article titled, Embracing the Digital World, in the East Central Post Review, MaryHelen Swanson states, “With the use of electronic devices comes added responsibility.” With this said, it is clear that we must take full responsibility for the way in which we use our smart phones. The device itself does not impose more responsibility in our lives, but the way we use the device adds a new level of responsibility. Smart phones do not force us to waste our time; we are responsible for making sure that we do not waste our time on our smart phones. In order to minimize our usage, we must first understand the issue and then we must create our own solutions.

    • asharpe says:

      The debate about of the use of cell phones is something almost everyone can relate to. While almost everyone owns a cell phone, a large percentage of those users own smartphones. Smartphones can not only call someone, but surf the web, check email or social networking sites, get directions, or pay your bills. This is why people are constantly checking their phone. Instead of talking to a classmate and getting to know them, people will check to see if they have a text message, or surf the web to look busy. Like Allison said, most of my teachers make sure our cell phones are off our body and in our backpacks stored away; teachers have realized that electronics only veer students away from paying attention and learning in class. The majority of my classes at Santa Clara restrict the use of any type of electronics in the classroom, and the classes that do allow them, the use of electronics are abused.

      While most teachers are starting to forbid electronics in the classroom, some schools are promoting the use of electronics. In Olga Kharif’s article “Cell Phones Make Way in Education,” Abilene Christian University is giving incoming students iPhone’s to use in the classroom. Other schools across the United States such as Maryland and Texas, are using smart phones for attendance, and brainstorming during class. William Rankin, co-director of mobile learning research at Abilene Christian University says “[cell phones are] a new platform for learning, in the same way a laptop or a desktop was a new platform.” Although cell phone ownership is at a high, and most cell phones have a capability to add to learning in the classroom, through personal experience, cell phones commonly lead to distraction. If someone around me is using a cell phone, my eyes will wander to what they are doing. Cell phones not only distract the person using the cell phone, but people around them as well. Cell phones can be a great asses to the classroom if use correctly, but how they are used now, that is not a likely scenario.

      Cell phones need to be monitored if used in the classroom; they can be a great asset, but students have not shown to be responsible with them yet. So this leaves the question of “Cell phones prove to have the ability to be a great advantage to the classroom, but how can they be monitored to ensure they are not a distraction?”

      • ftankiang says:

        The debate of whether or not cell phones are beneficial or detrimental in an academic setting is something that I feel resonates with a lot of people. Personally I believe that if students were permitted to use their cell phones in class, most would take advantage of this technology and use it for their own benefit. We usually do not use our smart phones to help us educationally and use them instead as sources of mindless entertainment or to fill our free time.

        Although several people believe that cell phone usage, due to the many distractions it presents, undermines one’s ability to learn, there are several features that they possess that allow cell phones to be quite useful in an academic setting. According to an article posted on innovate online by Marc Prensky entitled, “What Can You Learn from a Cell Phone? Almost Anything” cell phones actually prove to be very useful, despite their flaws, in terms of education. According to Prensky, cell phones can support the most effective learning processes and cell phones “complement the short-burst, casual, multitasking style of today’s ‘Digital Native’ learners”. For example as Internet browsers are now a common feature in most cell phones, students now have easy access to a dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia as well as information search engines. Therefore, cell phones can now act as research tools that would benefit students in school. Another feature of cell phones that can be beneficial in an academic setting is its ability to pinpoint its location through global positioning systems. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has made use of this particular cell phone technology in its learning game, Environmental Detectives, where students can use GPS to locate environmental dangers.

        Cell phones can therefore be beneficial tools in an academic setting, however whether or not they will benefit or detract from the learning environment depends on whether or not they are used solely for educational purposes and do not pose a distraction to other students. I agree with you that when considering how cell phones are used now, they pose more of a distraction than an asset to the learning environment.

