Friday, January 21, 2011

The sad truth: I now own a cell phone

I have gone 28.75 years without a cell phone. However, sitting next to me as I type this is a brand new pay as you go TracFone. A cell phone. I own a cell phone. I swore to never have a cell phone. I fought people and jobs about why I would never need one. I went from thinking I would never own one, to having just written a text message! Yeah, those things that people do instead of paying attention to their driving.

What has happened to me? Why did I give in and buy a cell phone? Is the world coming to an end?

These are all valid questions. I watch a core group of friends named Adam, Matt and Kris all get cell phones when they were at one point fellow non-cell phone people. I watched as each one decided to get a cell phone for their own reasons, and valid reasons I should add. However, I was sad. As each close friend who was part of my "no cell phone alliance" began getting cell phones I knew my time was limited.

On December 18th, 2008 I wrote a blog called 10 reasons not to own a cell phone and also a blog called why i dont own a cell phone. I stood passionately about this issue. And it took a huge change in my life to realize that I was fighting more against HOW cell phones were used, not necessarily the cell phone itself. Although the cell phone embodies some pretty big evils.

To fully explain how it came to be that I know put a cell phone in my pocket before I leave the house I would have to give you a pretty extensive history of my life in the last six months. Instead, what I am going to do is re-list the 10 reasons not to own a cell phone and along the way explain why I made the decision to have it, despite this great list of reasons not to. Here we go:

1. cost
Cost is still an issue. However, land-line price have been going up, and land-lines do a lot less things. I have been a land-line lad for my entire life. Once I got to Portland, ME and was job hunting while living with a family with no land-line, it became clear I needed a cell phone. Jobs wanted a phone number, and I needed to be able to call people/jobs without driving to a pay phone.

2. dependance
Cell phones combine a dozen different electronic appliances into one small device. It is easy to understand why cell phone owners find themselves at the mercy of the cell phone itself, 'never leave home without it'. The world seems to revolve around the cell phone, instead of the person. It is common to hear a cell phone user saying they would be lost without their cell phone, and that is a scary thing. I vow to never make this a problem I have.

3. cancer
It has not been proven that cell phones are linked to cancer, brain tumors or other psycological imbalances. However, recent tests also can not prove that cell phones do not cause these things either. It is clear that there are some health risks that we are not fully aware of, and that more testing needs to be done. It could be minor, it could be major. I would wait until they figure it out, before you are simply a statistic. I do not sleep next to my phone.

4. replacing electronic devices
A cell phone is a calender, a phone book, a telephone, a camera, the internet, a beeper, an answering machine, a calculator, an instant messenger, an alarm clock, and a daily planner. The simple fact that a cell phone can replace so many electronic devices is frightening, because if you lose the one cell phone you are losing so many tools. It really makes your cell phone something indispensable, and furthers a dependence on a fabricated device.

5. annoyance
Cell phone users seem to be able to ignore this apsect. For me, cell phones are great for interuptions, and can happen at the most inoppertune times. During a lecture, a speech, a conversation, or a movie. People can also elect to answer a call in the middle of a prior engagement, which can be annoying for the crowd, or even be annoying to the cell phone owner. It's another constant thing I might be aware of... is my phone on silent? Is the keypad locked? Is it even in my pocket? Why did I buy this?

6. distraction
I think cell phone use in a motor vehicle should be illegal. 85% of all cell phone users use their phone while driving and 'each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year'. Cell phones can literally kill you. If you call me while I'm driving, you will be ignored until I arrive.

7. laziness
People often use their super phones to be lazy. Instead of paying attention to directions, you can simply call someone to guide you through the city. Instead of learning how to solve a problem you can look it up on the computer or phone a friend. Cell phones instant access to answers creates laziness.

8. impersonal
I find conversations on all phones to be impersonable, and text messanging to be a lame excuse for communication at all. Face to face contact is all but extinct nowadays and we have the cell phone to thank for this. I still agree with myself here, however I do find texting to be an effective tool for giving small amounts of data like, "i'm outside now" or "are you by the fountain?" "what time is the show?" etc. Texting allows for simple answers to questions that do not need a conversation to figure out.

9. memory loss
Going along with laziness it is also proven that owning and using a cell phone on a regular basis will cause memory loss. People memorized more numbers and facts before cell phones and the internet. Unless you are activily trying to counteract the memory loss your cell phone will slowly turn your mind into mush. But at least you'll still have a killer razor phone for show your friends.

10. trackable
Everyone seems to be against trackable chips in our liscenses or identification cards. Meanwhile, we all carry around cell phone that are connected to service towers and account numbers that are easily traced and tracked. Your cell phone is like a tracking device no matter where you go and what you do. I have no idea if they use this technology to track us, but it would be easy to do, and we would have no idea. And this is still an issue.

While I am still opposed to the cell phone culture. I am understanding their usefulness and have found it quite handy in the short week I have owned mine. I do promise to read my own list multiple times over the next few months to remind me of my own concerns. My goal is to use the phone as a functional device, and to make very specific choices as to what functions I want it to serve. I think we should all ask ourselves what our cell phones are to us, and if they are too much, to pull back and use them only to fit our needs, not our desires or to facilitate bad habits.


thetoymaker said...

For years I thought of my cell phone as a "Car Phone" that is a phone to be used in emergencies.

There are some good things about cell phones. Ronn calls me everyday when he is driving home from work. We keep each other company in what would be a long and boring commute. We catch up on the events of the day and I think it makes our marriage stronger.

My 80 year old mother has a cell phone and we talk all the time, same with my brother and sister. Cell phones keep us connected.

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