As I sit on the train on my way home from work all I can see is a sea of people standing or sitting with their heads down and their earphones plugged into a gadget none of us seem to be able to live without. Cellphones have taken over our nation and our subway systems and there seems to be no end to this 20th century phenomenon.
I remember getting my first cell phone at the age of 16. I begged my mom for one because it was the latest thing among my friends. She bought me the phone on the condition that I didn’t take it to school and I only used it for emergencies. This completely defeated the purpose of my pursuit to popularity but I agreed to the terms just to have that coveted Sony Erikson. Within a week the phone was stolen and then replaced by a Nokia which I loved just as much. Thus began my citizenship into Cellphone Nation.
In my 35 years I have had them all: flip phones, smart phones, stupid phones Blackberries, Moterollas, Samsungs and most recently an iPhone. I have been plugged in for 19 years and have experienced all the changes that cellphones have offered their users. With the rise of the internet and our ability to connect from our talk device there had been a significant shift on how we use our cellphones today. No longer does a phone do one thing, it had multiple tasks it can perform from cameras to miniature computers to listening devices phones have evolved into a tool that many people can’t live without.
But what about the damage its doing to society? We are all so plugged in that we forget to check in and connect with each other on a face-to-face level. With the rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter people have found a new and, in my opinion, less effective way to communicate. Also with the rise of Apps cellphone users have access to social media and other services right at their fingertips. Cellphones have taken over the way we do things, making them faster, more efficient but at what cost? Are we a part of a Cellphone Nation that is leaving interpersonal relationships behind? Why talk to a person when you can text them? Why share an experience with someone when you can post it? Why share your opinions via conversation when you can Tweet them out?
Gone are the days when cellphones use to do one thing—make calls. Now we are seeing a new era where cellphones have become our third hand. We defer to the information we receive on our cellphones, we tap into our desire for food or music through our phones, we rely on them to organize our lives and ultimately make things easier. But have we become obsessed? Are we obsessed with checking our messages, going on social media or playing mindless games on our devices? Have we forgotten a time where it was easy to detach from our phones leaving then behind in pursuit of something better? I am guilty as well. I carry my phone everywhere and I check it often but for several hours of the day I put my phone away. I try to forget about who could be trying to reach me. I try to forget about my email inbox and most recently I try to forget who is messaging me on my dating apps.
It’s important to disconnect from your devices especially your cellphones. If your job doesn’t
require reachability 24/7 there is no need to have your cellphone on all the time. I know what
I’m suggesting sounds crazy to you, I mean what if someone texts you or posts something and you miss it? That in itself, that fear of missing out (FOMO), is a problem that must be addressed. It’s okay not knowing sometimes, it keeps life interesting and the world won’t fall off its axis if you miss a message. So though we are all a part of Cellphone Nation it’s still important to remember you are a citizen of the world as well and perhaps your time could be better spent if you shut off your device and use your off time to experience the world around you.