    • jgonzalez4 says:

      I think you brought up a great question in your response, however it is a difficult question to answer. It seems like the easy answer is just to stop doing it, but as you stated it’s very similar to an addiction and actually taking an action is very difficult. Like Sandy stated we must somehow try to control our usages in situations in which cell phones aren’t necessarily needed. However, every where we go media is showing us all these new features of these new cell phones and we are pressured into buying these things that eventually consume our lives. Because of these pressures it is hard to come up with a clear-cut solution to this problem.
      The article “Cell phones have negative effects?” from the-dispatch.com shows how cell phones negatively affect both our physical self and our social lifestyle. It’s hard to control our usage because we are often so glued to our technology and we are “numb” to our physical surroundings. An interesting point in this article is that if we continue this attitude toward cell phones we will become slaves of technology. We are the only ones who can control our use of cell phones and other technology and even though it may be tough, it must be controlled.

  35. glerude says:

    This article is well-presented and clear; furthermore, it elaborates and emphasizes a key concept that can never receive too much attention based on the impact that it has on the large majority of Americans today. Technology in all forms is beginning to dominate today’s society, and whether this is a good thing or bad, creating awareness about this concept is necessary.

    Not only is technology, specifically cell phones in this example, a means of communication, but it is now being used in ways that were unthinkable as few as ten years ago. Obviously, it is a large part of people’s social lives: this is its primary purpose, or at least was when it was created. It is consistently used to keep in touch with friends and family who live across the country or even just down the street. It has also made its way to becoming a vital part of the business world.

    But it is also being used to avoid social situations as well. Signalnews, a website loaded with information and articles regarding travel, email, and aspects of one’s social life, recently posted an article from a recent PEW study stating that 13% of Americans admitted to using their cell phones to “prevent unwanted social interactions.” This seems interesting because not only is technology being used to enhance one’s social life, but it apparently is being used to avoid it as well in some situations. This statistic can be found on the following webpage:

    42% are also said to use their phone to “combat boredom” according to the same article. If you are bored or have a few free moments or maybe even an hour, one can now pull up a game or website straight from their cell phones and all boredom will be gone.

    There may be nothing wrong with technological statistics such as these and those mentioned in the above article, but is completely necessary that our society maintains awareness about the rise of technology.

    • Blair Boone says:

      I agree with your post. I think that this topic is one that deserves awareness. The way you point out that cell phones are a means of communication/ people’s social lives and then immediately after that redirect your point to the fact that they are being used to avoid social situations as well, is very effective. It is amazing to me that one object can be used to communicate with people around the world, but at the same time it can discourage us from communicating with people who are sitting right next us. The statistics that you mention back up the points you discuss in your post and they create an awareness for those who had no idea how much cell phones have changed the way we communicate with one another/how we spend our free time. It is important to keep up with the changes/rise of technology because it is necessary for people to understand and be aware of how it is changing our idea of what it means to communicate with one another.

    • scervi says:

      I agree that technology has helped people avoid certain unwanted social interactions- I’m as guilty of that as anyone else. While I might be engaged and active in a classroom environment, I’m afraid that when it comes to normal socializing, I often use technology such as computers, software, etc as an interface between me and the people around me. It’s made it hard for me to feel comfortable interacting with people face to face now.

      Strangely, though, I’ve actually grown to appreciate silence and breaks from the hectic, break-neck pace that technology sets for us. Occasionally I’ll pull up a game on my phone to occupy me while bored or waiting, but more often than not it’s nice to just sit down and take a break to look around me and see things that I hadn’t noticed while glued to my phone.

  36. asaso says:

