- Politics and Social Issues
Cellphones Are Going To Kill Us All
mobile killed the radio star
I held out for a very long time. I am 51 years old and I did not get my first cell phone until 2012. And, given a choice, I would throw the goddamn thing into the river. But it is how it is, and to hold a job now, you have to have one.
My initial resistance was one of practicality and pure annoyance, in that the mere ownership of a cell phone ties you to a stake that you cannot get away from. The words "why didn't you answer?" and "why didn't you respond?" and "I've been trying to call you!" are phrases that I have spent my entire life trying to avoid, and with advent of cell phones, they got right in my face and I opted not to get involved. I cringe when I think about how teenagers have to deal with their parents now.
This is by far the biggest loss of freedom in America. Be it your parents or your significant other or your boss, the cell phone has tethered us to responsibility in a way that is unprecedented in human history and has changed the way we all interact forever.
And I think that is a bad thing. Teenagers today have no idea how easy it was to get away with stuff 30 years ago. They pester mom and dad to get them a phone because everyone else has one, but they don't realize that what they are asking for will kill their independence forever. Gone are the days when mom merely said "just be home for dinner". Now they can snag you on a moments notice, and bust you if you don't respond. You are on-call, 24/7.. Listen to this kids; when I got out of school at 2:30, my parents had no idea (nor did they really care) what I was doing until I showed up for dinner at 7. They had no way to find me, let alone contact me. And it worked out fine.
That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the societal consequences. Try being a schoolteacher now, with a roomful of kids itching and scratching to get at their phones every second and totally ignoring everything you have to say. Most of them are just waiting to run into the hall to look at their texts.
Unfortunately, the same is true in the workplace. Of course, in many businesses, cell phones are a crucial aspect of your work now. I get that. But in the service industry, where I come from, it has no place. In a restaurant or a grocery store, employees looking at cell phones are destroying the core of customer service. I would have two rules if I managed a restaurant: "If I see your phone once, you get written up. If I see your phone again, your fired. The house has a phone, and any emergency will be dealt with, in the mean time, you leave your phone in your car.
Now let's get to the truly dangerous part of cellphones; distraction. Every year thousands of people are killed or injured in car accidents due to cell phone use behind the wheel, and, of course we've all seen the funny videos of people walking into walls or falling into fountains while walking down the street texting, but it isn't as amusing when your 13 year old niece walks in front of a bus. Cell phones do kill, and when I almost get hit by some nimrod talking on his phone and then he flips me off for honking at him, well, F*** YOU, you know who you are.
Finally, we come to the human and psychological impact of this issue, which I think is the most profound of all. All you have to do is look around and you see it everywhere. Two people sitting at a table in a restaurant, not talking but looking at their phones. Families in the park for a nice day out, with the tweens oblivious to the natural surroundings and lost in their iPhones. Throw down, knock out fights about the content of this tweet or that post or whatever... this is no way for us to live folks! I was in a doctors office last week, and I was the only person out of seven reading a magazine. You know what everybody else was doing. My wife of 22 years, who has berated me countless times for "not listening" to her, now spends a great deal of our time together ignoring me and my comments in favor of the 3x5 screen in her hand.
Stephen Hawking has said that our own technology we kill us in the end. I would have to agree, and cell phones are a very good start.
(P.S.- the photo is not your brain on a cellphone, it is the Eiffel Tower from directly below.)