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Life Without a Cell Phone, WHAT!!!!

Updated on October 12, 2017
Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

My passion is to inspire and coach people to achieve what they want to get out of life.

As we march into 2013, there is an interesting new development. Many are understanding what over-reliance on handheld digital devices and digital media is doing to us. It is not socially healthy. Digital devices have changed our ability to have fulfilling relationships, personally and socially. Our communication skills, the ones we use human to human, have deteriorated.

Remember long ago when "they," said TV would deteriorate our ability to communicate. Boy things have changed. TV is now where some families get together and relate. This heavy reliance on handheld devices and less on face to face relationships are depleting all our personal and social energy.

"Social networking websites" like, you know, and the innovation of the "Smartphone" has changed our view of connecting with another. They promised us a technological route to connect with others better and grow our relationships. When in fact we are only building a relationship with the internet and/or the device, not another human. Everyone else viewing you social "postings" are just that "observer to your new found relationship". Initially, these Social networking websites offered an ability to reconnect with friend and family who lived miles from us. We could not visit face to face because our economy went bottom up. Because who could afford to travel due to the prices?

I digress, Social networking and these devices have slowly "dehumanize" our relationships with each other. Attention!!!! Now some of us are starting to do something about it. The new movement is called "digital dieting". This where a person will totally go off of all digital devices and internet for 30 or more days. In the helping profession, they would call this "rehab". Something needs to be done. Awareness needs to be raised to make us human again (as I am typing this on my computer, LOL).

Has society's reliance on digital devices become a "digital addiction"? I think many would agree. Time to reflect back. Remember back to times when there was no computer, Smartphone, or digital tablet. Travel back with me to that time.

I know that I will be telling my age with this statement but I remember when the only phone available to me was one connected to my parent’s kitchen wall. At that time I would have to grab the phone connected to the wall, untangle the long phone cord and turn the rotary dial to make a phone call, no push buttons on that phone, no sir. When I wanted to talk to a friend my whole family would hear the entire conversation, so I really had to watch want I said. While I would talk I would wrap my finger around the curly phone cord. Oh, those were the days….

Phones of the Past

When I was away from the house and needed to talk to someone I had to go to the gas station or a drug store to find a pay phone. Used to, you would see a phone booth on the corner or in the local stores but they are no longer a fixture anymore.

In my late 20’s was when the first time that “mobile phones” came to be. My first mobile phone was the size of a brick (first phone in the picture to the right) and just about as heavy. How funny is that? No pocket was big enough so I had to carry it in my hand and it was heavy or briefcase. The great aspect of my first phone was that my arm muscles got stronger and continued to stay in shape from just lugging it around.

During those times, calling areas were very limited and the price was extremely high compared to nowadays.

Phone Improvements have Changed Our Lives

As the years went on and technology developed cell phones themselves became smaller and smaller. Calling areas grew but not a lot of people had them due to their expense. Back then cell phones were just a status symbol and generally to stay in contact with work, not as much for personal communication. There were no games, apps or any luxuries on those phones. All you could do with them was make phone calls and clarity, and the connection was good. Imagine that!

Boy, how the development of mobile phones from cell phone to smartphones have changed our lives. Today, everyone has a mobile or smartphone it seems. The number of people who have landlines in their homes has decreased significantly. Statistics tell us that over two-thirds of the population are connected through mobile phones. Total minutes of mobile phone use for Americans in 2009 were over 2.3 trillion. Mobile and smartphones are now in the hands of children as young as 13 years old and sometimes younger. The location of mobile and smartphones can be traced now and parents can monitor where their children are.

The location of mobile and smartphones can be traced now and parents can monitor, so now mobile and smartphones have become security locator devices as well as a babysitter and distractor. Times have changed quickly.

At what age is the right age for child to have a cell phone?

See results

Are Mobile and Smartphones Phone Necessity?

The personal information age has come. No longer are cell phones a luxury but now a necessity. Mobile and smartphones have become more than communication and calling devices since the introduction of the iPhone in June of 2007. Mobile and smartphones are now lightweight with cameras, music players, news collectors, texting machines, mini-personal computers, and gaming centers. Mobile and smartphones contain our pictures, record segments of our experiences and history as well as store all our personal information. Mobile and smartphones are a big part of our daily lives and have reconfigured society.