    I would have to say that the cell phone and technology have had a huge effect on my down time. I am one of 16 million people, of this youthful generation, that has an iphone and is constantly texting or making pointless phone calls when I have any sort of free time, find myself bored or alone. Whether I am waiting for a friend, walking to class, or sitting in a classroom, I can always find someone texting or talking on the phone. Cell phone technology is so advanced now that it can almost serve as a miniature computer. For most students now, their cell phones have become a necessity. Much like clothing, when you’re not wearing your cell phone, you can feel naked at times. I know that when I have lost my cell phone before, and did not have it for a couple of days, let me tell you, I felt disconnected from the social world. It was interesting to see how hard it was to get a hold of anyone without it.
    Technology in general, not just cell phones, has caused our social community to change. Face-to-face interaction is slowly becoming a lost art. Before technology, people relied on sight and voice communications with those in their close community that served as their network. Now, with things like Facebook, email and cell phones the social network is enormous. I read in an article called, How Social Networking Has Changed Society, by Lisa Hoover that, “Social networking services expand the pool of people we have the opportunity to meet to near limitless possibilities”.
    Although cell phones and other technologies are great advancements to communication, I believe that our generation has abused technology to such an extreme that it has caused many negative results. Chris mentions in his article that, technologies, “are constructing the barrier between ourselves and the traditional daily events to which we are accustomed”. The new generation of techies has become so accustomed and attached to their cell phones that personal communication has become the unfamiliar.

    • vyu says:

      This post made me think of technology in general, as opposed to just the physical object of a cellphone. Asaso says that the personal communication has become unfamiliar, due to the attachment to texting and emailing and I think this is very prevalent in cyberbullying, which is a whole new form of violence that was unknown about a decade ago. According to Coping with Cyberbullying: The Use of Technology to Terrify by Suzanne Phillips on pbs.org, “Cyberbullying is anonymous. Perpetrators can torture and harass without detection. Cyberbullying is relentless. It can be conducted 24/7 appearing constantly on the phone and computer that a young person uses on a daily basis for school and social connections. Cyberbullying assaults privacy boundaries in a way that magnifies the horror as it makes damaging material public to an infinite audience that can instantly download, save or forward to others.”
      This shows the effect of technology on making crimes virtually unstoppable as people can essentially act in violence without getting caught, at any time to any place they wish, and spread it to a endless amount of people in an instant. Of course, there are some boundaries on technology and ways to be accountable for what one does online, but I believe that children these days learning that they cannot be caught behind their computer or cellphone screen. They type out messages at ease, which can cause emotional and possibly physical hurt to others, and do this at the touch of their fingertips, without ever having to make a sound. They forget that they are personally communicating with another individual, who just like them, has a face and a life other than one in the screen.

    • Cwinding says:

      I completely agree with the fact that cell phones are causing our social community to change in many different ways. Another aspect that can be observed is our generations lack of ability to interpret body language or facial expressions, which are two key components to interpersonal communication. An article entitled “Is Texting Creating a Generation of Social Misfits?,” by Elisabeth Wilkens, points out the example of getting an eyebrow raise from your mom as a kid which indicated she was mad at you(http://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/technology-and-kids/is-texting-creating-a-generation-of-social-misfits/#). Now that our communication is largely through texting, we have a harder time picking up social cues that we would usually learn throughout certain experiences or situations in our life. Now, our emotions are expressed through emoticon smiley faces via text messages, which are less than satisfactory ways of expressing a real emotion in a situation. As you pointed out in your post, face-to-face interactions are becoming less and less common. Wilkens mentions in her article that adolescents have a harder time holding eye contact or having decent conversations because they are only used to communicating impersonally, behind the screen of their cell phone.
      Although there are few practical solutions for our generation to withdraw from the use of a cell phone, this article points out one way companies are dealing with the situation. She explains that some companies in Silicon Valley have started “topless” meetings, which inhibit employees from bringing in any sort of technology, including laptops, iPhone’s or Blackberries. This “topless” idea hopes to focus more of the attention on the meeting and have less distraction. I think this idea should be implemented in the classroom or at least researched more thoroughly because I think that I would pay more attention if I had no form of technology anywhere near me.

