Cell Phones Destroying Art of Communication
By: Andrew Hanelly, Daily Collegian (Penn State)
November 16, 2006 1:31 PM
(U-WIRE) UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's about time cell phones got called out.
When the idea of cell phones replacing traditional telephone land-lines first started courting the American public we were infatuated with how easy our lives would be with them.
It was love at first sight and we anxiously awaited the ring tone. And all the voluptuous benefits of cell phones easily wooed us into our marriage to them. They promised to save lives and time; they would allow us to never be more than a phone call away from loved ones and police departments - we could socialize on the road or call AAA to tow us off of it. Cell-phones talked a smooth game, and we fell swiftly.
But now that the newlywed feeling has faded, the flaws of a cellular nation are beginning to wake up. We might not have realized it, but cell phones have more than grown on us - they've become another body part. And this plastic surgery of phone to ear has the potential to make us miss out on the life we're allegedly making better with them.
If the honeymoon of our cellular marriage was the drunk dial, then the morning after is the wake-up call reminding us of what we did the night before. It became a love/hate relationship that had the ability to simplify and complicate things simultaneously.
And our culture has death to real life communication on speed dial.
Students mill into hallways reaching for their pockets when classes let out.
In the past, you'd predict that the majority of students would be going for cigarettes (not that some still don't) but nowadays our fix doesn't come from Marlboro, Newport and Camel, but from Verizon, Sprint and Cingular.
University Park is witness to the cellular phenomenon sweeping it and the nation where you can see two people, walking side-by-side, fully engaged in conversations in their respective cell phones.
If cell phones were first rung up as an alternative avenue to communication they've graduated into the only major expressway for our conversations - and we're all but ignoring the scenic route we called small talk.
We replace campus walks guided by the narration of our thoughts with strolls with a trivial cellversation as the soundtrack, relaying mundane details to roommates we'll probably repeat them to later. Sometimes we use cell phones to save 15 percent or more on our insurance, but more often we use them to make the 15-minute walk from campus less lonely - and much more pathetic.
Our dependency to these devices runs deep. When our phones ring, vibrate or play Ludacris tunes, we respond like a dog to a high-pitched whistle. We immediately cut ourselves off from the real world - a chiming cell phone rudely trumps in-person conversations and makes cell phone-yapping customers annoyed when the McDonald's cashier interrupts their cellversation to take their order - but we also put ourselves in danger because of them.
Cell phones turn normally intelligent people into the morons who forget to look both ways when crossing the street and turn a good driver into a driver filling out an insurance claim.
We use the tool that promised to save us time just to kill time, and sometimes kill ourselves. We call for directions when we're driving in the dark while it's raining so we don't have to pull over and ask someone for help.
It's no surprise that people in a society who want their movies, music, news, weather, sports scores and television on-demand are finally becoming an item themselves on the menu. Cell phones are requiring humans to be on-demand too.
You're expected to drop everything and pick up your phone when it rings. It didn't used to be a problem when our phones were stuck in our houses. But now that they're in our pocket it's a whole new call for help.
Function is replacing the form of our culture. And we can no longer roam free when we have free roaming and free nights and weekends. Someday we'll realize our minutes really weren't unlimited.
And we'll wonder where life went when we were busy saving time. If dropped calls can ruin a conversation then dropping cell phones might save the art of communication.