Are Smartphones good or bad? Let me explain with a little story. My wife and I were leaving a popular restaurant on prom night at the local high school. A lot of the kids came to the restaurant for their prom night dinner. As we stepped into the parking lot after dinner and there was a group of 10-12 teenagers all dressed up. The guys were looking great in their tuxedos and girls were beautiful in their prom dresses. You could tell that the girls had spent a better part of the day at salons having their hair and nails done for the occasion. The strange thing about this was that there were 10-12 human beings standing in a circle all with their head down, not speaking to or looking at one another. Instead, each one was looking at their own smartphones and their fingers were busy text messaging on their phones. Not one of these teens was speaking to the ones standing right next to them. No human interaction whatsoever with each other. The only interaction each were having was with their smartphone. It was extremely evident that each kid was texting someone else in the same group.

Let me try to answer the above question with a little story. My wife and I were leaving a popular restaurant on prom night at the local high school. A lot of the kids came to the restaurant for their prom night dinner. As we stepped into the parking lot after dinner and there was a group of 10-12 teenagers all dressed up. The guys were looking great in their tuxedos and girls were beautiful in their prom dresses. You could tell that the girls had spent a better part of the day at salons having their hair and nails done for the occasion. The strange thing about this was that there were 10-12 human beings standing in a circle all with their head down, not speaking to or looking at one another. Instead, each one was looking at their own smartphones and their fingers were busy text messaging on their phones. Not one of these teens was speaking to the ones standing right next to them. No human interaction whatsoever with each other. The only interaction each were having was with their smartphone. It was extremely evident that each kid was texting someone else in the same group.

The situation made my wife and I chuckle but also think. Are we creating a generation with no personal skills and void of human to human contact? All this thinking lead me to pose the question, are we a society which is more interested in being “technically connected” rather than "personally connected"? Are we a society who is hiding our emotions behind a text or emojis?

Recent Study at MIT

I recently learned of a research study on the influence of mobile devices and smartphones in our society conducted at MIT. The American public is becoming more and more disconnected to each other due to our reliance on cell phones. Just like the aforementioned story. 90% of all Americans own a cell phone. The average American sends and receives over 32,000 text messages a month. Last year alone a 1,000 people had to go to a hospital emergency because of an injury related to using their cell phones. In another study where people were asked to give up their cell phones for a month. Most participants said it was the hardest thing they had ever done. One participant said, which I think is typical, Sometimes I felt out of touch with my life, almost dead without my phone."

Mobile and smartphones are a great invention and wonderful technology, but sometimes we have to put them down and communicate verbally and emotionally with each other. Don't lose the connection with others.

Due to our fixation on cell phones, are we losing our person to person social skills?

See results

© 2011 Bill Tollefson

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    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 3 years ago from Southwest Florida

      mary615,

      I beleive your comment is true. Cell phones are taking out ability to communicate with each other away. An actual communication tool needs to be invented now, LOL.

      Or maybe we should go back to the old way of just talking to each other, eye to eye.

      Thanks again,

      Dr. BIll

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      It isn't only the kids who are loosing their social skills by using cell phones: adults are, too!!

      I'm old fashioned. I do have a cell phone, but it is a "dumb" phone. My kids gave me a smart phone last Christmas and kept it for only two weeks!

      Cell phones seems to be a necessary evil anymore.

      Voted UP and shared. Oops, our new share button is not working!

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 5 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Femmeflashpoint - Thank you for your insightful story of how things have change due to cell phones. I appreciate your time to read and make a comments. I truly wish we could go back to the dinner table and the cup of coffees.

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 5 years ago

      Dr. T,

      I'm playing catch up, and saw this as the most recent on your list. I was amused to realize that because I could identify with rotary phones (and even shared lines with neighbors), danggg! My age is showing too! :)

      The first mobiles, the ones that logged call costs at $500 a minute and were so big that Chevy Blazers had a platform in the floorboard as wide as my current laptop to set the phone on while travelling ... I had one. I loved it until I got my first bill.