    • tmondkar says:

      This post raises an excellent point of how technologies including mobile phones have contributed towards a regression of communication and communication skills. There is a tendency to prefer online chat rooms versus class discussions or email versus phone calls. “Do You Text 2 Much? Teens losing face-to-face communication skills” by Kellie B. Gormly in the August 2009 Tribune Review article demonstrates exactly this “In the digital age of cell phones, texting among youths has not only become a frenzy; it is a teenager’s preferred method of communication, says Jennifer Austin Leigh, a nationally known teen expert who goes by “Dr. Jenn.” Many young people would rather exchange text messages than have a conversation the old-fashioned way: chatting on the phone, or even talking in person. Many teens seldom answer their cell phones and let incoming calls go to voicemail, in order to train their callers to text instead, Leigh says. Add the texting obsession to the Facebook craze and other online social networking, along with e-mail, and we have a relationship-stunted generation, she says” (Gormly). This article also expands on the disruption in healthy family relationships as well as health problems such as sleep deprivation. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of mobile phones and the role they play in our society. Is it necessary for us to revert back to formal education on how to properly communicate with each other through verbal language without the use of technology? How will this change the structure of higher education and even primary school?

    • christinebo says:

      I agree with the above post when he says that many students today feel naked without some sort of technology, specifically their cell phones. Certain people have a feeling that they when they do not have some sort of electronic that allows them to communicate with them, people are trying to reach them and they are unreachable. There is some sort of fear that they are missing out on something or someone contacting them. I agree that I have felt disconnected or out of the loop without my cell phone at times. However other times it has been nice not to have to worry about what is going on besides what you are actively doing in the present. Yet, I have had the feeling that when you come back to check your phone and you do not have the messages or missed calls you assumed you would, you feel like you are still disconnected and out of the loop.

      I also agree with the idea that “social networking services expand the pool of people we have the opportunity to meet to near limitless possibilities. This is a way in which technology is beneficial. I do think that technology can be cast in a negative light because of its addictive qualities and the barrier it creates and places before us and our everyday events. However, it all depends on how you choose to use it. You can use technology is beneficial and negative ways.

    • ElaineChes says:

      I agree with the fact that people have become obsessed, even dependent on technology. Furthermore, I am most certainly one of those people; however I feel as though my necessity for certain forms of communication (for example my phone and my computer) stem from a necessity. For instance, one of the classes I am in requires no textbooks, and all of the reading is online. For each class there is around forty+ pages of reading, and the cost of printing all of these pages every night would accumulate to an extremely costly amount. As far as the phone goes, I do admit, I don’t NEED a smart phone, but it is a lot easier to connect with the world. I can check my emails from work, or the court, without having to lug a computer around. Finally I, as more and more children are doing now, got my phone at a young age—12, but contrary to what you may think, I did not ask for it. Instead my parents felt it was a necessity as a consequence of me joining a sports team. Often times our matches would run late, so it was hard to predict what time I needed them to be picked up. There are no buses that run around where I live, and my house was about 20 minutes away from the school. It is a big deal not knowing where your child is, and the fact of the matter is that while people did not need such fancy technological gadgets in the past, the world had become a more dangerous place; the innovation of technology brings a little bit of safety back, and a little bit of a comfort to the heart.

    • Shanti Reddy says:

      I would have to agree with this post because the cell phone and technology in general have had a huge impact on our generation. I mean our kids will probably be playing with cell phones by the time they’re in kindergarten. During my free time, my iPhone are figuratively attached at the hip. Walking around a college campus, everywhere I look I see students listening to music, texting, or on Facebook. It’s just the generation we are in. Very tech driven. I remember when I went on vacation with my family to India I almost felt lost and confused without my phone. Even though it wouldn’t work there, just having it near my I felt better. Everywhere I went, the first thing I asked was, “what’s the wifi password?” This is how much technology has changed our era.
      Face to face are now very limited these days with email, texting, Facebook, and online invitation websites. I read in an article called “The Effects and Influences of Technology on Society and Human Kind” by Roger Bennett where he says, “The history of technology is undoubtedly as old as humanity itself.” I have to agree with the person above that we have taken advantage of technology and sometimes think of it as an accessory rather than an important tool. Personal communication has gone down tremendously in the past few years and virtual communication has taken over.

  37. scervi says:

    Chris is dead-on when he identifies being “absently present” as a behavior found in most extensive cell phone users. Our lives are now conducted through our cell phones- online banking, instant messaging, text messaging, Facebook, and other social interaction media within the cell phone itself. As Mikiyasu and Shotaro Hakoma of Central Michigan University observe in an essay they published in The American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Journal (2011, Vol. 15), cell phones are now more important than wallets to many teenagers. Losing a wallet just sets you back for a while in cash and might mean cancelling some credit cards and getting a new driver’s license, while losing your phone means losing any contact with the world outside of the ten-foot bubble of personal space around each of us.

