Sunday, February 24, 2008

Call Me

I've been giving thought to the great and much sought after gadget called cell phones. It seems the best invention since TV. But since it's inclusion in the world of communication, the quality of life has plummeted.

Years ago when there was only land line usage, we were hostage to the confines of our homes for making and receiving calls. It meant going an entire day at work before finally arriving at home to learn of some important event missed while away. Or arriving at a shopping mall to pick-up your child only to learn, after hours of waiting, that your child has already left with a friend. It was very inconvenient, and cell phones became our salvation. Yet did they?

One Christmas I'd given my 14 year old a phone because it would help me monitor her after-school activities. She loved me for it. I was at her fingertips and she mine until the novelty wore off. It was no longer a pleasure and a comfort when I was capable of knowing her every move. So, on those occasions when she was late arriving home and I was interested enough to dial her number, her phone was inconveniently turned off. It was the beginning of a nightmare.

But there was a mutual freedom that she and I did enjoy. She no longer tied-up my land line for hours. Instead, she talked in her room as long as she desired ... after 7pm of course. With the land line I always knew if she was on the phone. Now I had to knock on her door to find out.
Sometimes it could be 1 or 3am.

On one occasion she was dating a special boy who phoned her day and night. My routine was to get both of my kids in bed by 11pm, and up the next day by 7. So as we said our good-nights, one evening, I assumed conditions were as they always had been. At 3am, needing water from the kitchen, I heard giggling and peeked into her room. She was wide awake and chatting up a storm.

There's nothing new about the abuse of cell phone usage. Situations like this go on in most households across the country. I also observe it while shopping, on college campuses, and in cars. Young people in particular have found this to be an alternative to the usual human social interactions that were once the basis for human connection. Gone are the days of the casual smile or greeting along a sidewalk or in the doctor's office. Some are too busy on phones to recognize on opportunity to talk to the person next to him. Although certainly not the case for everyone, cell phones have become the catalyst for the breakdown of human exchange; eye to eye, face to face. As necessary a tool it may be for society, does it out-weigh the advantages of interpersonal relationships had on our streets, highways and byways?

I add this to the growing trend for video games. In a 24 hour day, where is there time for thought, of serious contemplation, of sports activities or study? After learning the statistics from schools all across the country, we seem to have created a generation of (1) gamers and internet surfers who spend the rest of their leisure on cell phones.

I can't help think this is part of some grand plan. It's obvious that in the near future there will be fewer well-rounded personalities capable of driving a country or running a business. We'll be too submerged in the entertainment of cell phones and other time consuming gadgets to make the big decisions. Who's plan was this?


Magdalen Islands said...

You really get to the heart of the matter, don't you? Your topics are interesting and of concern to all of us. I think you should be writing a column for a newspaper.

keith hillman said...

These pesky litte devises are a modern day curse.I hate them but have to have one. You may be interested in a little piece I wrote about them last week