      Couple of years ago, sitting at home surfing, with a couple of other roommates in the house, I realized three of us were home; one in the living room, one on the sun-porch, and on in their bedroom, and we were all chatting on messenger.

      We've gotten pathetic haven't we? :) I'm thinking we all might have been communicating the same way if we'd all been sitting in the same room together ...

      (Sigh)

      I do believe most of us are hopelessly addicted and developing an overboard dependency on techno-communication for the sort of good stuff that used to be voiced over cups of coffee at the big dining room table. :)

      femme

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 5 years ago from Southwest Florida

      kim039 - Thank you for the wonderful comments! My grandson is not old enough yet, but I would like to tell him about what I have experienced in my years and how technology changed. I think that is important for a grandfather to do.

      I did not remember the charger until you mentioned it. WOW, that brings back more memories.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      LOL. What a great idea for a hub! You sounded like a grandpa telling a grandchild about the old days! I didn't remember about the old heavy cellular phones until HBM described them. We used to have them in the office on the charger and were required to take them when we made a high risk field visit. My new cell phone doesn't keep a charge the way my old one did, so I don't use it as much as I used to. I used to like it for safety, but if I don't remember to put it on the charger, it won't be much use for safety - if the car breaks down or I get a flat or have an accident, etc.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      KoraleeP - I really appreciate your comments. Yes technology is advancing very fast. My 14 month old grandson is already interested in cellphones. I also wonder what he is in store for in the future.

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 6 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      Great Hub! I can remember the good old days talking on a dial phone, with a cord, and I have a 17 year old and can relate to the new age addition to the phone. I am concerned about what it will be like for my 4 month old grandson when he is 10. Technology keeps advancing, with no signs of slowing down. My daughter even texts me from within the house.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      fucsia - Thank you for your comment. I am glad the article helped you to reflect. Did we communicate more before cell phones? I do not know, but we did see each other more face to face. Emotion is lost over a cell phone and emotion is what makes us humans.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 6 years ago

      "are we a society which is more interested in being “connected” than connected?"

      A great question that often I wonder too, but I have not an answer. I can only say that there are positive side and negative side about cellular, like many things brought by progress.

      This is a thought-provoking Hub that makes me reflect....

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      denise.w.anderson - Thank you very much for sharing your story and your comments on how technology is affecting our children. Sometimes I think cell phones and computers will be the addiction of the next generation. How do we keep them safe?

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 6 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Wait for the right ring before you pick up that phone, my mother used to say! We had a party line with at least four neighbors on it. Those were the days! Now you can't even go in a public bathroom without hearing someone talking on a cell phone. Unfortunately, our technology habits of today will be a large part of society's ills tomorrow. The lack of communication and interpersonal skills are already affecting our school children in big ways.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Stigma31- I am so glad that you shared your story. Kids these days do not understand being social with the people they are with. Their friends around just become a sounding board for the texts they receive. Thanks for your comments.

    • wysley profile image

      wysley 6 years ago

      Stigma31 that is so ironic that you were in sales for cell phones and even got a free one for outstanding sales, and yet hated them. Very interesting take on the subject, thanks for the imput.

    • Stigma31 profile image

      Stigma31 6 years ago from Kingston, ON

      I have been a salesperson for electronics for several years. I remembering getting a cellphone for having the tops cellphone sales in my district. I hated it. It was big and I didn't have to worry about the cost per call. It was free for me. I hated the fact that anyone could call me at any time. Walking , driving, talking etc...

      The only good thing was the reception was amazing. I lived in a small city on the border of Canada and the U.S. and I could easily get coverage on both sides. Then the new ones came in and the reception was no comparison.

      My story is that last year we had a Christmas party at a local restauraant. All the young kids at together and none of them were talking to each other except to comment on what someone from school just texted them. All us older people were laughing and joking. The kids were confused about our revelry.

      Anyway, great hub, definitely voting up!

    • wysley profile image

      wysley 6 years ago

      It would be interesting to add to the poll question:

      "Due to our fixation on cell phones, are we losing our person to person social skills?"...