    However, regardless of how unnoticed the cell phone’s intrusion into our privacy and personal life is, I find it necessary to point out that the telegraph, traditional landline phone, and even the introduction of email all changed the boundaries and methods of personal interaction greatly. People used to just show up at a friend’s house, knock on the door, and essentially invite themselves to afternoon tea. Then, they began to call first to see if it was a good time to do so. Then, the phone conversation gradually took over the majority of social interaction rather than the visit itself, and with the introduction of texting, people began to text one another to see if it was a good time to call. This trend, to me, shows that with the introduction of more and quicker methods of communication, the channels of communication become barriers between us and the person we communicate with. But regardless of whether or not people recognize the barriers rising in face-to-face interactions, it is still considered unconventional, weird, or even socially unacceptable to not have a phone, or even to just not enjoy texting. It’s another fad, but one that appears to be growing instead of fading over time.

  38. Michelle Castro says:

    I can admit that I am always on my cell phone whether its trying to catch up with a friend, figuring out where to meet for lunch, or just “texting” while waiting for a friend or for class to start. It is now society’s norm to communicate through our fingers rather than personal interaction with another person. Being alone is now, it seems, looked down upon in society.
    In the December 24, 2007 article “Our Cell Phones, Ourselves” Eric Weiner posted on National Public Radio through Public Broadcasting Station, Leysia Palen, a professor at the University of Colorado states; “In one survey, more than 90 percent of cell phone users said cell phones make them feel safer. Having a cell phone means never being alone. That is not necessarily a good thing”. I feel that society names a person when they are alone as either unimportant or unwanted. When you are in your adolescent years or college if you are seen without using your cell phone it is just uncomfortable. People look at you and assume that that person has no one talk to because other people don’t want to talk to you, which can be an extreme assumption. In the “adult world” or business world if you are busy, always on the go you, or in other words always on your cell phone, you have important things to attend to. You might seem more valuable or looked up to if you always on your phone because it may seem that you are always contacting the next person, or planning the next event, with no time to waste. Again in extreme assumptions without a cellphone, one may look either not very successful, or not in a very important position. Leysia Palen states; “”One of my big concerns about cell phones is we have a generation of people coming up who are not well practiced at being alone. They don’t know how to be alone, and that is really important,” she says. That’s why some have labeled cell phones “pacifiers for adults” or “electronic tethers””.
    It is not only uncomfortable to not be on our cellphone 24/7 but also society makes it even less appealing to be seen alone. I do believe that our generation and later ones will lose out on getting to meet and learn about people through face-to-face engagements. It is actually sad that our society is going to lose out on communicating and social skills due to a piece of technology that was technically supposed to make it easier to do that exact purpose. In “Our Cell Phones, Ourselves” Richard Ling, a senior researcher with Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications firm states; “”If you’re talking with family and friends, you’re just hearing the same thing over and over. It’s through these weak ties, these random encounters, that you hear the new joke, hear about the new job, meet your new girlfriend.” The conversations are not meant to convey vital information, but rather, to make a connection or commiserate or salve loneliness””. Our society is slowly forgetting what it is like to have personal interactions and how to connect with other human beings. With the use of cell phones and their stand in society, the world it seems will rapidly become less and less social and personal.

  39. acarvajal says:

    My iPhone was recently stolen while I was in Mexico, and have had to resort to using a not so smart phone, while I wait for my new iPhone to come in the mail. The time period I was in Mexico without my phone, and these past few days with my “dumb” phone have truly been an experience and a time to self-reflect over the way our society now uses technology such as smart phones, and how I use it compared to how they should be being used.
    In an article by Marketing Charts titled Cell Phones Key to Teens’ Social Lives, 47% Can Text with Eyes Closed we are given statistics on just how drastic the social impact phones, especially the smart ones have had on society. Teens text, just as much (if not more) than they physically talk to family, friends, and peers. Not only does this show that phones have revolutionized our way of interacting as we know it, but also shows the growing epidemic which has seeped into our everyday lives—the never ending need for noise and the growing fear of silence and alone time. It’s so easy to simply fight the silence with some music saved on your phone, distract yourself with a game of Angry Birds, or text someone that you’re bored instead of using the quiet to simply think, reflect, and grow.
    It is so easy to use technology in detrimental ways that we don’t even realize we do it. It’s so easy to use your iPhone as an accessory, which is constantly “blowing up” with mindless texts, emails that can wait, and games that need not be played. We forget just how powerful of a tool one’s smart phone can be—you can constantly be updated in current events, you can more easily organize your tedious tasks so you have more time to go out and explore the world we live in, you can easily say hello to family and friends you don’t get to see everyday, you can spread ideas of change, reform, and progress.
    As I walk around with a phone that only works to call and text, I have come to realize just how lucky we are to have access to something as powerful as an iPhone, and just how important it is for us to actually use them for something productive, and put away the game of Words with Friends, and actually listen to that lecture, read that book, listen to what that friend has to say, or simply and quietly reflect on a day with your complete and undivided attention.

  40. gbricker says:

    Recently my best friend lost his charger, and luckily for him, was able to use mine because we both own a droid. Unfortunately for me, he failed to return it to me one day and so my phone completely died; which left me, or so I felt, without the use of my right hand man as I like to call it. I felt totally cut off from the world and even slightly guilty that people, at that very moment, might be trying to reach me, and wondering why I was unresponsive. In an attempt to reach him, I stayed logged on to Facebook for a good 4 hours and I continuously looked for a sign that he was online so I could contact him. As those hours waned on, I grew increasingly anxious over my inability to contact or be contacted by others, even though the whole time I was completely plugged in to the Internet. I kept thinking what if my mom is trying to call me? What if someone needs me? In my opinion, I believe this is sometimes why we feel the need to constantly be connected; we need to feel needed and wanted, and never want to just take the time to be alone. My anxiousness over having a dead phone was a real eye opener for me. I realized that I depend on my phone entirely too much, and told myself I would make an effort to stop checking it as often, and instead of texting in situations like walking to class or waiting in line, I would enjoy the world around me and in me. I would take those opportunities to reflect, instead of attempting to fill that time with needless noise.
    However, this experience also enabled me to realize how useful my phone is. Without it, I would not be able to communicate as easily with my friends or family. We would not be able to contact each other via phone, because lets be honest how many college students have landlines. My lack of phone made me ask myself how the heck did my parents used to make plans with their friends when they were my age? Cell phones are the main means of communication when making plans because they allow you to contact anyone, anywhere. Before, they must have had to plan a spot, a time, wait for everyone, etc. It all seems so much more complicated and so I am grateful for how easily cell phones allow me communicate with others. Cell phones are also such a large part of dating. Usually, now-a days, before people go out on dates, they start “talking” to the other person; which normally entails texting fairly often throughout the day and getting to know one other. Which, as you can imagine, and might have experienced, has its ups and downs. Again, I wonder how my parents generation started dating people back then, and how much more complicated, and yet personal it must have been.
    Cell phones have truly changed our lives and society; whether for the better or for the worse is a question, I believe, cannot be answered. I believe the change cell phones have brought, can sometimes be beneficial and in other times that is not the case. But in the end change is change, and one person cannot merely define whether or not something is bad or good, because our decision depends on our perspectives, experiences, generation, etc. What is good and beneficial for some people, is not always true for others. Thus, I don’t believe that change is ever good or bad, it just is. It is always interesting to sit back and take a look at how cell phones are constantly changing society, and reflecting on that change.