      If so are you willing to decrease your cell phone usage or even go without a cell phone for even a day? week? month?

      I venture to say many people may agree with the first part, but not to the latter part. Hence the further question arises: Are we each contributing to the decrease in social skills by our own actions related to cell phone usage?...

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      wysley - You put a label to what I was attempting to express in my story -'paradox of progress'. I thank you for that. I think as a society we need to get back to our "humanness" and have good social skills as well as keep the wonders of technology. Your comments were validating to what I wanted to get across.

    • wysley profile image

      wysley 6 years ago

      I can remember those very same events (also telling my age). I used to stretch the long cord to the top of the stairway in order to get some privacy. But we also had a wall phone in the basement and frequently someone would be listening in anyway. When I got the luxury of a bag phone (the brick you spoke of)in my mid twenties, it didn't do a lot of good because very few other people had one, and the cost per minute was extremely high. I got one due to frequently having to travel isolated country roads, but couldn't get much reception, so once again didn't do much good.

      I can totally relate to the lack of true connection due to what is technically called a 'paradox of progress' that is supposedly to help people be more connected, but in some ways doing the opposite in the process. I wonder if in future dictionaries "friends" and "connection" will be redefined to include "facebook" or "text messaging" interactions-devoid of the central component of "humanness"???

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Marie Brannon - Thank you for reading this HUB and your comments. I have had cell phones for such a long time due to business that I have a hard time remembering life without them. But I have to admit that there are negative aspects to owning cell phones. They just give us another reason to dissociate from interacting with life.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Denis Handlon - I support you on your comment about kids not knowing what real social life is and I think are lacking on communication skills. Technology is good but lacks emotion. I appreciate your input. Visit more often to other of my HUBs.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image
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      Bill Tollefson 6 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Happyboomernurse - I really enjoyed writing this HUB. It brought back more and more recollections of my youth. Being as old as I am I can remember a lot of changes that have happened, especially in technology. Thank you for sharing your story with my readers.

      I really cherish your support.

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      Marie Brannon 6 years ago

      Count me among those who remember when people were aware of their surroundings, connected to the real world instead of a cyber-world. I'm still a holdout on buying a cell phone, I can't imagine why I would need one. It would be just one more thing to keep up with.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      I'm with Gail-I had to chuckle about the lack of privacy with the kitchen phone. We finally convinced my parents to get a very long cord so we could step into the basement stairs. Of course...my brothers would stand at the door and listen anyway, LOL

      For me, I wouldn't let my children get phones until they were 17 and they had to buy their own. That was a long time ago.

      Between computers, cell phones and reality shows, I don't think kids growing up have a clue of what a real social life is.

      Great hub. Voted up.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      I'm showing my age too because I remember everything you wrote about in this hub, particularly the very expensive, large mobile phones. A doctor I worked for was the first person I knew who got one and I remember him calling his staff while he was driving from one office to another just to "see how this thing works." His voice was crackling but we heard him loud and clear.

      A few years later I became a homecare nurse and mobile phones were still so expensive that the company I worked for only purchased one that was to be used when we were assigned weekend duty. During weekdays, when 10 of us worked, we all had to check in to the office via pay phones whenever we were on the road.

      The most incredible story I have from the days before I owned a mobile phone illustrates the potentially life saving capacity of cell phones. About 25 years ago my husband's car broke down in 90 degree heat. He got out and tried to wave down help but no-one stopped. He then started walking along the highway to try to reach a pay phone but began having chest pains. Incredibly I was driving on that same highway in between seeing homecare patients and was startled to see him struggling to walk. I picked him up, learned he was having chest pains and drove him to the hospital which was 5 minutes away (by car). He never would have made it there by foot.

      Now I'm grateful that we both carry cell phones and can call for help whenever the need arises.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub. Your story about the teens on prom night, huddled outside sending text messages without any communication with the people who were beside them felt so sad and even chilling to me. Of all the nights in our youth when we should be completely focused in the moment and hopefully enchanted by the person who's beside us or enjoying the entire group we're with, it should be prom night.

      Voted up across the board. This was a delightful and thought-provoking read.