  41. LauraJ says:

    Its true. Cell phones govern our lives. Nothing gives you a better feeling than checking your phone and seeing new text messages, Facebook notifications, and tweets all at once. When Its not on me I feel anxious, I think I hear a vibrate, must grab my phone. I had a blackberry before, and loved it. Typing away, my fingers moved faster than ever. But I’ve upgraded to the top phone: Iphone. Was it necessary? No. But I had to get it. Living in Palo Alto, I was one of the only who didn’t pocess this beautiful device. It took great quality pictures, had a facebook app, twitter app, instagram all in one. Texts were exchanged faster than ever, it was like chatting online. The world was in my hands. I could do anything I wanted with the click of a button. What is missing about my love for the iphone? Oh the fact that it is a phone. A phone that is used to make and receive calls. But for me that was just a given, it goes unnoticed and it still does.

    In the December 4th, 2004 article The importance of Cell Phones in Modern Society, Keith Kingston talks about how Cell Phones keep us secure, as in we can call the police or people in need. Or even if we are lost, we can navigate ourselves with gps and google maps to where we need to go. But in my opinion it is much more than that. We feel safe with it on us. Ive gone a few days without my phone, and when I finally get to checking it I’m overwhelmed with texts and notifications. People think I’ve died if I haven’t texted them back within 5 hours. It is expected us to receive and text back immediately, and if we don’t something must be wrong with us. We feel naked without our phones, like something is missing. We have a need to constantly be communicating with the world, never resting.

    I went to Tahoe over break with all my friends. We went to my house that has no TV, Internet, and barely any electricity. We used this time to relax away from society and the stress we experience day to day. We drove up to the top of Tahoe, where you can see all the trees and the entire lake. What did we do first? All 5 of us took out our phones snapped a bunch of pictures, Instagramed it (An app which edits pictures making it look more artistic) then posted it to our twitters and Facebooks. We never just stood and took it all in. We were in such a serene beautiful place, and instead of experiencing it right there and then, we had to capture it and post it so everyone can know we were experiencing such a thing. We went back at night sitting around a table talking sharing stories, and we looked around each one of us were on our phones. Its not like we had someone to talk to, It was just browsing Facebooks mini-feed, or reading tweets. We all had it in our hands and couldn’t seem to put it down. We finally stacked all of our black iphones and left it on the kitchen counter. One of us would get a text and we wouldn’t know which one, since we all had the same ringtones. It drove us crazy, but we wouldn’t allow it. It made us anxious, knowing someone had contacted us and we couldn’t reply back. But we knew what we had to do, and this attachment had to stop.

    Its crazy how much we love our phones, and how much we expect of it. Sometimes I find myself tuning out my friends and just being deeply mesmerized into my phone. Its so much better, so much more interesting. But what I need to realize it isn’t reality, and It actually is disrespectful to the people around me. I miss out on the little important things of life. The walk to class, seeing people I know or just even enjoying my day. What needs to be done? The phones must be put down, and we need to be aware of our surroundings here and now. Without it we will lose touch with humanity, and the present moment which truly is a tragedy.

  42. Gabe Piacentini says:

    It is alarming to see not only how much the assertions and trends resonate with me but also with everyone else who has commented on this post. There is a definite truth staring us in the face in terms of how communications utilizing technology has changed the way we interact face to face. We have come to rely on asynchronous communications using technology for base communications. I find myself applying for jobs and finding excuses not to speak directly with the potential employer on the phone so that I can prepare answers asynchronously. This occurs often to the point that I have lost valuable communications with potential employers. A part of me has begun to think we have forgotten how to think on our feet and be honest from each other. The classic example of this is text from unknown cell phones, instead of being honest and letting the person know they don’t have their contact information, many people I know delay and then lie saying they lost all of their contacts. This is a commonplace move. What is the harm in not having contact information. If two people recognize each other, why should it matter that their celluar devices do not recognize each other.

    Scott Campbell found in a study for the Human Communications Research that heavy cell phone users are less likely to engage in interpersonal conversations with strangers in public settings. While social anxiety is ever present for some people, this does have some affect. I believe that reliance on technology has allowed many people to carry on “effective” social lives without having to be exposed to social anxiety, increasing social anxiety amongst heavy technology users. Think about it, when was the last time you had a conversation with another person on a plane?

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